A hero’s goodbye for Michael WilkenMichael Wilken was remembered for his patience and willingness to put himself in harm’s way to help others at a memorial service Friday.
By: Scott Wente, South Washington County Bulletin
Michael Wilken was remembered for his patience and willingness to put himself in harm’s way to help others at a memorial service Friday.
Wilken, 56, of Newport, died Sunday, Oct. 25, after being struck while doing crowd control as a Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office reserve deputy at the Fright Farm haunted house in Maplewood. Wilken had crossed two lanes of traffic to give directions to a driver, and was hit while walking back to the side of the road.
Hundreds of area police officers were at the funeral service, held at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Mahtomedi.
A fellow reserve deputy that had worked many hockey games at the Charles M. Schultz-Highland Arena with Wilken, Bruce Abrahamson, said Wilken’s death has been “numbing” for the reservists.
He remembered a time when a woman had parked her car in one of the handicapped spots at the arena. She put it in neutral, but failed to turn on the parking brake. The car started rolling, pinning the woman against the handicapped parking sign, and then started to roll over her. The car was positioned in such a way that they couldn’t get the doors open far enough to get inside and stop it.
Wilken put his legs against the building, stuck his hands straight out in front of him, and pushed the car back far enough that someone else could get into the car and stop it from rolling farther.
Abrahamson told him what a heroic thing he’d done, and Wilken responded, “I hadn’t done my exercises yet today.”
Wilken was a quiet man, Abrahamson said, who much preferred listening to talking. He was patient too, especially in dealing with youth.
Abrahamson recalled a time two teenage boys were fighting at the hockey arena. Wilken brought the two boys out, holding them by the backs of their jackets, one in each hand, and asked the arena manager what he should do with them because he couldn’t get them to stop fighting. The manager said to kick them out.
Abrahamson said he remembers Wilken telling them if they didn’t have a ride, they could wait inside the doorway, and that they could come back next week if they didn’t fight again.
“He didn’t raise his voice, he didn’t get uptight,” he said. “He had the patience many people wouldn’t have in a situation like that.”
He was also a gregarious man who loved people, Abrahamson said.
“He would seldom say ‘hello,’” Abrahamson said. “He would say something like ‘what kind of trouble are you into today?’”
Pastor Michael Carlson described him as someone with a contagious humor who, “loved people and Spongebob Squarepants.”
He also spoke of his legacy of volunteering which ended with 10 years as a reserve deputy, serving at parades, community festivals and parks and on water patrol.
Following the service, a funeral procession of more than 100 law enforcement vehicles traveled to the Newport Cemetery, where Wilken was buried.
A memorial fund has been established by Wilken’s family. Donations can be made to the Mike Wilken Memorial Fund, Central Bank, 2104 Hastings Ave., Newport, MN, 55055.