June 1, 1939 - Septermber 28, 2020
Richard “Dick” Mikkelsen died on Sept. 28, 2020, following a brief battle with ALS. He was born on June 1, 1939, in Kenosha, Wis. His work ethic was established at an early age since his family lived above the small neighborhood tavern they owned. He had two responsibilities: sort the empty bottles for pick up and peel potatoes for Friday night fish fry. His growing up wasn’t all work. It included swimming at the abandoned quarry, a perfect spot for young carefree boys: no lifeguards, no beaches, just jagged rock walls to climb and deep water for diving.
Swimming was his sport all the way through college. He attended Lutheran grade and high school and graduated from Valparaiso with a mechanical engineering degree. Later he added a master’s degree in radiological health from Rensselaer Poly Tech and a master’s in engineering management from University of Alaska Anchorage. Following college he joined the U.S. Public Health Service which led to two major life events. First was a winter “on the ice” in Antarctica. The second was an assignment to Alaska, where he fell in love with all things Alaskan, learned to fly, bought a plane and resigned the PHS so he could stay in Alaska.
On a trip back to Wisconsin he met a young widow with two small children.
They married, had a child of their own and their family was complete.
Dick’s first Alaskan job was with the Greater Anchorage Borough, setting up an air pollution program for the tri-borough area.
When the pipeline permit came through, he was hired for the exciting days of construction and the calmer days of production, retiring in 1994. Dick loved his family and especially enjoyed camping trips where he took great pride in starting “one match” fires. He loved his Lord, and he loved to learn. He served in many capacities at Anchorage Lutheran Church. He was a Master Gardner and along with a friend helped to establish Amen Acres, a community garden at the church. He served on the Board of Directors of the Northwest District, Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and on the board of Alaska Mission for Christ, an organization brings the Christian message to children in the villages via summer Vacation Bible Schools and basketball camps.
During their 51 years of marriage he and his wife Susie were active in Lutheran Marriage Encounter, Mobile Food Pantry and Ushering in the Arts.
In retirement they spent two years in an RV visiting many of the National Parks in the Lower 48. He enjoyed brewing beer and making wine for friends and family.
Dick was a man you could count on, a man who appreciated his blessings of faith, friends and family. He was a good man.
Service are scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020, at 2 p.m., Anchorage Lutheran Church, 15th and N Street.
He is survived by his wife, Susie; children, Shelly Miller, Chris Mikkelsen and Kathryn Hammon (Patrick); six grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.
Honorariums may go to the Alaska Mission for Christ or the ALS Foundation.
Published in Anchorage Daily News on October 7, 2020