Email Address

Monday, August 26, 2013

Celebration of Life Scheduled

We are reserving the Juneau Arts and Culture Center (JACC) for a Celebration of Life on Sunday, October 13 at 2:00 pm. Please mark your calendars and pass the word.

Klas Stolpe, who normally reports on sports for the Juneau Empire, has written a lovely tribute to Mike in Tuesday's paper.

If you haven't read the comments on the KTOO story on Mike, there are some very nice ones. 

The Juneau Empire is working on a story about Mike. Call the reporter, Katie Moritz, at 907-523-2294 or email her if you would like to provide her with some information about Mike.

Photos of Mike

Last summer when Mike's friend, Jan Tiura was visiting from California, she took some beautiful photos of Mike. She has offered to make digital files available to friends and family who are interested. You can contact her directly at if you are interested. I have included one of the photos here for you to see.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Memorial for Mike

We are beginning to plan for Mike's memorial. Two weekends are being considered. The preferred weekend is November 2. This would allow those who would be coming from out of town more time to plan and to advance purchase airline tickets. The other date would be the weekend of October 12. If you could not make it in November and prefer the weekend of October 12, please comment below this blog or email Judy.

As of now, a venue has not been chosen; however, the Juneau Arts and Culture Center (JACC) is being considered. If you have other ideas for an appropriate venue, please comment below this blog or email Judy to let her know. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Something Old and Something New

There are some wonderful old family photos that Mike's niece, Lisa Tansey, has posted from a trip to Germany with her father, David (Mike's brother).

Trip to Germany

 Also, there was a very nice news report on Mike on KTOO radio this morning. You can read it here.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Michael John Kirk 8/6/1924 - 8/22/2013

Mike Kirk died this morning, Thursday, August 22, 2013, at about 6:40 am. Bruce Botelho was with him at the time when he stopped breathing in his sleep. We (Judy and Jay Crondahl) got back to Juneau at about 10:00 last night. Katy Hursch sat with him from 10:00 pm until just before 2:00 am and Beth Leibowitz provided backup at the end of Katy's shift and at the beginning of mine. I went in at 2:00 and was there until almost 5:00 when Bruce came in. Mike was sleeping soundly the entire time so I don't think he even knew I was there. 
Thanks to all who helped and especially to those who volunteered and spent time with him in his last days.

Judy Crondahl

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Mike's Condition

Shana posted the following as a comment to the blog below but I am reposting here to make sure it gets seen.

Got a report from Arnie Weimer this morning that Mike is not doing well and may need to have someone with him at all times now. Arnie says what is not needed are large groups of people or a lot of chatting. He needs quiet support from just a few people at a time. Arnie said he was sleeping a lot and waking up scared and incoherent, which is what he was doing with me last night. One time last night he woke up terrified. 

Carl Brodersen went over after Arnie this morning, and Craig Wilson just went to relieve Carl. I am in a meeting all day, and am unable to go over until this evening. We can figure out this evening whether or not Mike should have someone with him all night, and at that point perhaps can work out shifts to take turns. I’ll let you know when I hear an update from Carl, Craig, or someone else. 

If you visit Mike, keep the chatter and noise level down, as he is easily startled and scared right now.

Thanks, Shana Crondahl

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Email from Mike's Niece -- Part 2

Probably my favorite experience with Uncle Mike was a long phone conversation with him just after I graduated from UC San Diego in 1993.  He called me as I was packing up my apartment and we chatted for over an hour.  I learned so much about him and his brothers from that phone conversation!

I should probably add that he did try to help me with my math when he would visit us in the 70s and early 80s, but I am a bit of a hopeless case when it comes to numbers.  I'm not sure that I was able to convince him that my degree in Linguistics was really "math with words"!

Mainly I set out to write to you to express my appreciation for all you have done for Uncle Mike and for sharing his story via the blog.  You have allowed me to see facets of him that I never knew existed.  It is particularly heartening to know that there are so many people who care about his well-being and are taking the time to visit and look after him.

