Obituary of Mike Laughlin
Mike Laughlin entered his earthly life on February 26, 1954. Officially known as James Michael, he was the first born son of James and Helen (Elliott) Laughlin. Mike was ushered into his heavenly home on October 9, 2023 after drowning in a tragic kayak accident while kayaking with his wife on the Boise River.
Mike received his elementary education at Will Rogers and was a ’72 graduate of Sooner High School in Bartlesville, OK. It’s hard to believe Mike was shy and insecure in his high school years! While in college at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, OK, Mike encountered a new relationship with God that was powerful and forever changed the direction of his life. He felt led to share the Good News of the Gospel and started his 12 year association with Agape Force, a Christian ministry. He was a leader in the ministry, known for his boldness and passion in how he authentically shared the Gospel with people in all walks of life.
In his 30’s, Mike started his own landscape/lawn care business. He always had a “green thumb” and enjoyed cutting lawns, pruning trees and shaping bushes to help others develop their property. The lawn care business took a toll on his back, eventually necessitating change. In his 40’s, he transitioned into selling residential real estate for 12 years. When the real estate market fell, he transitioned to the sale of recreational equipment at the REI flagship store in Seattle, WA. Mike loved helping customers find the right camping equipment that fit their needs. In his 60’s, he and Belva moved to Boise, ID after her retirement. Mike continued to do sales work in the camping department at Cabela’s, another store that suited him well. Sales was a gift Mike brought to every job.
Mike’s family thinks he married later in life because he waited for the best. After a year of courtship, Mike and Belva were married on June 18, 1994. Mike helped transform Belva’s Seattle home into a colorful garden, including a large water feature with sound effects that he built. They shared 29 years of marriage together with its ups and downs. Early in their marriage, Belva was challenged with a voice disorder which frequently made speaking difficult. Mike was often her voice and encouragement that kept her socially connected. They stayed true to their lifetime commitment, “in sickness and in health till death do us part.” They lived in Seattle, WA the first 19 years of marriage. Besides working and keeping up an older home, they enjoyed recreation. Kayaking, biking, X-C skiing, snowshoeing, camping and hiking were all activities they enjoyed together in the Pacific NW. Eagle, ID has been their home for the past 10 years. Six years ago they readily traded tent camping for the convenience of trailer camping and have explored much of the western U.S.
Mike loved to fish! He grew up fishing with his father and brother, usually with friendly competition of who caught the biggest fish! He has shared many fishing trips with many people and the fishing tales just kept growing.
Mike was one of a kind! He had a magical way of connecting with children because of his child-like spirit. He was “Uncle Mike” to 12 nieces and nephews and gained 4 more when he married Belva. Mike had charisma and a zeal for life, he was fun-loving and witty, a deep thinker and good problem solver; a communicator who was able to articulate complex thoughts. Mike was known as a consummate storyteller. His embellishments came to be expected and loved! He loved the Great Outdoors and thought of himself as a “mountain man.” Mike enjoyed historical fiction, whether it be Oregon Trail stories or the Mountain Men who paved the way to the West. While he thrived on adventure, he was also cautious, a quick thinker, prudent and protective. He lived life to the fullest, doing what he loved to the very end.
Mike always wanted a dog and that dream came true in Boise. Their home was ideal with a fenced backyard and a nearby creek! Cody is an energetic black lab who looked up to “papa” and was a good match for Mike’s drive. They loved to roam open fields and streams. Now Cody represents all of us wondering, “Where’s Mike?”
Mike's passion for God, his Lord and Savior, lead him to study the Bible, not out of duty, but out of love for God. Within the last year he wrote, “There is nothing like experiencing God’s love and knowing deep in my heart that I will be in His presence forever. I am so looking forward to being in heaven, where I can look on His beautiful face, to forever thank Him and love Him the way He has loved me.” Mike died a tragic death, but he was ushered into Heaven by the loving and purposeful hands of God who said, “Welcome Home Mike!”
Grateful to have shared his life are his loving wife, Belva of Eagle, ID; his mother, Helen Laughlin of Bartlesville, OK; brother, Jeff (Carol) Laughlin of Kansas City, KS; sister, Kelly (Dan) Lowen of Ashburn, VA; mother-in-law, Alma Wollman of Freeman, SD; sister-in-law, Cheri (John) Hansen of Gregory, SD; brother-in-law, Merle (Cecile) Wollman of Sioux Falls, SD; 16 nieces and nephews with many extended family members and friends. Preceding him in death were his father, Jim Laughlin and Reuben Wollman, father-in-law.
Belva requests that any monetary gifts be donated to: Samaritan’s Purse, or Eagle Nazarene Community Garden.
If you would like to watch the service by live stream please use this link. https://eaglenaz.com/MikeLaughlin
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