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Beloved son of Ernest A. Jr. and Marilynn (nee Marchione) Mastroianni. Dear brother of Dr. Melissa Mastroianni (Jonathan Backhaus). Loving grandson of Dr. Ernest A. Mastroianni, Sr. and Alice Marchione. Beloved uncle of Charlotte and Emma Backhaus. Further survived by many aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. Mike was preceded in death by his cherished cat, Lemmy.
A memorial service in Milwaukee with an option to attend remotely is being planned. Instead of flowers, donations are requested; the family is planning a charitable tribute/legacy in his name, to causes that would be meaningful to him.
Here are some things Mike's family would like to tell you about him:
When he was 6, he asked if we could visit "the mountain that looks like the presidents." Mount Rushmore? Sure Mike! So we planned a trip around his wish, adding the Badlands, Grand Tetons and Yellowstone, and packed our car with camping gear. He loved climbing the rocky trails and scaring us while peering over steep cliffs. He relished camp food. That summer of ’95 hooked him on outdoor adventure.
More journeys followed. With Melissa, the older sister he adored, we biked in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Hiked the Grand Canyon and Yosemite National Park. Took in Times Square and Disney World. Toured Europe, where he marveled at the Swiss Alps. At the Philmont Boy Scout Ranch in New Mexico, he hiked 12,441-foot Baldy Mountain.
His well-known sense of humor may have been stoked by the numerous Three Stooges tapes we rented. He was only 4 at the time, but the slapstick comedies left him hysterical. He memorized entire episodes. He was generous too. In second grade, he found our checkbook and wrote a very legible check for one million dollars to Richards Elementary School. He thought he’d win the fundraising award and get to be on TV. The school tipped us off to his largesse.
He attended St. Monica Catholic School, then the all-boys Marquette University High School where he bonded with new friends and met girls attending the all-female Divine Savior Holy Angels. This tight-knit group stayed together through their senior year, often coming to our home to hang out and empty our pantry. He excelled in Spanish and traveled to Mexico for a language immersion course.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He spent a semester of language immersion at Nanzan University in Nagoya, Japan. When we visited him during a mid-semester break, we traveled to Kyoto and Tokyo. We marveled at his ability to speak the language and navigate the culture. He also became a Karaoke fan.
After graduation, he taught at Milwaukee Public Schools, then worked as a line cook at a brewpub, Company Brewing, where he honed his culinary skills. He volunteered at the Riverwest Co-op. He also worked at the Milwaukee Jewish Community Center’s daycare center and taught kindergarten at Bruce Guadalupe Community School. Most recently and until his death, he was the assistant director of the Nurturing Nook child care center in Fox Point _ a place where he had been in daycare as an infant and young boy. He touched the lives of countless families. He LOVED children and had a gift for working with them.
Mike also loved hiking, camping and traveling with his many friends. He was particularly fond of the Ice Age trail in the Kettle Moraine State Forest. He traveled to Thailand for a friend’s wedding. He was an accomplished snowboarder.
The Riverwest neighborhood was his home and cultural base. He biked the Riverwest24 cycling event for many years, often with his father. He loved watching the Green Bay Packers at Klinger’s East, and turned his mother into a football fan. He loved music shows, movies and cooking with friends, especially Grill Night.
Mike chose to be an organ donor. His good heart beats on, his lungs still breath. In life Mike brought joy, in death he gave life.
We are comforted by the outpouring of love from his friends and family and we’re so happy to hear of the joy he brought to all he knew.