On Friday, October 23, we got the sad news that Mike Multhauf had passed away. Mike had owned his own car repair shop on Division Street in Withee for years. When he passed, there was a short notice from his brother Marshall Multhauf, Chief Deputy at Dunn County Sheriff’s Office. I have still found no obituary to mark his passing. So, I thought I’d better write something.
Mike was one of the first people that I met in the Owen-Withee area. We were close to the same age but he reminded me of one of my grizzled old uncles. Mike and I would sit in his office for a long time, talking about events and ideas. The phrase “he didn’t suffer fools gladly” could certainly have been applied to Mike. He would grumble over somebody’s foolishness or pettiness. He hated the petty.
He had a gruff exterior but the guy was warm-hearted and generous. If he took someone under his care and protection, he would pay any price, do any service, defend against any assault for that person.
I have one experience in mind that I cannot share. Suffice it to say that Mike took on hardship and heartache in order to help one specific person. “I’ll put up with whatever I need to in order to help” this specific person.
We shared a love for live music and we talked about the need for live music in our area.
I discovered the code book for talking with Mike. It didn’t take long. After our first couple of meetings in his shop, where he always took great car of my car, I was determined to figure him out. It was easier that I expected.
He fed these feral cats that kept coming around. In the first meetings, I might have expected him to take a shotgun to them. Not so. Mike strangely cared for people and creatures who’d had it rough, especially through no fault of their own.
“Ah”, I thought to myself. “So, that’s who you are.”
He would do anything for anyone he thought deserved a chance. But he had absolutely no time for those who would take advantage or would not even try to help themselves.
He lived in Curtiss when I first met him, remodeling his barn into a massive man-cave, he said. But he started struggling with his health, as cancer started to weaken his body but never his resolve. His knees were giving out, requiring surgeries, but I never ever heard him complain. It’s not that Mike thought complaining to be weakness, he just didn’t want to hear it come out of his own mouth.
He finally had to sell the property in Curtiss and he moved to Withee. He had bought the shell of the old Hayloft bar and he converted it into a living space, right behind his shop. When he could not longer keep the shop going, he rented the space to Adam Stumpner who continues to run his own shop in the same location.
He liked Adam and really wanted him to succeed. He was happy to have him in Mike’s old space.
Mike had a marvelous way with words. When he was angry with someone’s callousness or selfishness (again, I have some great examples but ask me in private), he could turn on the blue and it would crack me up.
Mike had a ponytail. It was amazing to me that some people simply discounted him, ignoring his wisdom, because of a few strands of hair. And he didn’t care.
He would say, “Good God, if that is all they see, I don’t even wanna know ‘em.” That was on a calmer day. On a more agitated day, he would say things that I dare not print.
The funny thing is, I went by his place that week just to talk. I discovered that he had moved away, I think to be with his brother. Marshall, Mike’s brother, should have the last word.
On Friday, October 23, 2020, Marshall posted on Facebook, “RIP to my brother Mike who was taken way too soon earlier today after a courageous battle with cancer. You were always there for everyone.”
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