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Life Story / Obituary
Knowing Michael Loflin was knowing his sense of humor, quick wit, and ability to make you smile regardless of the occasion. A friend of many and a stranger to none, offering an encouraging word to someone and boosting their spirits brought so much joy to Mike. He loved fully and completely at every opportunity, and in his family he found enormous comfort and happiness. It was a blessing to know and love Mike, and although he is no longer here to enjoy a good laugh or to share a smile, his memory lives on within us all.
Michael Gene Loflin was born on June 29, 1963 in Indianapolis, Indiana as the first son and second child of Ronald and Loretta Loflin. A typical boy of his generation, Mike grew up in New Palestine, Indiana where the Loflins made their home. Five years and two weeks apart in age, he followed in the footsteps of his older sister, Terry, with whom he was always close. The two of them were quite the pair!
During his youth, Mike enjoyed playing several team sports including baseball, basketball, and wrestling. A likable and sociable fellow right from the start, Mike shared the friendships of many. He attended the local schools and always made time for a little bit of adventure and mischief. Mike’s social life was a priority during his high school years when he partied with the best of them! He graduated from New Palestine High School in the Class of 1982.
After high school, Mike worked for a short while before enlisting in the U.S. Army in 1982. He remained stateside at Ft. Riley, Kansas where he served in the 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry (“Big Red One”) as a member of the Mechanized Infantry Squad. Mike was immensely proud of his years in the service and viewed his time in the Army as an invaluable experience. When he received his honorable discharge in November of 1988, Mike returned to Indiana. Mike’s father Ron was able to help him obtain a position with AT&T as a telephone operator. A dedicated and enthusiastic worker, Mike excelled at his job and was able to help so many people. He loved working in customer service and received numerous awards and accolades for going above and beyond his day-to-day tasks.
Around that same time, Mike met and married Novia Abbott. Mike was forever grateful for the two sons they shared during their 10 year marriage, Christopher and Timothy. He was always so incredibly proud of his boys. Chris and Tim will always remember watching the Price Is Right or Tom & Jerry and eating fried pork chops for breakfast with their dad! Using his knowledge of mechanics and driving from his Army days, Mike eventually switched jobs and began working for AAA. In this role he was a tow truck driver for their roadside service. He loved the independence and, once again, being able to assist people in times of need.
In a chance encounter in 2001, Mike met Sally Sterling - his soulmate and forever best friend. Mike’s roommate arranged a blind date with a friend of Sally’s. The four of them went out, and when Mike first took Sally’s hand in his he said, “Wow, you have pretty hands!” The connection was instant. Since Sally lived in Portage, Michigan, the early days of their relationship began as phone friends. Distance was never an obstacle for Mike and Sally’s love, though. They began dating, and later rang in the New Year of 2003 as a newly engaged couple.
Mike joined Sally in Portage. She had two cats and a dog, and although he already loved dogs, Mike surprisingly ended up liking cats – a lot! Along with his own two sons, Mike eased into a father-like role with Sally’s two children, Sean and Sarah. He always loved and protected them just as he did with his own kids. While living in Portage, Mike worked as a long haul truck driver for Werner Enterprises. Driving truck was the ultimate career for Mike, as he relished the freedom of the open road. Sally and the kids always knew he had returned from a trip when they heard his loud, big, blue truck coming down their otherwise quiet neighborhood street. He was known as the “Michigan Redneck” per his CB handle! Mike continued driving for Werner until he took ill in 2008.
One of the happiest days of Mike’s life was July 1, 2005 when he took Sally as his loving wife in a simple ceremony held at the Justice of the Peace. Mike and Sally shared a unique and special bond. They often completed each other’s thoughts and sentences. Partners in everything, they had the type of bond that many only dream of. Mike and Sally were always on the same team but still occasionally fostered a healthy rivalry between the two of them. Equally playful in spirit, they loved competing in trivia-type games, like being the first to guess “who-sings-it” on the radio during their many trips to the Mayo Clinic. The two of them always did fun things together, like the time Sally gave Mike a ticket package to a NASCAR race at Michigan International Speedway. Mike loved NASCAR but Sally did not, until he showed her how incredibly fun and exciting it is to watch. Now she is hooked! Mike was an avid fan of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, and Carl Edwards, and he would compete with Sally on whose favorite driver would do better that season. On another occasion the couple enjoyed a trip to Mackinac Island, which was a first for Mike. He talked about everything they did that weekend for many years afterwards. They also vacationed in Florida with Mike’s son Tim, and many fun memories were made – especially on the 18 hour drive!
