Michaela “Mickey” Lawson

Michaela Yilk, known by all as Mickey, was born April 2nd 1946 in Hastings, Nebraska. The third of four daughters, Mickey was outgoing from the start. After graduating from St. Cecilia High School in 1964, she began attending Loretto Heights College in Denver, Colorado. There she met her future husband, Jim Lawson (who was a cadet down Interstate Highway 25 at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs), on a blind date.

They married on April 1st, 1967 and frequently joked about getting married on April Fool’s Day. They had two daughters Debbie & Terry while stationed at Reese Air Force Base in Lubbock, Texas. After Jim’s honorable discharge from the military, they moved to the Twin Cities where Jim obtained his Masters in Health Administration from the University of MN. They ultimately settled in Wadena, MN where their son Michael was born.

After Jim’s unexpected death in 1995, Mickey began working as a Title 1 teaching assistant in the WDC elementary school where she helped kids with their math and reading. She shone in this work and loved making connections with her students. She would simultaneously brandish her radiant smile and megaphone during recess and delighted in keeping the kids in line even during frigid winter afternoons. Mickey enjoyed crossword puzzles, talking politics, watching American Idol, and being the only person on Earth who cheered for both the Vikings and the Packers.

Above all, Mickey cherished her family. Her children all settled in the Twin Cities area and married wonderful partners (Rich Leyh, Bryan Klotz, and Katie Willihnganz) who Mickey adored and loved like her own children. Mickey would make frequent weekend trips to visit her family, particularly her grandchildren: Ellie, Heather, James, Georgia, Caden, Asher, and Savannah. She was typically found cuddling, playing, putting on skits or reading to them. She would beam with pride while talking about their adventures and accomplishments both big and small.

For the last few years of her life Mickey fought a battle against vascular dementia. When she was no longer able to drive, she moved to Stillwater to live with her daughter, Debbie. The only saving grace of her loss of independence and memory was being surrounded by family over her final years. During the last year of her life, her dementia steadily robbed her of her spark and personality.

She enrolled in hospice through Our Lady of Peace in May and died August 15th, 2021 at the age of 75. She leaves a legacy of love, passion, and a family that considers themselves blessed to have had such a wonderfully tenacious matriarch.

Funeral services will be held on Labor Day, Monday September 6th at 11AM at St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Wadena, where Mickey was a long-time parishioner.

A celebration of life will be held Sunday November 14th from 10AM-2PM at 7 Vines Winery in Dellwood, MN.

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