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Dr. Michael Martin Williamsen

July 21, 1944 ~ January 31, 2024 (age 79) 79 Years Old
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Dr. Michael Williamsen Obituary

    Dr. Michael Martin Williamsen passed away suddenly but peacefully on Wednesday, January 31, 2024. Born on July 21, 1944, Mike was the youngest of three, and a perpetual troublemaker for his older sisters Lynne and Joanna. Though living in Tacoma, Washington, at the time of Mike’s birth, his parents Herman and Marion Williamsen soon moved the family to San Diego, California, which is where Mike grew up, graduating Helix High School in 1962.

    Mike continued his education at the University of California Berkeley (Go Bears!) where he earned a chemical engineering degree, and where he met the love of his life, Raelee Wiles. She offered him junior mints in chemistry lab, and a life of sweet adventure began. After graduating Cal in March 1967, the couple married on July 15, 1967, and almost immediately began traveling, an activity that they would enjoy together for the next 56 years, eventually exploring hundreds of locations across the globe. One defining adventure was a five-month tour of Europe in 1972. Mike and Rae drove 40,000 miles all across the continent, sleeping in the back of a used station wagon and living off cheese, baguettes, and wine. When they finally returned to America, they figured if their relationship could survive that trip, it was strong enough to start a family. Their daughter Toni was born in February 1974, and their son Erik followed in May 1976.

    “Settling down” did not mean the family stopped moving. As Mike’s career evolved from chemical engineering to manufacturing management, he earned his MBA from Cal State Hayward in 1972, and was soon in demand from companies across the country that needed to improve their plant operations. In a time before remote work, this meant that the family relocated every few years as Mike began and completed project after project. Over the next 30 years, Mike worked for 23 different companies, and lived in 21 houses across 8 states, a life that while challenging, also provided unique insights and experiences throughout all regions of America.

    After the kids had moved on to college, Mike and Rae eventually settled into an 1899 farmhouse in the small and friendly Southern Illinois town of Cobden. They lovingly renovated the house and gardens, and vowed never to move again. From this home base, Mike transitioned into Safety Consulting, a job that took him to over 100 countries and over 1 million airline miles. He became an in-house safety expert for Caterpillar, and was responsible for establishing safe worksite protocols for their operations worldwide, saving countless employees from jobsite injuries, and garnering him the highest respect in his field. Mike earned his PhD in Business Administration from Columbia Southern University in 2000, and published his wealth of knowledge in Delivering Safety Excellence: Engagement Culture at Every Level, through Wiley Books in 2021.

    Throughout this full life, Mike relied on his relationship with God for guidance and comfort. He was a trusted mentor for dozens of people, often spending hours on the phone talking through problems and uncertainties. His contributions to the lives of family, friends, and strangers across the world are innumerable and will be sorely missed.

    Mike is survived by his wife Rae; children Toni (and husband Scott) Miraldi and Erik (and wife Heather) Williamsen; grandchildren Parker, Katelyn, and Thomas; sisters Lynne Kada and Joanna Schwend; as well as three nephews, a niece, and all their children and partners.

    A Celebration of Life service will be held at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, February 10, 2024 at Limestone Baptist Church, Cobden, Illinois.. Family and friends may gather from 10:00 a.m. until the service hour at 11:00 a.m. at the church. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Limestone Baptist Church or Limbs International, a charity for amputees in the developing world for which Mike served as a board member and key partner for two decades.

    Rendleman and Hileman Funeral Home in Cobden is assisting the Williamsen family with arrangements.

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Services

Visitation
Saturday
February 10, 2024

10:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Limestone Baptist Church
10460 Old Highway 51 North
Cobden, IL 62920

Celebration of Life
Saturday
February 10, 2024

11:00 AM
Limestone Baptist Church (Illinois)

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