Michael John McHale
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Family-Placed Obituary

MICHAEL JOHN MCHALE Michael John McHale, 48, of Stuart, FL, passed away on Friday November 22, 2008. He was born on April 14, 1960 in New York, NY. He had been a resident of Stuart for 11 years, coming from Boca Raton, FL. Michael was a Maritime Attorney for 23 years. He was of Episcopal faith. Michael was a board certified Admiralty and Maritime Attorney. He was a member of the Florida Bar; Southeastern Law Admiralty Law Institute; Florida Justice Assoc; American Justice Assoc; Sailfish Stridders. He was an avid marathon runner, and triathlon competitor. He was the author of several books on litigation and admiralty issues. He had recently authored an article in a maritime journal regarding off shore drilling. Survivors include: his wife of four years: Kathryn McHale of Stuart, FL; kids: Commander and Magnolia; mother: Mary Paige of Jensen Beach, FL; his cousins: the Kelly family; and the Tignor family as well as many loving friends and colleagues. A visitation will be held on Tuesday, November 25, from 6-8 PM at Aycock funeral home chapel, Stuart. A Funeral Mass will be held on Wednesday November 26, at 11 AM, at St. Mary's Episcopal Church in Stuart, FL. Contributions can be made to: Locks of Love; 234 Southern Blvd, West Palm Beach, FL 33405. www.locksoflove.org Arrangements are entrusted to Aycock Funeral Home, Stuart, FL. To express condolences and/or make donations Visit PalmBeachPost.com/obituaries

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Published in The Palm Beach Post on Nov. 25, 2008.
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49 entries
December 23, 2008

Just heard the extremely sad news. Mike and I worked together and were friends for a number of years. My prayers are with you and your family and wish you only the best.
Kathy Baker
Kathryn Baker
December 20, 2008
Kathy, This is Colonel John Fox from Jensen Beach. I only heard yesterday and still can't believe it. Michael was a true friend and great professional honest lawyer. My deepest condolenses to both you and Michaels mom. We often talked about how difficult war was, but this is worse for me. May the Commander Rest in Peace.
Colonel John Fox (Jensen Beach, Fl)
John Fox
December 17, 2008
I knew Mike from long ago, back in high school. We reconnected, professionally, last year, when he patiently showed me "the ropes" of Maritime Law, and helped me settle a case here in Seattle. He was a good friend. I will miss him.
Jim Jackson
December 13, 2008
My heartfelt condolences to Michael’s family. An unforgettable presence in all the lives he touched, he remains an irreplaceable fixture in my memories of Sewanee, and the long road from New Orleans to the Mountain was never quite the same after The Commander served as my co-pilot. Michael was an “Excentrifugal Forz” arising from a brilliant mind and rare spirit, and I do not expect to be blessed to meet his like again.
John Davidson (JD)
December 10, 2008
Kathy - some news is sad, but the death of Mike rocked me to my core. Mike and I went to college together and promised never to tell the stories thereafter! I know you already know this, but you were married to a man who was bigger than life - who lived every day that I knew him to its fullest capacity and then went a little further - Mike's loyalty to his friends had no bounds and one never knew when he was going to appear with that amazing smile and ability to make us all laugh. I am sorry that we won't be able to have that again but he will always bring a smile to my face. While I do not know the circumstances of his death, I know the Commander is straightening them out there now. Peace to you all.
Elise Bullock Higbe
December 3, 2008
Mike was a great friend. he was one of the most fun loving loving people I've ever known.

We would go to the wrestling matches together and Mike would always wear his "special" baseball cap - the one with the propeller.

