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Michael Stoline

September 18, 2022
Kalamazoo, MI




STOLINE, MICHAEL R. Michael Ross Stoline (Mike) was born in Jefferson, Iowa on Sept. 17, 1940. He lived on a 160-acre farm outside of Jefferson with his parents, Paul and Eva, and his younger brother Roger. Mike enjoyed working on the farm, vividly recalling electrification of the farm in 1947 and the shift to tractors which provided a well-deserved retirement for their horses Nellie and Trixie. During his high school freshman algebra class Mike discovered both passion and talent for mathematics. This awakening eventually led to his 44-year long professional career of teaching statistics. Other high school interests included clarinet and 4-H, and a special friend named Marie Thompson. They were an item off and on since their 1st date as 15-year-olds on 5-5-55a magical day for both. They co-edited the school newspaper in senior year. Mike also found his sport as a senior when he went out for the track and field team. He became the 1958 Class C state indoor long jump champion in addition to several state-level sprinting finishes-- 2nd in the indoor 50-yd dash, 2nd in the outdoor 220-yd dash and 3rd in the outdoor 100-yd dash.

Mike lived on the family farm until his graduation from Grand Junction High School in 1958. With his love of farming yet awareness of the social upheaval of the times, he was torn between carrying on the family farm vs. going to college, wanting to make a difference in the world by working at the United Nations or maybe in political life. He also loved music and considered becoming a music major. That fall he entered Iowa State University in Ames as a political science major, joining the exodus of young people from Iowa farms. However, Marie chose the University of Iowa (U of I) in Iowa City. Soon realizing that they wanted to be together, Mike transferred to U of I in his sophomore year. He played in the Hawkeye marching band that year. Mike and Marie were married on Oct. 8, 1960 at the start of their junior years. They soon discovered that they were going to be parents. Mike realized that he needed to decide how he was going to support a growing family. He fell back on a known strength and love, changing from a public service path to become a math major. Their first child, Anne Marie, arrived in 1961.

Mike graduated from U of I in 1967 with a PhD in statistics. By that time the family had grown with the addition of Amy Michelle in 1962, Benjamin Michael in 1964 and Carrie Elizabeth in 1966. After graduation Mike aspired to teach university-level statistics. He accepted his first job offer for a position teaching statistics at Western Michigan University (WMU). In August 1967, he moved the family from their humble, married student housing home in a former army barracks in Iowa City, to a wonderful home on Glenwood Drive in Kalamazoo. Mike and Marie immediately fell in love with Kalamazoo and decided to put roots down there. Mike became a full professor at WMU in the early 1970s. (Whether fact or lore remains in question, but Marie proudly reported that Mike was the youngest person to attain full professorship in WMU history.) In 1975, Mike accepted an invitation to do research at the University of California at Berkeley. He brought the family along for a wonderful 6-month sabbatical in California. The family still laughs over some of the experiences they shared while exploring the beautiful landmarks and natural settings there. He was proud that their adventure helped to ignite his kids' love for travel and exploration. Another project begun that year stemmed from a conversation with biostatisticians at the Upjohn Company, headquartered in Kalamazoo, about what they would like included in a graduate-level biostatistics program. With help from many of their 70 biostatisticians, Mike developed a new graduate program in biostatistics at WMU which was approved in 1976. Mike took great pride in teaching biostatistics to his graduate students, knowing they would most likely be highly employable in the pharmaceutical industry working on medication development. Mike published statistical research in the area of multiple comparisons. This research proved useful in questions of social justice, e.g., he assessed the racial composition of circuit court jury trials in the state for the Michigan Court of Appeals. In repeated investigations over some years he found that in many cases Black defendants faced nearly all-White juries. His reputation led to an invitation to join an analysis of the 1978 Love Canal environmental disaster in Niagara Falls, NY. He was appointed to a national board of scientific experts charged with determining habitability criteria, i.e., whether families could live safely near the contaminated dumpsite. He was active on this and other Love Canal committees between 1984 and 1989. He developed a public talk, "Love Canal, an American Environmental Case Study," which he gave to many civic and scientific audiences both at home and abroad. Presenting his talk to the Soviet Academy of Sciences in Moscow in 1990 was one of the highlights of his career. Subsequent local environmental work included analysis of toxic contamination at the closed KL Landfill in Oshtemo Township, analyses used in several local court cases. These real-world experiences strengthened his teaching about analyzing environmental contamination to WMU graduate students.

