Michael Mathis


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Sep 22, 2023

Michael Mathis

MADISON - Michael J. “Mike” Mathis, age 76, passed away peacefully in his home

MADISON - Michael J. "Mike" Mathis, age 76, passed away peacefully in his home on March 30, 2023. He was born on January 28, 1947, in Sacramento, Calif, to Paul E. and Ruth Ann (Gamrath) Mathis.

Mike attended kindergarten through third grade at Emerson Elementary School, where he would tell you he was the top of his class. He then attended fourth through ninth grades at Schenk School. When Mike was a sophomore at East High School, he earned a letter in cross country. He then attended the newly opened LaFollette High School and was a member of the first graduating class of 1965. At LaFollette, Mike lettered in baseball and was the sports page editor for the school newspaper.

Mike earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from UW Madison in 1969. After a year in UW Madison Law School, Mike was drafted by the United States Army. He had basic training at Fort Campbell, Ky., and advanced individual training at Fort Knox, Ky. Mike then attended the Army Leadership Preparation Course and was awarded the honor graduate of his class. His permanent duty station was the Pentagon, working for the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs.

After completing military service, Mike continued his education at UW Madison Law School and received his degree in 1976. He then started his career and became an associate with the Madison law firm, Preloznik and Associates, SC.

In 1980, Mike began with the State of Wisconsin in the Wisconsin Unemployment Insurance Program. That program was part of the Department of Industry, Labor, and Human Relations, which later was renamed Department of Workforce Development. Mike worked there for 30+ years. He represented the state in unemployment tax cases from the administrative hearing level, and every state and federal level, including the U.S. Supreme Court, which he won. Mike retired in 2013.

After a 10-year relationship, Mike married his soulmate Patricia (VanderZanden) on June 17, 2000. They enjoyed bowling, golfing, traveling, spending time with family and friends, and contributing to various charitable organizations. After retirement, Mike became an avid golfer, golfing several times a week, as well as going on golf trips around the country... highlighted by Mike's favorite, Myrtle Beach. He also enjoyed seeing his classmates at the Lancer Lunch Bunch.

Mike is survived by his loving wife, Pat; stepdaughters, Melissa (Chad) Strait and Jodi (Craig) White; grandchildren, Zach, Caden, Katlyn, Brenden and Kendryn; brother, Gary (Janice) Mathis; sister-in-law, Leslie Mathis; niece, Danielle Mathis; and nephew, Matthew Mathis. As well as, sisters-in-law, Judy Ziegler, Kay (Randy) Ponschock and Nora (Ken) Hermus; and many nieces and nephews. His impact was not however, limited to family. Mike influenced the lives of so many with his sense of humor, charismatic charm, and pure kindness. The marks left will forever be a reminder of his contribution to our world. The love he devoted into his family and friends will never be forgotten.

A Special thanks to "work wife" Lora Waddell, Agrace hospice care, especially Melissa and Megan, and the many other nurses and staff that contributed to his care.

Mike was notorious for his famous one liners that often lit up the room. As part of an ongoing joke Mike's stepdaughters Melissa and Jodi always reminded him that in dealing with their mother, "he had a choice." Mike took it upon himself to make that choice every day in being a loving father, grandfather, brother, uncle, and husband.

Mike was preceded in death by his parents; brother, Steven; in-laws, Charles and Elaine VanderZanden; and brother-in-law, Jedd.

Per Mike's request there will be a Celebration of Life at DOOR CREEK GOLF COURSE, 4321 Vilas Road, Cottage Grove from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 13, 2023.

In lieu of flowers please consider donating to a charitable organization of your choice. Some of Mike's favorites included The Madison Cat Project and The Dane County Humane Society. Online condolences may be made at www.gundersonfh.com.

Gunderson East

Funeral & Cremation Care

5203 Monona Drive

(608) 221-5420