WILLIAMSBURG - Mike Rosenthal, formerly of Williamsburg and a friend to many in our area, passed away Oct. 8 in Maine after an illness.
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Michael Francis Rosenthal was born Nov. 13, 1938, the son of Mina (Barnett) and Edward Marcus Rosenthal of Meriden, Conn. Mike was predeceased by his sister Sheila and his parents.
Mike's many close friends were also his family. An intrepid traveler with a wanderlust that couldn't be quenched, he followed his many varied interests to the ends of the earth.
He lived in Hawaii, explored Australia, fished all over New Zealand, Canada and Montana, made candles in Key West and worked variously as a fisherman, gardener, columnist, bookseller, dock worker and orchard man. In each of these places he welcomed new experiences and made friends.
He loved all aspects of the natural world, especially on water and in the woods. He was an avid observer of nature: of birds and other wildlife, plants, trees, the weather and vivid sunsets.
He is remembered in the Pioneer Valley for the environmental column he wrote some years ago for the Daily Hampshire Gazette. Mike was particularly fond of fishing and was a master angler who claimed he "thought like a fish." His expertise was recorded in his book "North America's Freshwater Fishing Book: A Comprehensive Guide to Catching the 22 Most Popular Game Fish in the United States and Canada."
He made a lifelong habit of patiently taming wild creatures, birds especially, and he once had a red fox eating out of his hand. His friends remember him as a man who was crazy about dogs, who always carried treats in his pockets and had four-legged friends waiting for him all over town.
A graduate of the University of Vermont, where he majored in English, Mike briefly pursued law school before earning a master's degree in political science. As a member of the first class of Peace Corps volunteers, he taught for a while in the Philippines, where he also worked on fishing boats. He later taught political science and English at the University of Arkansas, at York College in Pennsylvania and on Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.
Another of Mike's passions was looking for and collecting American Indian arrowheads and artifacts. He could tell by "the feel" of a spot whether it was worth searching, and his trained eye was always scanning the ground as he walked. He generously shared his findings with friends through the years.
Mike was a true minimalist whose entire possessions could fit into his small car. He kept his home neat as a pin with beautiful thriving plants as some of his limited décor. He liked being alone with his pursuits, especially reading, which sometimes made him seem a bit of a recluse, but he was a smiling, friendly recluse, always polite and considerate and interested in what others were up to.
Mike recalled that his first job as a little kid, back in the time of victory gardens and self-sufficiency during World War II, was to milk the family cow. His sister took care of the chickens, but Mike said he preferred the cow because he could lean against her, all warm and steamy, on cold winter mornings.
When it was recently determined that Mike had not long to live, he accepted it with philosophical gallantry. He tidied up his affairs, said goodbye to all his many, many friends and, with great resolve, departed Oct. 8 on his last journey. He is missed and remembered by his many friends.
Published in Daily Hampshire Gazette on November 12, 2012