Mike was truly a great "bringer of smiles" and I will cherish his memory always.
David Tanenblatt
December 3, 2008
While I did not see Mike often, when I did, he was like a breath of fresh air. He was always upbeat, happy and extremely personable. Whether it was in litigation or socially, he was a class act. He was a man of his word and an outstanding attorney. He will be missed greatly by all. Our condolences to the family and friends.
Reggie Hayden
December 2, 2008
My deepest condolences go out to Michael's family. He and I worked together on one lawsuit, and the last time I saw him at a mediation in late August, he brought me a stack of CD's that he'd burned from his favorites; both he and my husband are "Deadheads." He'd recently had a major haircut and captained a ship through the Panama Canal - he was happy as a clam about the Panama Canal but not so sure about the haircut. I am so very very sorry that you've lost such a wonderful man.
Maria Kayanan
December 1, 2008
We are sorry for your loss. Mike was a good person, friendly, and always positive. He was a knowledgeable attorney and maritime law seemed to be his passion. He will be missed by many. Our deepest sympathy to his family.
Alohalani & Dennis Scott
December 1, 2008
Mike was a great attorney to work with and a gentlemen to be up against. I had the privilege of working with him on both sides of cases and can attest to the fact that he was a great maritime lawyer, and a fine person. He will be sorely missed in maritime community.
Rod Sullivan
December 1, 2008
The Commander and I shared many great adventures during our college years. God Bless his family.
Serbo Staletovich, Sewanee '83
Terry Staletovich
December 1, 2008
God rest the Commander. His friends from Old Cannon will never forget.

Trippe Cheek
Sewanee '84
December 1, 2008
To Mike's family,

You have our deepest condolences. Mike was a good man and a good lawyer. He will be missed greatly.

Manny & Michelle Valdes
Manny Valdes
December 1, 2008
Mike was one of the great guys in our business. He was always a credit to his family and his profession. He will be missed. We send our best wishes, condolences and prayers to you.
Allan Kelley
December 1, 2008
Mike was one of the greatest of the maritime bar--a gentleman, a very capable lawyer, funny, smart, fair-minded, novel, collegial and most important, a man of his word. It was an honor to have known Mike and to have practiced with him both as an adversary, as co-counsel and as a friend. He will be sorely missed.
Michelle Otero Valdés
December 1, 2008
You will be missed, Mike. My deepest condolences to the McHale Family.
Sergio Casiano
November 30, 2008
To Mike's family,
I am so sorry for your loss. I got to experience Commander as a college student in Tennessee as a fellow South Floridian. We drove together with 4-5 people a few times from Sewanee to Miami area and back in 1979 and 1980 (in those days, a 16-hour ride and the driver, not Commander, only stopped once). They were some of the most memorable trips of my life. There was never a boring moment with Commander. He kept us smiling and laughing. He was a brilliant guy with more passion for life than many of us will ever have. I remember marveling because he even wrote poetry for the Sewanne Purple (student led newspaper) in the 80s. What I remember most would be his intelligence, sense of humor and honesty. I was blessed to know Mike. He was one of the most memorable characters Sewanee has even known. I am praying for each of you. Mike's turf is my home area also ... my mother is in Hobe Sound now. I hope to meet you one day, Kathy. God bless you.
Carol Hayes
November 30, 2008
People still talk and laugh warmly about Mike 25 years after his graduation from college.

