Mike Pavlish was a complex man who fought his many trials and tribulations with honor and dignity. He didn’t grouse a lot about his own luck, though he definitely knew his way around a good grumble. Born with scoliosis, Mike spent almost a decade of his youth in a full-metal back brace. But he wouldn’t let that cage keep him from playing Little League baseball or becoming an all-state wrestler in high school. He was the sort of guy who could see the good in anybody, especially folks who needed a second chance. Mike always did the best he could with a positive attitude and in the end, on Sept. 2, 2018, he succumbed to a type of cancer most folks survive.
Mike had a quick wit and a wonderful, infectious laugh. He looked forward to adventures involving wild animals and critters large or small. As an avid reader, fisherman and Twins baseball fan, Mike could strike up a conversation with just about anyone. He was an intellect who held strong views on politics, religion and how best to BBQ Montana beef.
Being a history and geography buff, he was drawn to the open prairies of Eastern Montana and North Dakota. He enjoyed long car rides on lonely stretches of road where he could see for tens of miles in any direction. You could seldom mention a small Western town where Mike didn’t know the connecting roadways, from where the river flowed, and the name of the local high school team.
Mike had a good heart with reflective charisma and kindness that just fell out of him whenever he was looking at something or someone he loved. He loved his sons and his family, and was forever affected by the loss of his infant daughter. In his final years, his source of joy was watching his grandkids, listening to them, holding them, or just thinking about them. Even through his pain, Mike’s eyes lit up whenever he talked about Lucy and James.
Although born in Dickinson, North Dakota, on April 2, 1955, Michael Francis Pavlish grew up in Billings, and graduated from Billings Central. His work included insurance adjusting, building houses, rebuilding auto bodies, and driving delivery trucks. Handy with tools, he was frequently called upon by family and friends to build or fix things.
Mike is preceded in death by his grandparents; his father, Donald Pavlish; and his daughter, Rita Mary Pavlish. He is survived by his mother, Mary (Tobin) Pavlish; his siblings, Donna Pavlish, Diane (Dave) Pauli and Daniel (Sheila) Pavlish; his sons, Vincent (Julie) and Joseph (Amy) from his marriage to Eileen Sheehy; his grandchildren, Lucy and James Pavlish; and his nieces, Maggie and Katie Pauli. Mike is so loved and he will be missed.
A BBQ and celebration of Mike’s life will be held at ZooMontana from 5:15 to 7:15 p.m. Monday, Sept. 10 (Hawaiian shirts are encouraged.) A funeral mass will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 11, at St. Pius X Catholic Church, 717 18th St. West.
Mike’s family is grateful for the tender care he received over the last year from the staff at St. Vincent Healthcare and Frontier Cancer Center. In lieu of flowers, please support charities that help people who have cancer.