There were many things Mike enjoyed. In his free time, he liked watching COPS and Food Network on TV. He had fun working with tools and tinkering around the house. When it came to music, Mike liked heavy metal, rock, and - most of all - country! Mike was a kid at heart and loved cartoons, especially Looney Toons. For many years he listened to Bob and Tom on the radio nearly every day.
Mike was always into playing board games with family, which is something he inherited at a young age from his older sister. The Vietnam War was also an interest of Mike’s, and he read and watched lot about the history of that era. Mike liked war movies and shows in general, his favorite being Band of Brothers. He was a patriot through-and-through and even had the U.S. flag tattooed on his arm.
Cooking was a big hobby of Mike’s. He was quite the grill master! Mike found inspiration from the shows he’d watch on TV and liked trying out new recipes. Two of Mike and Sally’s favorite places to eat were Cracker Barrel and Steak ‘n Shake. He was a big fan of Mountain Dew and would partake in the occasional Miller Lite or two. Mike knew how important it was to teach the kids how to care for their cars. All his experience in driving and mechanics made him really knowledgeable about cars and an excellent teacher.
Described as the best dad in the world, Mike was always there for his children. He was their father first, and friend always. When needed, Mike would point a firm index finger at the target of his reprimand, which is all it took to get whichever child to behave! Mike didn’t do roller coasters but still always enjoyed taking the kids to Kings Island or Cedar Point. He never distinguished the fact that Sally had her children and he had his because, to Mike, they were all theirs.
The year 2008 was a rough year for both Mike and Sally. She was diagnosed with cancer and Mike was right by her side as a wonderful caregiver. Then, on Thanksgiving Day, Mike fell ill and was taken by Sally to the emergency room for the first of many hospital stays. They received news he had congestive heart failure. Later he was diagnosed with a rare protein disease called Amyloidosis, which was attacking his heart. Mike and Sally made many trips to Mayo over the next several years, including an extended stay in 2014 during which Mike received a stem cell transplant. Times were tough, but Mike was tougher with Sally by his side. Together the pair of them were always courageous under any circumstances they faced.
It was a joy to share Mike’s company. He had the greatest sense of humor, and he even gave Sally a few lessons in sarcasm. However, as he stated recently, the “student” had outdone the teacher in this regard! Humor helped tremendously during Mike’s illness. He was a real smartass and always looked for the underlying joke to cut the bite of the moment. Mike’s sense of humor was contagious. If he could brighten the day of someone, life got a little better for Mike. He made it a point to make people feel better about themselves and uplifted them in a sincere and genuine manner. Everyone who encountered Mike - from bank tellers to waitresses, to the doctors and nurses who treated him - was taken by his overwhelming kindness and positivity.
Mike made a point of knowing everyone’s names who treated and cared for him, and he was always gracious and appreciative. It takes a special person to think of others at a time like that, but that was Mike. It was in his nature to put others before himself. In all ways, Mike was a loving example of a kind and generous husband, a caring father, and a compassionate friend. Although he will be deeply missed, the heart of Mike lives on forever in the hearts of those whose lives he touched.
Michael G. Loflin, age 53, of Portage, died Wednesday, June 28, 2017 at his home. He was preceded in death by his sister, Terry Loflin in 2007 and by a brother-in-law, Stephen Semple. Members of his family include his wife of 12 years, Sally Sterling; two sons: Christopher Loflin and Timothy (Sarah) Loflin; two stepchildren: Sean Sterling and Sarah (Joseph) Gallo; grandson, Cylus Loflin; parents: Ronald and Sherry Lofin and Loretta Loflin; stepsister; Becky (Patrick) Fellows and their children: Katie and Seth; and three sisters-in-law and their families. Cremation will take place. Visit with family and friends on Monday, July 10th from 5-8pm at the Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Dr. Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900. Private burial will take place at Ft. Custer National Cemetery. Please visit Michael’s personal web page at www.BetzlerFuneralHome.com where you can share a favorite memory or photo and sign his online guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan, West Michigan Cancer Center, or Mayo Clinic.