My prayers to his family, Matt Costello, Sewanee '84
Matthew Costello
November 29, 2008
To the McHale family,
My sincerest condolences at this time of loss.
Please understand the "ripple effect" Michael's effort to reach out to childhood friends has had. I attended Forest Brook elementary school with Mike. From 1966-72 was a magical time to be a boy in that neighborhood. We played thousands of games of basketball, baseball, wiffleball, stickball, football, handball and more. I am sure that ,while we didn't think about it at the time, our comraderie then allowed us all as to become good men. It was heartwarming to read the tributes to Mike's grace, compassion, and humor. I have lived a lifetime with a baseball cap attached to my head. Please know the love we send and the fine friend Michael was.I too will lift a toast.
Ron Schuck
November 29, 2008
Mike was one of the great guys of the maritime bar--a gentleman lawyer, capable, fairminded, a man of his word, with a great sense of humor. It was an honor to have known Mike and to have practiced with him both as an adversary and as a friend. May the wind be always at your back. You will be missed.
Jonathan Skipp
November 27, 2008
Please accept my deepest regrets. He was a good guy.
Larry Valle
November 27, 2008
On this Thanksgiving Day, I have much to be thankful for and among these things is having known Michael J. McHale. He was a worthy adversary of the highest ethical and professional standards. When my colleages asked about Michael, what kind of lawyer and person could they expect to be dealing with, I always told them: You can trust him, you will respect him and he will make you proud of what you do for a living. I am thankful for having known Michale McHale. May God's Eternal Light shine upon him and his family.
Michael Moore
November 27, 2008
Mike's mom and my mom were born in Ballina, County Mayo, Ireland. He is a son of Ireland. Empathy is a strong suit for the Irish and Mike wore it on his sleave. This served him well as a true Irish lawyer. In the end, rosaries were said and the bag piper played as it should be. The funeral was grand. In closing, I enjoyed and valued his company and counsel. All who knew him are better persons for it and Kathy you are blessed. God love you.
Kevin Griffin
November 27, 2008
Mike, I wish you well wherever you are sailing now. You touched many people as you lived your life with grace, humor, compassion and your own kind of style. Like Commander and Maggie, we will keep looking for you in your shorts and baseball cap. Thanks for all the good things you did in big and little ways.
John Thomas
November 27, 2008
Well, I am not real sure how these books work, or the rules rather...but this is my second entry (sorry), can't sleep and kept reading entries and thinking about McHale. Wow, what a wonderful impact McHale had on so many lives! I smiled, I frowned, I laughed and I cried... certainly sounds as if we all knew the same kind soul, even if in differing ways. [I couldn't cry at your service Mike, sorry, but how the heck can anyone who knew you keep from smiling as they conjure up your image?] I'll miss you McHale, from playing a round of golf, fishing, or just talking Bama football and life!

-Though ultimately a friend, (as a claimant) I owe Mike quite a bit of all I enjoy today...he was my lawyer/friend/psychologist/marriage counselor and buddy during the most difficult 5 yrs. of my life. I still recall my Dad's words(a man not easily impressed with lawyers), after flying down from N.J. to meet ("approve") my new attorney all those yrs. ago, after a great waterfront dinner, the two of us went our way, while nervously wondering as Dad drove home, the silence ended with... "I like him.. he knows his stuff, and isn't afraid to be himself, most put on a front for me... not him" (said the decorated Federal Attorney and celebrated Seton Hall Law Professor...)

-There IS only one McHale, and you will be sorely missed my friend!!
Capt. Terry McMahon
November 26, 2008
Dear Kathy and family: It is always hard to read that one's incredible life has been cut short--especially when it is someone you know from your college days. So sorry to hear about Mike's death. God bless you and keep you in your time of grief. Susan Maitland, Nashville, TN
Susan Maitland
November 26, 2008
We met Mike 4 years ago, we needed help and after seeing numerous other attorneys who said they couldn't do anything for us Mike was the first ray of sun. Our first meeting with him was a bit different, we walked into the office and there stood this guy with a baseball cap, shorts and barefeet. Then he introduced himself, told us to take a seat we looked around and thought where. He then removed his filing system from the chairs and he got down to business. Over the last 4 years Mike has guided us, given us hope and has been the only one that could calm down Joe when he got so fustrated with the whole system. Mike would just call and see how he was doing and just talk to him. I know Joe feels more then just a client he feels like Mike is a friend. Thanks for everything Mike and as we continue this journey that you helped us on, we will continue to ask ourselves what would of Mike said? Kathy our thoughts and prayers are with you. Mike would of loved the service today, it did bring smiles to our faces.
Joe & Roxann Lapp
November 26, 2008
Dear Kathy,
Words cannot express our sympathy to you and your family; it was such a shock to everyone. We enjoyed meeting Michael over a few family functions, he was the most interesting man to visit with, and know your memories will be held dear to you. Prayers with you.
Michael & Sue Caplia
November 26, 2008
The Commander and I were fraternity brothers and went to law school together. God's peace to him and his family. He will be missed.
Herb Sparks
November 26, 2008
I knew Mike professionally for a short time (a little over a year) and had only met him in person twice. But during that short acquaintance I had come to regard him as one of the most professional and likeable attorneys (and persons) I have ever known. My thoughts go out to those who had the true privilege of knowing him much better -- his family and close friends.
Richard Buckingham
November 26, 2008
To his wife Kathy, his children, his Mother Mary, and to all who survive Michael: My profound sympathy and prayers that God will give you solace and comfort in this, your hour of grief. Flo Bernstein
Flo Campbell Bernstein
November 25, 2008
Mike and I went from colleagues to coworkers in December, 2001. Mike called to ask how my family was holding up during Dad’s battle with a brain tumor. When I told him I was picking out a bridge to live under since I had barely worked during the year of my father’s illness, Mike said he had more work than he could handle and invited me to roll up my sleeves and get busy.

