Michael Holoweiko

Obituary of Michael Holoweiko

Michael Holoweiko—our amazing and beloved father, brother, uncle, grandfather, and great-grandfather—was joyously welcomed into heaven to entertain God and all the angels and saints with fantastic stories, jokes, and accordion music from March 13, 2020, to all eternity. A train whistle signaled to one and all that he was charging ahead. A veritable force of nature, with boundless energy, good cheer, and generosity, he had graced this Earth for nearly 99 years.

Born on Aug. 9, 1921, in Albion, Mich., Mike was the third of seven children of Alexander Holoweiko and Tekla Terpak. The two had emigrated to America from Brest-Litovsk, Ukraine (“White Russia,” now Belarus), and Galicia, Austria, respectively, met one another in Passaic, N.J., and married in 1916.

Mike started life on their small family farm in Albion. At age five, they moved to Lansing, where he attended New Guinea grade school and Central High School, hitchhiking to the latter every day. He learned taxidermy through a club, and mounted such creatures as pheasants, deer, and—for Potter Park Zoo—a monkey and a lion. His father bought him a beginner accordion through the Spiegel Catalog. He took 60 lessons for $1 each at a shop downtown, and thus began a lifetime of entertaining family and friends with rousing polkas, waltzes, ballads, and martial music. Later, Tekla and Alex divorced, and she married a cousin of his from Poland—Onufry Holowak—who bought Mike a full-size accordion.

As a first-generation American, Mike seized every opportunity and became a classic self-made man. He took classes in drafting, metallurgy, and trigonometry that led him to become a Master Patternmaker. In 1940 at age 22, he was hired as an apprentice at Lansing Pattern Company for $1.13 an hour. Working from blueprints drawn by engineers, he built the first prototype parts for new Oldsmobiles, and then for tanks and bombers during World War II.

Mike met the love of his life—Madelyne Frances (Donovan) Holoweiko—on a hayride, and married her on Jan. 11, 1947. Together, they raised six children, paid cash for their homes in Colonial Village and Groesbeck, and never needed a credit card. They enjoyed family vacations at Gun Lake, as well as roller skating, card-playing, bowling, and square dancing with friends. Mike’s skills as an outdoorsman enabled him to bring home a continuous catch of bluegills, bass, smelt, and pheasants, plus many deer from the Jones property in Harrison, Mich.; Madelyne’s cooking, baking, and preserving efforts ensured that the family was well-fed.

They were a team at work, too. After Mike bought his own shop—Capital Pattern Company—in 1963, Madelyne handled the bookwork until he and his partner, Jack Houser, sold the successful enterprise in 1977.

Mike loved his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren immensely. He delighted in getting down on the floor to play with the little ones well into his 90s. And he rewarded each with cash for their performances at every academic honors, music, and sports event he attended. He also loved following the Detroit Tigers and MSU Spartans, eating Kewpee hamburgers, and counting everything from the raisins in his oatmeal to the keepers he caught while fishing (usually 1,000+ per season).

Mike is survived by his sons Mark (Anne Harcus) and Jeff (Victoria Johnson-Chevoor); daughters Mary Ellen, Julie (Ron) Waligorski, and Melinda (Roger) Kochenderfer; daughter-in-law Barbara VanderVeen Holoweiko; 13 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren; sisters Naida and Ann, and many nieces and grand-nieces, nephews and grand-nephews. He was predeceased by his parents, wife Madelyne, son Gregg, brother Alexis, and sisters Olga, Nina, and Vera.

As he entered the pearly gates and met God in person, Mike said with a smile, "Why, you've got something on the tip of your nose!"

“Pray tell, what might that be?” asked the all-knowing Lord, touching his nose and winking at the heavenly host gathered around.

"It's your finger, see?" said Mike with a mischievous laugh.

“You certainly belong here, my fun-loving son,” answered God. “Madelyne also welcomes you home.”

In accordance with his wishes, there will be no memorial service.

A private celebration of Michael’s life will be held later in the spring. In lieu of flowers, donations in his name may be made to the Church of the Resurrection, 1531 E. Michigan Ave, Lansing, MI 48912; to Michigan Project F.I.S.H. at www.projectfish.org, or to the charity of your choice. Condolences may be shared online at


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