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Michael Frederick Blevins

November 18, 1954 - February 14, 2021

Michael Frederick Blevins, the beloved father and doting grandpa who lived his mantra of "be a friend, have a friend" until his final breath, died peacefully Sunday, Feb. 14, at Northgate Care Center in Waukon. He was 66.

It was only fitting that on Valentine’s Day a man loved by so many finally got his wish to soar like Superman.

Mike was born Nov. 18, 1954, in Topeka, Kansas, where his ironclad sense of right and wrong was ingrained in him by his father, Alfred, a proud member of the U.S. Marines and longtime employee of the trucking industry, and his natural curiosity fostered by his mother, Phyllis, an educator and lifelong learner. He was one of four children to grow up in what became affectionately known by his three girls as "the Topeka house," and the Flint Hills of Kansas forever held a place in his heart.


After graduating from Topeka High School in 1972, Mike continued his relentless pursuit of knowledge at Kansas State University. First and always a Wildcat, he began by studying architecture before turning his attention to history, where he was captivated by the 1954 Brown v Board of Education decision that centered on fifth grade teacher, Lucinda Todd. After heading off to law school at Washburn University, Mike spent more than a decade practicing law in Salina, Kansas, including several years as a partner at Blevins, Thompson and Heidrich. The winding road of Mike's life later led him to studying at Denver Seminary and North Park University to become an ordained pastor, returning to Salina and First Covenant Church before planting and tending churches in Decorah, Iowa, and Tigard, Oregon. Then it was back to the law and an advanced degree in intercultural human rights at St. Thomas University College of Law, which he would put to use the rest of his life with the Northeast Iowa Peace and Justice Center and as an ethics and philosophy instructor at Northeast Iowa Community College.

A voracious reader, Mike epitomized the JRR Tolkien quote: "Not all those who wander are lost."

He was never defined by what he did, though, which including turns as a coffee house manager, radio host and the director of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum. Rather, Mike was defined by those who surrounded him. Together with his former spouse, Katie Blevins, they had three precious girls: Amy, Kelly and Wendy. And while Mike was prone to grand gestures, it was simple fishing trips on the weekend, complete with donuts and chocolate milk, and holidays spent chattering around a dinner table weighed down by Phyllis' homemade noodles that stand out most among their memories.

Each of the girls married and soon, Mike had gone from daddio of three to "Bumpa" to six rambunctious grandchildren: Isaac and Owen, Lizzie and Charlie, Devlin and Ella. Then there were the countless friends and family drawn to him like a magnet, among them Christopher Fassbender, who Mike not only considered his adoptive son but who helped the family care for him through the long few years when a stroke had stolen many of his physical abilities.

Mike was in many ways a complex man for complex times. He sought truth and justice for less fortunate, passionately worked for Democratic ideals, championed initiatives to combat climate change and attempted to leave the world a better place; those who knew him know he did. But Mike also enjoyed simple things: summer visits to Lake Minnetonka, devouring The New York Times over a cup of coffee, and visiting with friends in the shops along Water Street in Decorah. He loved to write and paint, was a whiz at Trivial Pursuit and - allergies be damned - loved to spend time outdoors.

He is survived by former spouse Katie Blevins of Chaska, Minnesota; daughters Amy (Eric) Cameron of Burbank, California, Kelly (fiancĂ© William Smith, and former husband David) Skretta of Lenexa, Kansas, and Wendy (Richard) Gray of Tigard, Oregon; sister Beth (Larry) Briggs of Wichita, Kansas, and brothers Zack Blevins of Topeka and Tom Blevins of Ann Arbor, Michigan; six beloved grandchildren; niece Emily Briggs (fiancĂ© Neale Flynn) of Overland Park, Kansas, and nephews Travis Briggs of Wichita, Kansas, and Nathan Blevins; numerous aunts, uncles and cousins, along with scores of friends overjoyed to know Mike is soaring in the heavens, even if they are left to grieve the loss of someone whose quick smile and infectious laugh only served to brighten their days.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Alfred in 2008 and Phyllis (Lippe) Blevins in 2013. Both are buried in Topeka, Kansas.

There will be a memorial service for Mike at a later date. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in his name to one of the many causes he considered important: the American Stroke Foundation, the Northeast Iowa Peace and Justice Center, the Brown vs Board of Education National Historic Site, Saving Innocence and The Climate Reality Project.



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