Michelle Joann Milakovich
ISHPEMING, MI – Michelle Joann Milakovich, formerly of 776 Mather Avenue, Ishpeming, passed away on May 14th, 2022, just 6 days following her 81st birthday. Michelle had been a resident of Mill Creek Assisted Living facility in Marquette, for the last five years.
Michelle was born into the hearts of her parents, Glen and Myrtle Carlson Robar, on May 8th, 1941, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Her family later relocated to Champion, Michigan.
Michelle was a gifted child who grew into an accomplished young woman. She was the Valedictorian of Ishpeming High School class of 1959. Post-graduation, Michelle attended the University of Michigan with an English Major where she was recognized as a James B. Angell Scholar. She became a member of the Sigma Kappa Sorority, with a little help from the Dean of Women. Michelle graduated from the U of M on August 17th, 1963, with a Bachelor of Arts degree, with honors, from the College of Literature, Science and Arts. She earned her Master of Education from Northern Michigan University on May 5th, 1981.
Michelle began her illustrious teaching career when she accepted her first position in Newport, California. She was fearless, not only was she more than 2000 miles from home but her students spoke very little English. After teaching in California for a few years, she moved back to the Ishpeming area to teach at Ely Township School, North Lake. She was a First-Grade educator for forty years and finally retired in 2002 from the Aspen Ridge School. She was a beloved teacher, who was committed to the success of her students and the effectiveness of the education process. Her classroom was described as an “Oasis of Calm”. Michelle was an unconventional and innovative teacher, rather than taking on an authoritative role to provide structure, she chose to respect and collaborate with the children. Throughout her life she was approached by former students, now adults, who would share how much they loved having her as their First-Grade teacher. She made a difference and an impact on this world that will never be forgotten.
Michelle married her loving husband, Peter Milakovich of Ironwood, on October 25th, 1969. Children loved Michelle, but none more than her own son Michael who was born on February 13th, 1971. There has not been another mother on this planet who has loved her son more than Michelle loved Mike. The phrase “apple of my eye” was undoubtedly invented by someone who knew of their relationship.
Upon her retirement in 2002, Michelle relocated to Madison, Wisconsin, where she resided for the next 9 years. A lifelong learner, she audited classes at the University of Wisconsin, not to earn credit, but to expand her knowledge. She loved to have visitors with whom she could share all the interesting and unique restaurants, local shops, and gardens she had found. She liked to quote Sidney Poitier as saying “what I will miss most is breakfast, lunch and dinner”.
After her time in Madison she moved to Santa Barbara, California, where she lived for several years. When living in LA, during her first teaching job, she would drive up with her best friend, Liz Bass, to window shop and enjoy the food. Ever since, she wanted to live there and somehow made it work. She loved art, so much in fact, she studied and trained to become a docent at the Santa Barbara Art Museum in California. It was as tough a curriculum as anything she had faced before but she made it through where most did not. At the museum, she gave tours and presentations to the visitors, including groups of school kids, with whom she made an immediate connection.
Michelle was easy going and kind. She prioritized not just her family but the relationships she had with her friends. She was selfless, the kind of friend who would drop everything to seize the day and take an unplanned trip or stand two hours in line to get a book signed by her friend’s favorite author. She was the aunt who sent gifts of balloon making kits and gingerbread houses, recycled toys and personalized jewelry, always accompanied by a special note to say, “hello and I am thinking of you”. She lived her life to the fullest and took advantage of each day she was given. Her time on this earth may be over but her legacy remains in the hearts and minds of the many who knew and loved her.
Michelle was preceded in death by her parents, Glen and Myrtle Robar; her beloved brother, Raoul Robar; brothers and sisters-in-law: Nick, Mary, Kay, Jean, John, Ellen and Frank Milakovich and her special dog, “Beaucoup”.
Michelle is survived by her devoted husband of 53 years, Peter Milakovich of Marquette; her son, Michael Milakovich of Portland, Oregon; sister-in-law, Betty Gifford of Milwaukee, WI; nephew, Justin (Stephanie) Robar of Negaunee; nieces, Nicole (Stephan) Spurlock of West Lafayette, IN and Rae Ann Robar of Negaunee; and special friends, Robbie McBride and Fred Grandchamp of Marquette.
The family will greet relatives and friends at the St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, from 10:00am – 11:00am, on Friday, May 20th, 2022, where a Mass of Christian Burial will be Celebrated at 11:00AM on Friday with the Rev. Fr. Ryan Ford officiating. A luncheon will follow the services in the K/D Hall at church. Interment will take place at the Ishpeming Cemetery.
The family would like to give special thanks to the nurses and staff off Mill Creek Assisted Living Center for the exceptional care and love they gave to Michelle while she was a resident.
Memorials may be directed to the St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Michelle’s memory.
Michelle’s obituary may also be viewed at bjorkandzhulkie.com, where relatives and friends may leave a note of remembrance.