Mike always had a passion for teaching and believed entering a classroom was like jumping on stage. When he started teaching in the 1970s, faculty dressed up for the classroom and Mike never abandoned this tradition although many fellow faculty members began dressing more casually in the late 1970s. At his retirement in 2011 Mike was warmly roasted by his students for being one of the last professors to wear a tie and sport coat to teach; he reciprocated that night by gifting dozens of those short and wide ties to his students.In addition to his prolific academic work, Mike found time for many other interests. He was a life-long Democrat, participating in many election campaigns over the years. He also served a two-year term in 1971-1972 on the Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners. Music continued to be a big part of his life, teaching himself to play folk guitar in the late 1960s then playing guitar with Just Friends, performing folk music at local events. Later, he taught himself to play upright bass by playing along with recorded music. He first performed on bass in the Sampler Band with musical friends, later forming the Heartland Band which performed bluegrass and popular music at local events from 1994 to 2007.

Finally, he was a member until his death of the Hoot Owls, playing at social gatherings, summer farmers' markets and nursing homes. By 1984 Mike and Marie's four children had all graduated from Loy Norrix High School. Once empty-nesters, Marie and Mike moved in 1987 to a 30-acre horse farm in Texas Township they named Heartland. Some of their greatest pleasures at Heartland included horseback rides in the woods, and entertaining family and friends. After adding five llamas to their livestock, they enjoyed hosting educational tours and Heartland became known as a llama farm. Mike really enjoyed returning to his farm boy roots by putting on his old clothes to hay the horses, clear brush, open new riding trails and build pasture fences. Mike and Marie enjoyed travel, especially to Europe. On one frightening trip in April 1986 their Kalamazoo tour group arrived in Kiev, Ukraine three days after the nearby Chernobyl nuclear explosion. The group left Russia safely after their visit, but Mike and Marie discovered on arrival at home that they both had mild radiation exposure and had to discard much of their travel baggage because of it. After this memorable experience, Mike and Marie were deeply concerned about living conditions in Russia and the welfare of the Russian people. In 1991, they helped form the Kalamazoo-Pushkin Partnership to build personal and cultural relationships with Russians and to provide them humanitarian aid. Several large shipments of medicine, food and clothing were shepherded by the Kalamazoo group to their new friends in Pushkin. Ignoring the Cold War between their countries, lasting relationships even a marriage developed between Pushkin and Kalamazoo citizens through the Partnership. In 1996, Mike and Marie hosted the first Russian Festival at Heartland. After the last annual festival in 2017, Mike remained active for years in the local KCRA (Kalamazoo Russian Cultural Association). Hoping to instill in their grandchildren a love of travel that they would one day pass along to their own grandchildren, Mike and Marie were able to take five of their teenage grandchildren on individual trips to Europe. Marie lived at Heartland for 25 years, until her death in 2012. Mike took two more grandchildren on European trips in 2013 and 2018. Mike left Heartland in November 2014, moving to a home in Oshtemo Township with Janice Lakers, whom he described as "a wonderful lady," and Janice's dear companions, cats Vincent and Lucy. Janice and Mike enjoyed extensive US and international travel. In late 2018, they moved into a condominium on Autumn Crest Lane in Kalamazoo. They were married on Aug 1, 2020 in the midst of the 2020 Pandemic. Janice and Mike enjoyed hosting international visitors through the Colleagues International Program, playing music with friends and at local events, and were active in book and film discussion groups.

Mike is survived by his wife Janice, four children, eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild: Anne Stoline-Litwin MD (Steven, DDS) in Perryville MD whose children are Elliott (Colorado Springs) and Madeline; Amy Harrington (Timothy) of Kalamazoo; Benjamin (Tracy) in Hastings MI whose children are Shanna Kenny (Birr, Ireland), Monica Messick (Jacob) in Richmond, VA, Kristina in Arlington, VA and Jennifer at home; and Carrie Olson (Stanley) in Waldorf, MD with children Stanley and Sydney. He was happy to live to see the birth of his great-granddaughter Sienna Grace to Shanna on September 5, 2022. In addition to his wife and children, Mike is survived by his brother Roger (Sharon). A memorial service to celebrate Mike's life will be held on Sunday, October 23, 2022. Please text 269-254-6741 for more information and to RSVP. Friends and family may share a condolence message online at