For the next seven years we enjoyed an unconventional working relationship and a delightful friendship, even though we rarely saw each other. Mike was a soft landing for not only me, but for many of our colleagues. Over the years, I noted that he frequently had “more work than he could handle” when one of our admiralty brothers needed work sent his way. On many occasions, much to my annoyance, Mike would zealously accept a case, usually complicated, and With No Retainer. He just hated asking a client for money… I knew he’d rather work for free than lose a good fishing buddy, and since I didn’t fish, I didn’t really mind making The Ask, but still… .

Kathy- your marriage to Michael polished up everyone’s favorite diamond in the rough… but there is only so much a McHale can be buffed. Instead, you wisely let your poise and grace be the stage from which Mike could continue to charm his way into the hearts of everyone he met. With you, he was happy and complete.

Mary- In the brief time we have spent together the last few days, I have seen in you so many of the things I loved about Mike. Thank you for sharing with us your only child, an extraordinary son, even though our time with him was much too short.

With love and sympathy to you both.
Theresa Bennett
November 25, 2008
Dear Kathy, Pam & Milton,
I am so very sorry for your loss!
You are in my thoughts & prayers!
Diane Scott
Diane Scott
November 25, 2008
I met Mike through mutual friends up here in New York, and we kept in contact over the years. I used him as my local counsel on an interesting case in federal court, and he helped shed the stress with his great stories and a constant stream of Grateful Dead tunes on the car stereo. I will miss him.
Paul Hofmann
November 25, 2008
To Kathy and Michael's Mom,
My deepest sympathy for your profound loss! As you know, Michael and I were a childhood friends here in Hauppauge, NY and shared many great times and experiences right through our high school graduations -- Michael at St. Anthony's and me at Hauppauge HS, we even faced off against each other on our respective HS Ice Hockey teams. Sadly Michael and I lost touch right after the summer of 1978. In April of this year to my surprise, and pleasure, I received a call from Michael and in May after 30-years since we had last seen, or spoken, to each other we got to share a few hours together at Michael and Kathy's lovely home in Florida. For that visit I’m so grateful! Many of Michael's old neighborhood pals send their condolences as well. God bless you Michael -- I'll raise a toast to you on Thanksgiving!
Jim Wolsiefer
November 25, 2008
I am Pam Tignor's pastor and wish to express my sympathy and prayers for her and the family in this time of sorrow.
Lucky Arnold
November 25, 2008
To the McHale Family:
Having met Michael 15 years ago as opposing counsel, Michael earned my respect very early on. I cannot express enough my sympathy for your loss; Michael was a phenomenal human being and advocate. Over the years Michael and I have referred matters to each other and I feel honored that he allowed me to handle his personal patent & trademark matters. I have never met a more sincere or proficient attorney handling Admiralty matters and have never once waivered on giving all my Admiralty referrals to Michael. As the name of our firm is also McHale, we have had our mails mixed up for so many years we joked whether we should merge the firms to save a postal worker salary. In all sincerity, the loss of Michael has touched this whole firm and we truly send you our heatfelt sympathy and condolences. Michael was a very good man!
Michael Slavin
November 25, 2008
I had only met Mike a few weeks ago at Greg & Bettina Weiss's home for a Gator's game. We hit it off immediately because we had very similar interests and were close in age. I saw him a couple of times after that out riding my bicycle. He had a very warm and friendly way about him that you don't find easily. I had made up my mind that I would value him as a friend and was working towards that with each meeting and some e-mails and then this tragedy. I am so sorry I did not get to know him better because I know I missed out on having a great man as a friend. My deepest sympathy to his entire family and all his friends. Drew Ciraldo
Drew Ciraldo
November 25, 2008
i can't even begin to fathom the world without the commander. even though it's been years since i've seen him in the flesh, even now i can hear his voice - his humor and voice were salty way before he even had an idea he'd be a maritime attorney - communicating his insanely funny dialogue. he made sewanee, already a special place, even more special. right now he's playing lacrosse in the heavens, trying to dodge angels to score on God. and God is laughing too hard at the commander's jokes to know the ball is going by His head. i missed out on seeing michael earlier in the year when my business trip to juno beach hit at the same time he had business on the west coast of florida, and so i said "catch you next time". to all of you out there, there isn't always a next time, so never let an opportunity to see ANYONE go by so lightly. to kathy, i cry for your loss, and to magnolia and commander, always remember your dad as the incredible person he was on earth and is now in heaven. peace.
penney file
November 25, 2008
Kathy, so sorry for your loss. Words just can't say how I and so many others feel for you and our loss of Michael. - Jerry Adato
Jerry Adato
November 25, 2008
McHale Family & Friends:

