Mike Elinski would have celebrated his 64th birthday Dec. 29, 2012.
His fastidious Capricorn nature, strong constitution and Pennsylvania Polish work ethic would not have him retiring any time soon.
A graduate of Cortez High School in 1966, Mike bought land with his young family in East Verde Park Estates in 1977 and finally built the A-frame “8 Ski Lodge” starting in 1986, completing just in time for the move to Oregon in 1991 to run an oceanfront motel for 10 years with said family. Since he installed the heating system last, the family was left with fond memories of communing around the small wood-burning stove on cold winter school mornings, not to mention the first summer and fall months with the 10-foot trailer and cold outdoor showers.
Mr. Elinski worked at the Payson Unified School District in the maintenance department and as a substitute bus driver while completing his heating/AC certification. Mike’s Comfort Systems satisfied many customers until his passing in Glendale on Nov. 4, 2012, at which point his sons completed his last jobs.
He is survived by those who remember his warm, soft chuckle. His marriages to Lisa Mitchell, Dee Esser and Kathy Lavoy gave him many wonderful children: Michael Bruce, lately of Young; Amy Johnson of Sedona; Crystal of Portland, Ore.; Rick of Washington, D.C.; Fred, deceased; Tim of Cottonwood; and Sam and Kaitlin of Phoenix. Elinski cousins abound in Phoenix, California and Pennsylvania. His sisters, Sandra and Sharon, and older brothers, Rick and Ken, lived near him in Phoenix.
With his brothers he revisited his early pursuits in racecar driving and antique car remodeling. His ’65 Chevelle was featured on the KOOL 94.5FM 3rd Annual Car Show poster. He regularly partook in Central Avenue drag racing — the city-sanctioned kind, as well.
Mike Elinski taught his children practical perseverance and integrity, interest in the world and obligation to community, a deep appreciation of classic rock and well-planned road trips. He spoke his mind, often caged in his brilliantly killer sense of humor, which ranged from slapstick silly (the Unknown Polack) to deadpan bafflement (“There’s a snowstorm coming up from Africa”) to dark cerebral irony, sarcasm and cynicism (“the taboo link between Jan Brewer and Gabby Giffords is guns”). He appreciated Prairie Home Companion as much as Richard Pryor. He placed third after his friends at Payson schools, Forrest Waggoner and Hans Schoenborn, for corny puns and clichés (sorry, guys). He drew laughs from colleagues, administration, teachers and students alike. This skill proved to be an excellent tool in child behavior management as a role model at the schools and as a father, stopping bullying and building confidence. He is dearly missed.