My Uncle Mike passed away early this morning, and considering his role in creating this miniature horse obsession of mine nearly 30 years ago, this daily space deserves no greater honor than having Uncle Mike grace its walls again.
Born in 1917, Uncle Mike was the oldest (and longest surviving) of 13 children, lived in and around the West Virginia and Pennsylvania areas and was a member of World War II's 42nd Infantry Ranbow Brigade. Later in life, he lived in Tennessee and tended to horses. It was during a summer vacation trip to Tennessee in the '80s where I met and rode one of those horses, Buttons, a white miniature, that my mini pony love started:
Without Uncle Mike, PSAMP doesn't exist. And that doesn't even include the picture at the top of this post, showing a younger Uncle Mike in the '70s or early '80s on another small pony. Blood is thicker than water and whatnot.
Ever the Steelers fan and also contrarian, Mike would always talk to my dad on the phone on Steelers game weeks and give my dad the Steelers and points as if he'd purposefully try to get under our skin leading up to the games. So Dad would try to beat him to it, offering him whoever the Steelers were playing and points before Mike could get it out. He'd follow with something along the lines of, "Oh, my achin' back, I get the Titans and 3 points?" But he was a Steelers fan for sure:
Uncle Mike spent the last few years at a Veterans Home in Clarksburg, WV and passed early this morning surrounded by his families both by blood and by service. He made a lasting impression on all his peers and staff at the Veterans Home, and I'll miss the pictures like those littering this post that my mom or aunts would send to me when they paid a visit:
RIP Uncle Mike Sopak. Thanks for all you've fostered and loved. To quote his Rainbow Brigade, "Never forget!"