Michael Leslie FunNell

Published 3:31 pm Monday, November 8, 2021

Nov. 2, 1942 — Nov. 6, 2021

Michael Leslie FunNell, Built the American Dream, Joined Our Lord at 79.

Woodrow and Mildred FunNell welcomed their son Michael on Nov. 2, 1942, at Lee Memorial Hospital in Dowagiac, Michigan. Not long after, they moved their children to Howard Township where they worked their small sustainable farm and lived off the land. Young Michael walked to Coulter school through fourth grade, attended Howard Ellis Elementary through eighth grade, and graduated from Niles Senior High School in 1961.

Growing up in rural Cass County, Mikey was very involved in farming and his local 4-H club. He traversed the local creek beds and woods, and helped on the Burns’ family farms. In high school, he was a member of the Future Farmers of America where his mentor suggested he apply for a scholarship to the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan. Following high school, he became a Spartan where he was a member of the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps, and enjoyed many activities along the Red Cedar.

On a weekend visit home, he attended a square dance in Newton Woods where he met his wife Linda K. Johnson of 53 years. During his final year at MSU, he and his brother enlisted in the Army during the Vietnam conflict. On a weekend leave, Mike traveled home again and married Linda on Dec. 18, 1966, at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Niles where they were life-long members and served the congregation immeasurably. Following their union, they traveled back to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, and he served the remainder of his service at Vint Hill Farms Station near Warrenton, Virginia.

After returning home for the last time from Virginia, Mike and Linda purchased his late (Levi and Olive FunNell) Grandparents’ farm in Niles, and they began rebuilding their own sustainable 10-acre hobby farm. It was there that they raised a son and two daughters, innumerable market hogs, sheep, cows and their calves, dairy goats, flocks and flocks of poultry of all varieties, always a cat and dog or two, a very large vegetable garden each summer, and Mom’s horses.

Over the years, Mike was employed by the Kawneer Door Company, National Standard, and retired from the Niles Community School Corporation. Most evenings and weekends he could be found at a local high school athletic event, a livestock or farm auction, watching the Spartans, or another college football game, with one eye open, tinkering on his farm, or serving at church. He leisured in raising hogs and poultry, rotating eggs in his many incubators, moving chicks from the hatchery to their flock, and selling eggs. He was a master of all trades, could build anything from scraps, never shied from work, and was wise beyond his years. For years and years, every Sunday after church and “dinner,” the girls would go for a trail ride so that he could take a long overdue nap during a pro-football game, or work on the latest farm project.

Mike’s retirement abruptly changed when he suffered a series of strokes nearly two years ago. Not long after, Linda was diagnosed with cancer and passed several months later. Despite paralysis and losing his ability to speak with his family, it brought them together much more closely and they found new ways to continue Dad’s antics and banter.

He passed peacefully in his sleep at home on Nov. 6, 2021. His life continues to be admired and celebrated by his three children: Timothy (Pam) and their children Brandi (Tyler Richardson and their daughter Everli) and Tyler Leighton, all of Elkhart; daughter Deniece, of Niles; and daughter, Jessica (Tim Todd), of Saline and their children Andrew and Alexandra. Also surviving are his sister, Florine, of Niles, brother, Wesley (Marilyn), of Shelbyville, and numerous nieces and nephews.

In light of the on-going COVID-19 Pandemic, his family will welcome family and friends for a brief visitation on Friday, Nov. 12, 2021, from 10 a.m. to noon at St. Paul Lutheran Church, located at 1340 Sycamore St., Niles, Michigan 49120. A viewing for family will begin at 9:30 a.m. A short service will follow the visitation (Noon) officiated by Revered Don Neuendorf, of St. Paul Ann Arbor. Internment will take place for both Linda and Michael at Silverbrook Cemetery in Niles.

In lieu of flowers, friends may send gifts to these charitable organizations: Michigan 4-H Foundation, your local chapter of the Future Farmers of America, or Caring Circle Hospice of Lakeland Hospital.

Memories of Mike may be shared with his family at BrownFuneralHomeNiles.com.

Arrangements have been entrusted to Brown Funeral Home & Cremation Services, Niles.

Mike’s family would like to extend their sincerest appreciation to their friends and family, colleagues and co-workers, the many families of St. Paul, Caring Circle Hospice, and Brown Funeral Home for all of their prayers, physical, and emotional support over the last year.