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December 10, 1953 ~ December 20, 2023 (age 70) 70 Years Old
Michael Timothy Stempien made his debut in Dearborn, Michigan, on December 10, 1953, and left the planet on December 20, 2023. Mike came along somewhere in the middle of Fabian and Margaret Stempien's 10 children. Loving husband of Linda Kerwin of Sonoma, California, for 23 years. Loving father of Brian Michael Stempien of Portage, Michigan, and John Michael Stempien (wife Araceli Aguirre) of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Loving stepfather of Kerry Lyn Ferrari (husband Chris Ferrari) of San Jose. Devoted grandfather of Nathan Anthony Ferrari. Loving son of Margaret Josephine Stempien of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Brother of Debbie Stempien (husband Harry Thran), Vince Stempien (wife Lori Stempien), Kitty McAndrews (husband Jim McAndrews), Mary Beth Bowen (husband Glenn Bowen), Matt Stempien, and Margaret Hanzel (husband Dewey Hanzel). Loving companion to Gus the Wonder Dog. Loving Uncle and Friend. Predeceased by his father Fabian Vincent Stempien, sister Mickey Stempien, and brothers Charles Stempien and Marcus Stempien.
Mike lived the first 21 years of his life in Michigan and Maine before settling for good in Northern California in 1974, making his home in San Francisco before moving down the peninsula to Palo Alto and San Carlos. Soon after retiring, Mike and Linda found their little piece of paradise in Sonoma, California.
Mike earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration (Finance) at San Francisco State University in 1983. Mike wasn't the type of guy who could settle for just one career. He never met the kind of work he couldn't manage more than passably, including construction and home repair that he learned from his father. In fact, Mike mastered quite a few trades in his working years. His talents lie in Software Programming and Project Manager. The capstone of Mike's professional life was running his business, Minuteman Press in San Mateo, which he owned and managed from 2003 to 2014.
Mike's retirement was anything but retiring. As Linda explains: "Mike found us an ‘adventure of a lifetime’ vacation in San Pancho, Mexico, rescuing turtles. We volunteered for two months and walked the beaches at night searching for turtle nests. The best part was releasing them back into the sea after 45 days when the eggs hatched."
Mike truly loved the home he and Linda made in Sonoma. He served on the Temelec HOA Board of Directors for three years, where he managed the reconstruction of the large pool at Temelec and contributed many hours of problem-solving. Mike was also active with the Rotary Club of San Mateo and the Boys and Girls Club of San Mateo.
Here's a list of Mike's favorite things:
Dogs, Fishing, Family, Football, Hockey, Basketball, Golden Retrievers, Dogs (I mean, the man really loved dogs), Travel, Turtle rescue, Bird watching, Driving through the Southwest
Mike was the truest friend a person could ever have. He made life so much more fun, more interesting, more enlightening, just seeing his love of action and adventure and challenges and wringing every drop out of everything life sends your way. On a bunch of weekends in the middle of winter, Mike and his friends Bob Prevaux and Dennis O'Reilly would grab their camping gear on a Friday night and hitchhike from Detroit to East Lansing, where they would crash in their old school buddy Frank Siciliano's dorm at MSU. Then Saturday morning, they would stick their thumbs out on U.S. 127 and head as far north as they could get. As the sun was ready to set, they would find any old clump of forest - no shortage of them up there then - and just hike their gear a mile or so in, make camp, and then hitchhike home on Sunday evening. Hey, 19.
Mike opened his home to so many family members, friends, and acquaintances over the years. Most of the vagabonds he rescued would spend the rest of their lives trying to do likewise as an indirect way of showing their appreciation for his many kindnesses, too many to count. That's quite a tradition to pass along, and a pretty good legacy of caring and generosity that will just grow and grow for generations to come.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: Compassion Without Borders, https://cwob.org/ This organization is where Gus was rescued. He is the little dog who spent so much time comforting Mike during his last couple years.
I’ve taken in recent years to thinking about my funeral
and have decided to make one paramount request:
play jolly music at that ritual.
What good does it do to heap on dirges
or other mournful melodies?
I won’t be there to be gratified by the grieving
and if I could tune in
I’d be happier to see those present have some relief.
Dixieland would be nice.
Joplin would be fine.
Something by Fats Waller would certainly do.
Those early jazzmen knew what they were up to
when they set about making funeral marches swing.
So swing me away, please, with a rousing tune.