I'm very sorry to hear of your loss. I just met Michael for the first time a few weeks ago and was looking forward to referring him Admiralty & Maritime cases. Your family is in my thoughts and prayers.
Harry Keats
November 25, 2008
Dear Kathy -
Our love and prayers are with you as you face this difficult time. May you find comfort through your faith, your family, and your friends. Michael will live on in your memories. He was a friend to everyone he met. God bless you. With love,
Beth and Buddy Pearce
November 25, 2008
Mike was a great family friend and best of all fishing buddy. He was always giving and loved talking about fishing. My dad and him were great friends they played golf together and fished together. Mike even helped my dad get the boat that we have today whenever I had a question about boats or the laws on the water I would call mike and he would stop whatever he was doing to explain it to me he was a extremely nice guy and he will be missed by my family and I.
matthew loew
November 25, 2008
Sad, sad news to hear. Mike was an old friend and colleague of mine here in Mobile. We had some fun times together back in those days. Took a fishing trip to Destin once with him and caught a nice barracuda. He was a good guy and a very capable lawyer. My sincere condolences to his family.
Glenn Davidson
November 25, 2008
Alwyays smiling! A Great Neighbor! Just days ago Mike went out of his way to congratulate me on my recent marathon. Only until Saturday did Kathy tell me that they both tracked my run via computer the whole time and how proud they were of me! Always thinking of others. He will be missed by so many. Kathy you are in my prayers and thoughts.
Alicia Collins
November 25, 2008
To my Loving Husband, my best friend and a friend to many...

Anchored in the harbor
Upon the sea of peace
Serenity surrounds me
With each wave that is released
Calm and peaceful waters
Warm embracing winds
Billows blowing in life's storm
Have ceased from coming in
The Light of Life has guided me
Making the way sure
Anchored in this harbor
To rest forevermore.

His last words to me, as always, were good night, I love you.
Kathy McHale
November 25, 2008
The news of Mike's death was a shock to me. We haven't talked in a couple of years, but I have great memories. I met Mike in Great Harbour Cay many years ago. He was there celebrating a big win, I was there as crew on another yacht. There was a full moon eclipse that weekend and no one in Mike's group was sober enough to go out. He joined us instead and we caught the biggest kingfish either of us had ever caught. Little did I know I would need his legal services years later. He was always calming, made house calls and cared deeply about the people he represented. He was one of a kind.
Wally Doughty
November 25, 2008
You will be missed my friend.
Troy McDonald
November 24, 2008
A staunch advocate for injured mariners like myself, Mike became much more. A friend, a fishing buddy, and a kind hearted salt to talk to at difficult times for advice. Because of Mike, his influence and advice, I now hold my 3rd issue USCG Ticket with many endorsements. Though it's more elaborate now, my first issue (6 pak) came between and after surgeries and long battles with Ins. carriers...Mike kept me sane and busy by pointing me in that direction. A good man, a great friend, nobody ever believed Mike was my attorney when we met or ran into them...they always assumed him a fishing buddy or old pal. I see now, that was one of the highest compliments possible in this day and age...can you imagine..? People mistaking your attorney for your fishing buddy, or old H.S. pal..? That was Mike, legal work was the least of what he meant to me, especially during trying times. I will pray for you that were so very close to Mike..may God Bless You.
Terry & Alison McMahon
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