Jan. 14, 1929 - April 16, 2013
MISHAWAKA — Michael Frank Portolese, 84, of Mishawaka, passed away Tuesday, April 16, 2013, at St. Joseph Regional Medical Center, Mishawaka, from complications of the colon cancer that he battled for the past 16 months.
Mike was born Jan. 14, 1929, in Mishawaka to the late Francesco and Domenica Portolese. He was a graduate of the Mishawaka High School class of 1946. He married his sweetheart, Rosalie (Young), on Sept. 24, 1960, in Massena N.Y., after only three dates and within three months of their meeting. It was a marriage born of love and devotion.
Mike and Rosalie were blessed with three children, Michael (Lisa), Timothy (Dr. Bruce Newswanger), and Angela (Stephen) Wroblewski. His pride was his grandchildren, who fondly called him Poppie: Anthony and Maria Tomlinson, Kaitlin, Michael T., Olivia and Abigail Portolese; one of his stepgrandchildren, Stephen R. Wroblewski; as well as his granddogs. Mike is also survived by his sister, Mary Schimizzi; brothers Ross (Mary) Portolese, Pat (Dorothy) Portolese, Bert (Mary) Portolese, Tony “Doc” Portolese and Joe (Beth Ann) Portolese; his in-laws, Lyndon and Mary Dow, Charles and Sandra Young, Prudence and James Smith, and Charlotte McManus; as well as many beloved nieces and nephews.
His parents and his brother-in-law, Don, preceded him in death.
Mike honorably served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War from 1951 through 1953. In 1964, he joined the Mishawaka Fire Department and worked his way through the ranks until he was named department chief in 1984, where he served until 1989, when he assumed the position of chief inspector. He retired in 1999 at the age of 70 after 35 years of service. He was extremely proud of his grandson, Anthony, who followed in his footsteps and was appointed to the Mishawaka Fire Department in 2012.
Mike and Rosalie shared 52 wonderful years together with travels to Florida, Las Vegas, Alaska, Australia and New York. He loved to work in his yard planting flowers and manicuring his lawn. He was a member of the VFW, Maria SS DiLoreto Society, Mishawaka Alumni Association and Queen of Peace Catholic Church.
He will forever be remembered for his sly smile and kind words for everyone. Mike was always the first to lend a helping hand to anyone in need or who needed a smile on their face.
Sincere thanks to all those who helped Mike through his battle with colon cancer, including his “girlfriends” from the third floor staff at Elkhart General Hospital, Dr. Bilal Ansari and his wonderful staff at Michiana Hematology/Oncology and finally the kind and caring team on the oncology floor of St. Joseph Regional Medical Center. Special thanks go to his daughter in-law, Lisa, who gave of herself so unselfishly to care for Mike throughout his illness.
Visitation for Mike will be from 2 to 8 p.m. Friday, April 19, 2013, at Bubb Funeral Chapel, 3910 N. Main St., Mishawaka, with a rosary at 6 p.m. Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10:30 Saturday, April 20, 2013, at Queen of Peace Catholic Church, 4508 Vistula Road, Mishawaka, where friends may call one hour prior to Mass. Burial will follow in the veterans section of Fairview Cemetery in Mishawaka.
The family’s preferred memorials are The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (www.firehero.org) or The American Cancer Society.