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December 5, 2019

12/3/2019 1:52:00 PM
Knigge, Michael R.

Michael R. Knigge
The sun became less bright and the world less interesting when on October 28, 2019 Michael Robert Knigge left to begin his next adventure. He wanted his exit from this earthly world to be quiet and private. He requested no memorial service, did not want a funeral and could care less about a headstone or grave marker. His family indulged him on all of these requests except has ignored his plea for no obituary. His loved ones could not let him quietly move on without telling some of his life story.
Mike was born 68 years ago in Waukegan, Illinois. The first child of Rosemarie (Firgens) Knigge and Robert James Knigge. He, and his siblings, Lynn DiGiorgio (Pompano Beach, FL), Thomas (Miryam) Knigge (Miami Springs, FL), Kim Harden (St. Petersburg, FL), Patricia (Buddy) Smith (St. Petersburg, FL), and Mary Rivero (Vero Beach, FL), grew up in Florida. As a teenager he moved from the urban metropolis of Miami to live with his grandparents on their rural northern Wisconsin farm. He was the first young man to wear bell bottom pants in this farming community. His cousins recall he "had a swagger that made girls swoon and the boys tried to imitate." In 1970, he graduated from Suring High School and later attended the University of Wisconsin. While in college, he was involved with Students for a Democratic Society, demonstrated against the war, marched on State Street and ended his academic education to pursue his interest in politics. He traveled to Mississippi in 1971 to work on the gubernatorial campaign of Charles Evers, the brother of slain civil rights leader, Medgar Evers. There he registered voters, recruited campaign volunteers and met his future wife, Carolyn L. Smith. He later crisscrossed the country working to elect George McGovern president and worked as a staff aide to US Senator John Glenn during Glenn's first senatorial campaign. Upon returning to Wisconsin, he continued to support progressive state and local candidates who, like him, cherished our democracy, valued the civil rights granted by our Constitution and believed in justice for all.
In 1979, he started working for the USPS for what he thought would be a short time. Things change. From 1980 to 1983, he unconditionally supported his wife's decision to go to law school and provided unwavering support to her when she left Wisconsin to study in Washington, D.C. At times during his career, he worked as a mail carrier, rural route inspector and postmaster in Oshkosh, Madison, Verona and Ridgeway. In 2015, while serving as Supervisor of Customer Services in the Dodgeville Post Office, he retired. Mike loved living in the Driftless Area of southern Wisconsin. He insisted on building a home here and only his death could take him away. For a period of time he was a volunteer firefighter with the Ridgeway Fire Department and always a proud supporter of the Iowa County Democratic Party.
After being diagnosed with throat cancer in March 2019, he was treated, and received wonderful care at the UW Hospital and Clinics and the Carbone Cancer Center. A special "thank you" is given to Drs. Justine Bruce and Matthew Witek for their compassion and commitment to provide Mike with the best possible care during his illness. Upland Hills Health Hospice gave Mike, and his family, great comfort and support at the end of his life.
Michael would want his friends and loved ones to raise a glass, offer a humorous toast in his memory and celebrate life rather than mourn his death. When winter sets in and the cold winds howl, Mike's family will honor his wish and scattered his ashes in the turquoise blue waters of the Caribbean. Mike enjoyed the music of fun-loving, pot smoking, anti-establishment artist Willie Nelson and those who will miss this spirited soul take solace in the last line of Nelson's song, Just Breathe, to say, we'll "meet you on the other side."

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