My dad (Uncle Mike's cousin through their mothers somehow), has been widowed for 5 years and has had his share of medical issues, including a broken hip in 2011 and a hospitalization for cellulitis this past Spring.  I know from personal experience what energy and vigilance it takes to be the watchdog and companion for a loved one during a medical crisis.  I also know how quickly well-meaning people's energy fades or is diverted by the other distractions of daily life, so I see how truly blessed Uncle Mike is to have the sustained support of so many.

I only just found out about the seriousness of his case two days ago and got the link to your blog today, but oddly enough, thought about Uncle Mike, out of the blue, early this past Monday morning while at my dad's, during my daily visit to take care of him and his cats.  I think maybe some of Uncle Mike's energy is still hanging around that kitchen he entertained us in so many years ago!

With sincere appreciation and a request that you pass long distance hugs and love from Roxanna in Santa Barbara on to him.

-Roxanna Stern Nocker

Email from Mike's Niece -- Part 1

I just received a very long and lovely email from a niece of Mike's that I am going to post in its entirety. Because of the limitations of my Mini-iPad, I will have to post in two or more segments.

Hi Judy-

I am Ron Stern's daughter in Santa Barbara, CA. My cousin Gerald sent me the link to your blog about Uncle Mike. (He has insisted for years that I call him simply "Mike" or "Cousin Mike", but I can't seem to shake the name I have called him since early childhood.)

Mike's brother Ernest used to spend most Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays with us, since we are not far from where Ernest lived in Los Angeles.  Mike made many visits to our home in those days too.  I remember him as being quite the comedian!   He once had my mom, grandmother, and me in stitches, doing funny voices while wearing a range of different hats.

The only time I ever saw that Uncle Mike's brother Ernest had a funny side, was when the two of them did a spontaneous comedy routine for our family as we gathered in the living room of our home on Christmas Eve.

I loved the books he would send me for my birthday, all written by Alaskan authors, and read them over and over. I have at least one of them in my home for my daughters to read when they are old enough.  The others may be at my dad's house about 1/2 a mile away from me.

When my first child was born, Uncle Mike sent me a beautiful quilt that he said he bought at a church bazaar in Juneau.  My kids squabble over who gets to use it as a lap quilt on chilly mornings in their dad's truck on the way to school.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A Good Day

Shana called me this afternoon and told me she had visited Mike for about an hour today. She said he was better today than she had seen him in over a week. He was alert, in a good mood and very articulate. He even sent her off to buy a new math book. He has been solving math problems in his head. He was in little to no pain but so alert that if he was on pain medication, it was not clouding his thinking. All in all, a very good day.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Looking for Jim

Mike has asked Barbara May to contact one of his former students. His name is Jim but Mike can't remember his last name. He was a student at JDHS in the early to mid-70s when Mike had his court case with the school district. Jim testified for Mike and now Mike would like to be able to talk to him again. For a while Jim was living in Anchorage and was a Bishop with the Morman Church. More recently he has been an attorney living in Snowflake, Arizona. If anyone knows how to contact him, or even his last name, please email Barbara May at or call her at 907-723-5000.

Also, please see the comment from Shana on the post below on visiting Mike.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Thank You

Jay and I (Judy) are on vacation for several weeks but other friends continue to visit Mike at Wildflower Court. There were many people at his birthday celebration on Saturday, estimates vary widely. He continues to have visitors and enjoys telling stories although his short term memory is such that he doesn't always remember who has visited. 

Shana took a picture of the view from his window that enjoys so much. We wanted to post it on the blog but my mini-iPad freezes up when i try to post pictures. 

Mike has stopped going to the physical therapy room, although he is doing some therapy in his bed. He has largely stopped eating and is in the process of saying goodbye to his friends who visit. One thing that he mentioned to Shana is that he doesn't want to die alone or with strangers, which is why he has declined Hospice care. Wildflower Court accepts his decision and will contact us when his time is near. It would be good to have a list of his friends who would be available to be with him during that time. If you would like to volunteer, please email me at with your name and phone number. Feel free to specify times when you do or do not want to be called. 

Thank you to everyone who has spent time with Mike while he has been in Seattle or at Wildflower Court. He has appreciated your caring.