Beloved Band Teacher/Musician Is Mourned After Sudden Passing
Did you ever notice, how you can be going about your "everyday business", and then you hear shocking news, the kind of news that just "kicks you in the gut"? Recently, many live music fans around the Cedar Valley had one of those days, when we heard the news about the passing of Mike "Checker" Michalicek.
On Tuesday, October 19th, Michalicek's wife, Julie posted on her Facebook page, "Checker collapsed at home and was airlifted to Iowa City to secure an ICU bed. Things are not looking promising for recovery." Michalicek, 67, died at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, on Friday, October 22, 2021.
My oldest daughter was a student of Michalicek at Jewett Elementary in Evansdale several years ago. When she learned of the sad news, her immediate response was "oh no, he was one of the 'good' ones". I think we all know what she meant. Your immediate thoughts go to...Why Mike? Way too soon! Everybody loved Checker!
"Be the Person You Want to Be"
Michalicek could be seen wearing his signature "Be the Person You Want to Be" t-shirt quite often. Those words of inspiration came to fruition for hundreds of hundreds of aspiring young musicians. One such student was Kendra Christensen Hayes. Michalicek was her band teacher at Central Intermediate in Waterloo. Hayes said, "he was the best band teacher, we had so much fun!" I would venture to say Hayes' post on Facebook pretty much sums it up for the countless people (young & old) that "Checker' influenced:
"There are so many broken hearts out here, and they all belong to you. Thank you for believing in me, inspiring me, making me feel special, over and over again. You did that to so many. Countless kids and adults alike, spanning generations. Your love for music was contagious and you leave behind an incredible legacy." - Kendra Christensen Hayes
Michalicek loved to be involved in the community helping out with many worthwhile projects like the Stone Soul Picnic and many more. In a post on the "Checker & The Bluetones" Facebook page at the end of March, Michalicek made this announcement:
"Many of you already know this but after 25+ years of playing The Bluetones are hanging it up. You all have been great, supportive fans and all of us appreciated you. As we step away great memories will keep us together. - Checker"
Yes, indeed, all the great memories will keep us together, R.I.P. to one of the "good ones", Mike Edward "Checker" Michalicek.
Funeral arrangements for Michalicek have been set
The WCF Courier's obit page states: there will be a Memorial service at 11:00 AM Saturday, November 6th at St. John Lutheran Church in Cedar Falls. Visitation will be 4:00 – 7:00 PM Friday, November 5th, at Richardson Funeral Service, Cedar Falls. Inurnment will be at Alcock Cemetery, Fredricka, IA. Online condolences may be left at Richardsonfuneralservice.com.
And as a surprise to no one, memorials for Checker will go to Northeast Iowa Food Bank Children's Programs.
Scroll down for more photos, and fitting tributes to Checker.
Mike "Checker' Michalicek - Photos
Check out this video of Checker and his band, in rare form, playing at the Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center in 2019.