MICHAEL ALAN WOOTTON
July 5, 1971 — July 5, 2017
We don’t know if Mike Wootton sensed that his life would be cut short, but we do know he lived life full-throttle. Mike was born on July 5th, 1971, in Amarillo, Texas to Dwayne and Helen Wootton and big brother, Gilbert. Mike died suddenly on his birthday forty-six years later at his home in Spokane Valley.
His parents divorced early in his life, and he moved with his mom and brother to Idaho. When his father married Connie, the three adults embarked on a cross-country co-parenting venture. They always joked that it took three to raise such a fireball!
From his earliest years when Mike had a passion about something (and he had many) he wanted to know everything about it. The flip side was, if he didn’t like something, he didn’t care to learn anything about it — which made his early school years a challenge for teachers and parents.
When Mike was seven, his passion was World War I flying aces, like the Red Baron. He knew each country’s top ace, how many enemy planes each had shot down, what kind of engine powered their planes, how their guns worked, and about their personal lives.
When he was nine, he discovered his lifelong passion for extreme sports. Because of a hand injury, he learned to downhill ski without poles. And who needs poles when you tear straight down the steepest hills without turning? (Gil was finally able to teach him to use his poles and learn to turn.)
As an older teen, he learned to SCUBA dive, eventually becoming a dive master, even enjoying exploring underwater caves in the deep cold waters of Idaho rivers. When his mother complained that he should at least let her know when he was safely out of the river, he replied “Mom, I am an expert diver. My partner is an expert diver. If either of us gets in so much trouble that the other one can’t get him out, we’re both dead anyway. So why do you worry?”
Mike was also a very creative person. In junior high he learned to play the classical guitar and showed real promise in that art, but his interest turned to electric rock guitar. With two of his lifelong friends, Andy Chan and Chris Dahlin, he formed a rock band, Mourning Sunn, and played at local venues.
He graduated from Moscow (Idaho) High in 1989 and went directly into the Navy, planning to become a Navy diver. The Navy, however, had other plans, and sent him to hospital corps school to become a medic. When the first Gulf War broke out, Mike was sent to an Army field hospital in Bahrain. In one phone call home, he assured his mother that he was perfectly safe (even though she could hear the SCUD missiles exploding in the background) because “They can’t hit the broadside of a barn.”
After the war, he was stationed at Bremerton, Washington. In 1992, he married a childhood friend from Texas, Jennifer Vinyard. After his discharge, the couple moved to Lewiston, Idaho, where their beautiful daughters were born — Kaitlyn, now eighteen, and Meagan, now sixteen.
Mike worked several years as a welder, then returned to school, getting his accounting degree at Lewis and Clark State College. After graduate work at the University of Idaho, he sat for the CPA exam, and went to work for Potlatch Industries as an auditor. He and Jennifer divorced, and when Potlatch moved its corporate offices to Spokane, he moved to Spokane Valley.
In Spokane, he developed a wide circle of wonderful friends, including his beloved partner of ten years, Kristine Nelson. They have a daughter, Adeline, now nine years old, and he also took into his heart Kristine’s older daughters, Lily and Claire, now eighteen.
Mike was a master craftsman in wood. He made amazing furniture for all his daughters and canoes that were truly works of art. He spent many hours on the waterways of the Northwest, canoeing, whitewater kayaking, and rafting. We have been hearing great stories from those trips.
In fact, his family has been hearing from people from all parts of his life, and it is a great comfort to us to know how many lives he touched and how much he was loved. You were truly a blessing to him.
Mike deeply loved his daughters and his primary concern in life was to provide for them. The family respectfully requests that, in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to Mike’s memorial fund.*
Several impromptu memorial gatherings have already taken place, but the funeral will be July 16th at 3pm at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 111 S. Jefferson, in Moscow Idaho.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Short’s Funeral Chapel, Moscow, and online condolences may be sent to www.shortsfuneralchapel.net.