Jan. 13, 1941-March 3, 2019
Michael Raymond McCarthy was born in Seattle, Washington, on January 13, 1941, the second child of Vince and Mary “May” (Murphy) McCarthy. Vince and May had moved to Seattle from Butte a few years before to take jobs in the growing economy of the Seattle area in the lead up to Word War II. The family returned to Butte a few years later, and Mike was raised in Centerville with his older brother Pat, and his younger siblings John and Mary. Mike attended St. Lawrence Catholic School and Butte Central High School, graduating in 1959.
After high school, Mike attended Western Montana College in Dillon, graduating in 1963 with a bachelor’s degree and in 1971 with a master’s degree, both in elementary education, and later completed additional graduate work at the University of Montana. Mike was a strong believer in early childhood education. He dedicated his working life to improving educational and life outcomes for his students, working and living by the mantra that every student deserved the best public education possible.
In 1963, Mike married his life-long partner, Janet Marilyn (McEwen) McCarthy, at the St. Lawrence O’Toole Catholic Church in Walkerville. The couple moved to Reno where Mike began teaching in the Reno school district and they started their family with daughter Dawn Marie and son Patrick Daniel. Mike and Janet returned to Butte in 1967 when Mike accepted a teaching position in Butte, and later completed their family with son Michael Raymond II. They established the family home, first in Walkerville and then in a classic Butte bungalow at the foot of Montana Tech — a house they would call home for over four decades. Mike and Janet were gracious hosts, and together created a fun and inviting home that became a gathering place for holiday parties and family events.
Mike reveled in his role of parent and raising his three children with Janet. Mike came into his own, however, with the role of grandfather. As his children raised their own families, Mike became a fun and loving grandfather to his five grandchildren, Aleisha Marie, Patricia Danielle (“Danielle”), Michaela Dawn, Patrick Daniel (“Danny”) and Kennedy Grace. Truly, his most cherished role was Grandpa. The arrival of his first three granddaughters signaled a seminal change in his and Janet’s lives. Together, Mike and Janet focused their energy on ensuring their granddaughters knew what it meant to be loved. Mike and Janet never missed an event, spending time with the girls and attending their sporting, school, and family functions. Later, he and Janet became caregivers for a time to their grandson Danny, and it did not take Danny long to realize that Grandpa was the ideal co-conspirator — always ready with a candy treat, and willing to take the fall for joint misdeeds. When Kennedy arrived as the grandchild caboose, Mike and Janet found their “Angel” to spoil, and spoil they did.
Mike enjoyed fishing, with frequent trips with his family to the Upper Big Hole and deep-sea fishing trips with his family and brother Pat off the Oregon coast, only one of which involved a sinking charter boat. He also enjoyed history, and together with Janet explored Civil War historical sites and much of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail with many trips over several summers to find and investigate significant sites along the route. With Janet and her sisters and brothers-in-law, Mike traveled often, including a 50th wedding anniversary celebration for he and Janet in Hawaii. Mike also enjoyed Montana and Notre Dame football. With daughter, Dawn, son-in-law, Mike, and Aleisha, Danielle, and Michaela, he was a fixture in the north end zone at Griz Games. He also attended many games in South Bend, with his favorite being the Irish’s underdog win over USC in 1995 in the pouring rain with his son Mickey, son-in-law Mike, and brothers Pat and John. Mike was always very active. He liked to ski, and became an avid runner in the 1970s. He took great pride in the fact that he had the opportunity to run many 5k and 10k races with each of his children and grandchildren over the years, and to ski with them in both Montana and Utah.
Mike was preceded in death by his parents Vince and May McCarthy; wife Janet McCarthy; son Patrick Daniel McCarthy; brother Pat McCarthy; sister Mary Sullivan; in-laws Fred and Ruth McEwen; brothers-in-law Danny McEwen, Buddy McEwen, Don Eich, Bill Egan, and Rex Pruitt; sisters-in-law Patsy Gasper, Rosie Carpenter, Shari McEwen, Judy McEwen, and Donna McCarthy; and nephew Michael McEwen.
Mike is survived by his daughter Dawn Gornick and her husband Mike of Missoula, and son Michael (“Mickey”) McCarthy and his wife Beth of Park City, Utah; grandchildren Aleisha, Danielle, and Michaela Gornick, and Danny and Kennedy McCarthy; and brother John McCarthy of Butte and family. Mike is also survived by sisters- and brothers-in-law Sylvia Eich of Sandpoint, Idaho, Marlene Egan of Helena, Mitch Gasper of Butte, David and Emelia McEwen of Walkerville, Myles Carpenter of Melrose, Frances and Will Wyland of Salmon, Idaho, Dianna and Tom Cannon of Butte, Gary and Rhonda McEwen of Bixby, Oklahoma, John McEwen of Granger, Washington, Rich and Margie McEwen of Helena, Donna Pruitt of Taylorville, Illinois, Carol and Steve Mullaney of Buffalo, Wyoming, Teri and Scott McBride of Buffalo, Wyoming, and Dan Sullivan of Butte; and their respective families.
Mike died peacefully on March 3, 2019, surrounded by family. At Mike’s request, no formal services will be held. A private family celebration of Mike’s life will be held at a later date. Memorials in Mike’s name may be made to the Pat McCarthy Memorial Scholarship at Montana Tech, a gift which continues to support the success of Tech students in Pat’s memory, or a charity of donor’s choice. Mike’s family would like to extend their special thanks to the wonderful staff at The Village Health and Rehabilitation center in Missoula, especially Tom, Fe, Gerard, April, Jee, Charity, Chris, and Stephen, all of whom treated Mike with the utmost respect and compassion.
“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” Plutarch.