I last saw Mike just two weeks ago, at the Old Chicago in Southgate. We were best friends for forty years.

My journey with Mike began in the early 1970s, when we started hanging together with friends at the K-Andy bar in Detroit. Mike was small in stature and suffered from many physical difficulties, but it would be a mistake to judge a man like him by his size. Mike was a giant. He was one of the most honest, loyal, decent human beings I have ever known. Over the years, through good times and bad, we talked about the old neighborhood, sports, politics, and our families. He was a patriot and a real law-and-order guy. He was also endlessly tolerant of beliefs not his own. We could debate anything, even religion. (Mike was a devout Catholic, and I’m agnostic.) I’m sure we both learned a lot from each other.

Mike Kozel, Tom Howard, me, and my son, Michael Ankony

Mike was a vastly rich man—not so much in money, but in being blessed with a loving family and friends. He would often speak of the virtues of his mother and father and about how his dad, despite being raised in an orphanage and experiencing the horrific violence of World War II, was such a loving person.

Mike was never jealous. Indeed, he enjoyed living vicariously through everyone. We often talked on the cell phone during my long runs, and it felt as if he were right there by my side. And when I couldn’t run because of an injury, Mike empathized. More than once, I asked him, “How can you be so concerned about my injuries when even walking is so difficult for you?”

“I can’t miss what I never had,” he would always reply.

Mike never harmed or mistreated anyone. And if there’s a heaven, I’m certain that Mike’s there right now, running on a beach, playing hockey, and talking with his mom and dad about all his fond memories of Corktown and Tiger Stadium.

Trust me, Mike, you're missed by many people.




AuthorRobert Ankony