On Dec. 18, 2012, Mike C. Burckhard of Reno, Nev., formerly of Velva, became the final member of his immediate family to enter into eternal life.
Mike’s journey began on Oct. 7, 1923, in Norwich, with his birth to German-Russian immigrant parents Clementina (Boechler) Burckhard and Wendelin Burckhard.
Mike’s early years were those of a northern Midwestern farm boy during the time of the Great Depression and the Midwestern Dust Bowl of the 1930s. He lived the ups and downs of life on the family farm and learned a work ethic born of the need to keep a pre-mechanized farm operating. Mike knew what it was to live without running water, to have to use an “outhouse,” and to have a Christmas tree lighted with candles.
As a schoolboy riding the horse-drawn buggy several miles to school during the winter months, he learned what it meant to be cold and he saw his family become the proud owners of an automobile. Through those years, Mike developed a strong appreciation for his large and extended family, including many relatives both near and far.
He discovered his affinity for music and became skilled at playing both the accordion and the electric organ. Mike’s memories were shared with those close to him and he often looked back upon those early times fondly, even while recalling how difficult things sometimes were.
After leaving the farm as a young man, Mike put his mechanical skills to work as an auto mechanic and auto-body repair man in nearby Velva. Those experiences proved beneficial when he decided to embark on a project that would become one of his prouder accomplishments an enclosed tri-ski snowmobile made of surplus military aircraft parts, powered by an aircraft engine and propeller, and known as a “snow plane.” Its submission to Popular Mechanics Magazine earned Mike a “Golden Hammer” award. Later pursuits lead him into the trucking and construction industries.
Following the war years, Mike joined several of his nine brothers and sisters in the pursuit of a new life, out West, in the milder climate of the San Francisco Bay area. While a West Coast resident, Mike kept family relationships close and he made numerous returns to North Dakota (as well as trips to other parts of the country), where he put his skills to use orchestrating numerous construction projects for family and friends.
In the mid 1970s the quest for work led Mike to, again, join a brother in a move, this time to Reno, Nev. Mike worked in the construction industry and ultimately retired as the maintenance manager of Smithridge Park Townhomes in Reno. While putting his carpentry skills to use in the local construction trade, Mike set the stage for the remainder of his life. He purchased a plot of land in the quiet outskirts of town and built a beautiful home, where he hosted family and friends and in which he lived, proudly and happily, until his final day.
Throughout his life, Mike was sustained by a strong self-reliance, strong work ethic and his ability to successfully tackle nearly any mechanical project or problem. Mike’s kindness and willingness to help are his legacy and those who love him will dearly miss his presence.
Mike was preceded in passing by his father, Wendelin; mother, Clementine; brothers, Matt, Larry, Phil, and Albert; and sisters, Regina, Dorothy, Teresa, Betty, and Veronica.
He is survived by: longtime friend, Asalene Campagna, of Reno; and many loving nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
Funeral: Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013, at 10:30 a.m. at St. Cecilia Catholic Church, Velva.
Visitation: There will be no reviewal; friends may sign the book Thursday, one hour prior to the service, in the church.
Burial: In the spring of 2013 at Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery, Velva.
Those wishing to sign the online guest register or share memories of Mike may access the online obituaries at (www.thompsonlarson.com).
(Thompson-Larson Funeral Home, Velva)