On Saturday, July 11, 2020, Michael Patrick Minelli passed away at the age of 79.
Born in Hibbing, Minn., Mike Minelli moved to Colorado to attend Colorado College (CC) and play football and hockey. While at CC he met Carol, his wife of 58 years, and eventually the two settled in Longmont, Colo., with their three daughters. He started his career at Manual High School in Denver teaching science and coaching football. He then transferred to Erie High School as a beloved student counselor and later transferred to both Skyline and Longmont High Schools. One job was never enough for Mike. He created a “side job” called Game Birds Unlimited, where he raised pheasant, ducks, chucker partridge and quail for over 50 years. Known as the Bird Man, he provided the game birds to many hunt clubs throughout Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming, New Mexico, Kansas, Idaho and California. Mike was also a respected Master Falconer who enjoyed hunting with his falcons and hawks, breeding American Goshawks as well as mentoring others in the art of falconry.
Known for his sense of humor, Mike was often heard saying: “I’m just trying to feed you, not fatten you.” “Be nice to me, I’m old.” “Touch the electric fence … see what happens.” And, “Company does the dishes.” But he also expressed fatherly words of advice like: “Slow Down!” “Change your oil.” “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
Mike’s family knew him as Dad, Papa, the Dude and Shades, but he himself was often heard referring to his granddaughter’s boyfriends and husbands as “Big Ugly”. To his students, he was Mr. Minelli, who could frequently be overheard saying: “It’s gonna cost you.” The commodity would often be chocolate chip cookies or volunteering for a school event. To friends and colleagues, he was known as a good listener, fair, an advocate for those who were in need of one, and a mentor.
He is survived by his wife, Carol Minelli; their three daughters, Linda Minelli-Frazier, Debbie Freitag, and Kim Minelli; Chuck Freitag, his respected son-in-law; grandchildren, Alix Frazier (Ginger), Kendell and Justin Case, Hailee Minelli, Chaz and April Freitag, Anthony Freitag, and Brooke Freitag (Collyn); his great grandchildren, Waylon Case, Weston and Hunter Freitag; his Aunt, Clara Kearny; his two brothers, Pat (Evon), and Tim (Linda) Minelli; and multiple cousins, nieces and nephews.
Mike was preceded in death by his parents, Deloris and Ernie Minelli; and cousin, Richard Maras (Joy).
The family has been graciously humbled by the outpouring of love and support from Mike’s former community of colleagues, previous students, neighbors, friends and falconers. We would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you.
He was laid to rest at Foothills Gardens of Memory Cemetery July 17, 2020, surrounded by his family. Mike succumbed to the Covid 19 virus.
Please, in lieu of flowers, the Minelli family requests donations be made to either the Colorado Hawking Club, Colorado College Athletic Department, or the Denver Zoo.
A Celebration of Life will be held at a future date.
A graveside service has already occurred.