Mike will be missed

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Mike Straight, Nevada mayor pro-tem, left this life experience on Wednesday, April 27.

His friendliness, his sense of humor, his smile, his leadership and his interest in people -- as well as in the community and his church -- will be missed by many of us. Many tributes have been said about him and many more could be said. Last Saturday one lady commented that he "was an awfully nice person."

Everybody that we meet in life makes a contribution, and some seem to stand out more than others. When a special person like Mike leaves us, I have to make a few comments.

However my words are not adequate nor is the small space that I will be using -- it would actually take a book with many chapters to write it all.

Like many others, I met Mike at the skating rink several years ago.

When I was young, I was a good skater, even though I said it myself. Not as good as many others, but good. I had and still have my own skates.

When I met Mike, our daughter Sherri was skating. As an adult I did not do much skating, except maybe at parties, such as a 4-H skating party. When you do not use it, you lose it and my skating ability detracted. When Sherri skated as a child, I did OK. Even then, Mike thought my skates were antiques -- not as nice as the new type of skates.

In recent years, I became better acquainted with this unique individual. He gave me a hard time every time I saw him -- and I loved every moment of it. I was told that he not only gave me a hard time, but he gave everybody a hard time.

When my skates did not fit me as well as they did when I was younger, I rented skates when I needed them. A few years ago, my grandchildren talked me into going skating with them. A few months before that I had skated; and although I found it hurt a little more when I fell, and I had some fear of skating, I still was able to skate.

This time I could not get going. It was couples' skate and one of my granddaughters wanted me to skate with her. There was a time in life that I loved to couples' skate and was good at it.

I took Cristie's hand and carefully stepped on the floor to skate.

The lights went off and those modern small spot lights started going all over the place -- that did not help me a bit. Those skates absolutely would not go for me. I had to give up and take the skates off.

All of this led to a column that I wrote , "Skating is not what it used to be."

The next time I saw Mike, he really gave me a hard time. He said, "It is not the roller skating that is not the same, It is the old man."

Believe me, he poured it on me over that column. This was a humorous situation for both of us.

While he was living in the Lee's Summit area, he was operating a roller skating rink up there as well. Before he had assumed any leadership positions in our area, he told me he had experience with leadership positions up there. Here he became a member of the Main Street board and served as president. In that position he served as ex-official member of the chamber of commerce board.

He served as a chamber ambassador for about four years. He attended many of the ribbon cuttings that I also attended. He was enthusiastic about each one. Always, he commented about not being as tall as I am. At an indoor ribbon-cutting for the Eagles Lodge, Mike stepped up on the stage behind me, and commented, "I am taller than Leonard."

At chamber meetings, as ambassador, he stood at the entrance with other ambassadors to greet people with his smile and enthausim, often teasing people or fellow ambassadors. He had a way of creating a smile and often a laugh.

He was a strong advocate for Nevada.

Of special interest to him was development of the airport. Many of us do not realize what an improved municipal airport can mean in bringing in new business and expansion of what we have. He led much of the effort to improve the airport.

It has been suggested that a new building at the airport be named in his memory.

With many of the things named after individuals, I may not agree, but this one seems appropriate and should be done.

He not only gave leadership to this community, but he put effort into others to be familiar about Nevada. He served as board member of the Missouri Municipal League in Jefferson City. It is great that he was willing to represent the community in this manner.

His enthuasiasm for the community includes being active in Bushwhacker Days.

Of special interest to him and activity he promoted during Bushwhacker Days was the pie auction for the pie to be thrown in a face of a celebrity. Last year this project raised $912 for the chamber which was used for Pride Scholarships. With those funds and the funds from the auction at the chamber banquet, $2,000 were used to give four scholarships to seniors in Vernon County.

Mike's idea was to conduct the contest on Saturday when more people can attend. This year, the Saturday contest will be named after Mike, "Straight In Your Face Celebrity Pie Auction."

Mike had compassion for others. Kathi Wysong, chamber of commerce director said, "We knew where we stood in his eyes."

Mike had a great amount of humor during his suffering to the end. I was told that the staff at the hospital was not sure if it was his humor or the medication -- it was his humor.

He kept it up until the last two or three days when the pain medication took over.

It is great that he had the humor and the relationships he had.

There were many tributes to Mike during his funeral which he referred to as a celebration of his life. He had planned the services.

Special sympathy is extended to his family and close friends.

According to Mark Mitchell, minister at the Deerfield Baptist Church where Mike was a leader, Mike did not want to be told goodbye, instead, "We will see you later."

Therefore, Mike, we will see you later.