A tribute to Mike Fak
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[September 02, 2014]
LINCOLN - A few months ago at a social
gather, while having a conversation with a couple I had just met,
Mike Fak did one of his famous drive-by greetings where he comes up
walking fast, barged in, paused momentarily, shook the person’s hand
and quickly said, “Hi, how are you?” and then in a blink walked away
before the question could be answered. The couple looked at me, a
little stunned and asked, “Who was that guy?” I answered, “That’s
Mike Fak!” They responded enthusiastically, “Oh, that’s Mike Fak!”
With a personality larger than life, courage beyond compare, and
an extrovert extraordinaire, Mike Fak had a way of sweeping into
people’s lives and charming them into submission. I heard it said
over and over again: “Everyone likes Mike!”
Jim Grimaldi summed it up best on Facebook when he said that Mike
Fak was truly unique, one of a kind.
Perhaps his greatest asset was his sense of humor. Fak had one of
the quickest wits, coming up with comedic lines out of the blue to
fit any situation. Recently at Balloonfest, Fak was seen tugging on
a rope connected to a balloon while Mike Simonson looked on.
Afterward Fak said he pulled on that rope so hard that he moved the
entire airport 3 feet to the east.
His humor was usually delivered with facial expressions and body
postures that illustrated his joke, attracted your attention, and
got you laughing. His humor tended to relieve tension.
In his humor, Fak was all in.
Fak was never afraid to inject humor into a situation. Sometimes it
just fell flat, and he had this way of dismissing it by laughing at
himself and you found yourself laughing too.
Maybe Fak’s sense of humor was his most attractive quality.
Fak described himself simply as “an old story-teller.” He seemed to
have a colorful story for everything that sprung from his
imagination or his life experience. Listening to him you found
yourself wondering, “how many lives has this guy had?”
His stories were mainly about people and tended to show his
His writing was an extension of his story telling. Ashley Conrady
Aper said on Facebook, “He wrote amazing articles on ALS - and got
to know [my sister] Michelle on a different level when he
interviewed her. More than that - he treated her and our family with
Mayor Keith Snyder said on Facebook: “When he wrote, he wrote to
inform and enlighten, never to agitate and provoke. He was Lincoln
and Logan County’s greatest promoter.”
Fak said that his greatest writing was a short book about the trials
his son Tim went through in his struggles with Cerebral Palsy.
Mike Fak’s wrote about people.
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Maybe Fak’s sensitivity toward people in his writing was
his most valuable quality.
Mike Fak was an encourager. Lindsey Boerma, a journalist for CBS
in Washington DC said in a post that Mike Fak was her mentor,
daily offering brilliant guidance and inspiration that got her
where she is today. Ann Siltman wrote on Facebook, “He has been
my biggest encouragement in my picture taking.” Ashley Conrady
Aper wrote, “. His last email to me was, "let's do this girl"
regarding the ALS 5K last weekend. He was an amazing man.”
Fak wanted people to succeed and went out of his way to help.
Maybe encouragement was his most important quality.
Mike Fak was all about friendship. Fak seemed to set out to make
everyone his friend and be a friend to them all. His friendship
was personal and you knew he was your friend. He said it and he
Ann Siltman said on Facebook that Fak called her "Buddy." Most
people Fak friended he called, “My little buddy,” which people
found to be very endearing.
Dan Hemenway said on Facebook: “He was truly one of the good
guys. Always a smile and a handshake. I am grateful for all he
did for me, but even more grateful for his great attitude about
life and the example he set for me and many others.”
Maybe friendship was Mike Fak’s most endearing quality.
There were so many outstanding qualities to Mike Fak’s
personality and his contribution that this tribute has barely
touched on. Volumes could be written. When we hear the stories
and read people’s comments about him, the question “who was that
guy” is quickly answered, and we can only respond
enthusiastically, that was Mike Fak!
[By JIM YOUNGQUIST]