Longtime School City of Mishawaka employee Mike Faulkner passes away

Published: Sep. 26, 2022 at 10:27 AM EDT
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MISHAWAKA, Ind. (WNDU) - The School City of Mishawaka community remembers a longtime colleague, neighbor, and friend who sadly passed away.

Former Parks Superintendent and Mishawaka High School Hall of Fame Wrestler Mike Faulkner has died.

Mike Faulkner was most recently the director of operations for School City of Mishawaka. Before that role, he was the assistant athletic director at Mishawaka High School.

Faulkner’s longtime co-workers told 16 News Now that he was dedicated, caring, and honorable; he was Mishawaka through and through.

Faulkner made it his mission to make Mishawaka a better place for his family and the entire community.

“Mishawaka is a very special community, and I would say there a lot of people who are like that too,” said Steve Sandefer, Head Wrestling Coach at Mishawaka High School. “Mike’s just been a huge supporter, he’s loved the community, he’s proud of where he’s from, and we’ve been really lucky to have a guy like him, a family like his that supports everything we do here. Just a great mentor to have. He cared about everybody.”

A 1987 graduate and talented wrestler from Mishawaka High School, he was the state runner-up as a senior in the heavyweight division. He went on to wrestle on a scholarship in college.

He attended Grand Rapids Junior College (Grand Rapids Community College) and Ferris State University.

His college wrestling record is 107 wins and 39 losses.

“He beat Bruce Baumgartner; not a lot of people know that,” said Sandefer. “Bruce Baumgartner is an Olympic champion, so Mike’s done some incredible things both on and off the mat in his lifetime, so it’s been really cool to share that have him be a part of our culture here.”

Marrying his wife Monique in 1995, they share sons, Austin and Alex.

“He was Mishawaka through and through,” said Dr. Theodore Stevens, Superintendent for School City Mishawaka. “I don’t think Mike would’ve chosen anywhere else to live out his life other than Mishawaka.”

Faulkner was instrumental in rehabbing the clock tower that stands tall at Mishawaka High School and living down the block, and he could hear his accomplishment every time the bell rang or tolled.

“I think that’s one of his prouder projects here,” said Sandefer. “For a long time, that didn’t work, and to have him come back and take that head-on, it’s been really special for us and the community to have that back on and going.”

He spent 14 years as the Parks superintendent, but he was also a longtime wrestling coach and referee, and he’d even work the chains at the high school’s football games.

“He always wanted things to be bigger and better, and he did that throughout the facility, and he did that as a coach and as a father, and as a guy who’s the director of operation,” said Dean Huppert, Director of Athletics for Mishawaka Schools. “He was also a guy you could call up and say, hey, can I get your opinion on this? And he was honest. So, honorable is Mike Faulkner to a tee.”

“You look through some of the social media posts, and the one word that jumped out at me was like wow, honorable,” said Huppert. “This is a guy who was a great father, worked in the athletic department, he was the operations manager, so anything you see from the basketball court to the football field, to the rocks, to the shrubbery, to the windows, he had a hand in that. He had the respect of the custodians. He had the respect of the athletic department, the principal, and the superintendent. He was tenacious in the meetings because he knew exactly what he wanted, and he wanted to make Mishawaka proud.”

Inquiring about Faulkner’s nickname, “Beef,” Dr. Stevens tells 16 News Now that Beef and Pork were nicknames given to Mike and another teammate from their youth football coach, but that there might be many more versions of the origins of the moniker.

Mishawaka Mayor Dave Wood shared his thoughts on Faulkner’s passing with 16 News Now:

School City of Mishawaka released the following statement on its Facebook page Monday morning:

This Friday (Sept. 30), undefeated Mishawaka plays undefeated Northwood. They will honor Mike Faulkner before the game on Friday at Steele Stadium at 7 p.m.

A dedicated public servant until the very end; Mike Faulkner was just 53 years old.