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Michael Cusack

1940 - 2019
Michael Cusack Obituary
Michael Cusack
PEORIA - Michael Leary Cusack, a native of Peoria, died at his home in Alaska on Friday, July 5, 2019, surrounded by his family.
He was born on Sept. 3, 1940, in Peoria, Illinois, to Dr. Patrick and Vera (Leary) Cusack. He was one of eleven children. Mike attended St. Bernard's grade school and graduated from Spalding High School in 1958, where he played football and baseball. He was an undergraduate at Marquette University and subsequently graduated from the University of Illinois College of Medicine in 1965. He completed a residency in dermatology in Memphis, Tennessee, and moved to Anchorage, Alaska, where he practiced dermatology until 2018.
He met his wife, Bonnie Lou Hering, while a medical student. They married in 1965 and she preceded him in death in 1992. Mike had seven children whom he loved deeply, Kelly Millen, Michael Jr., Kimberly (Pat) Tolan, Jenny (Tony) Hedley, Casey, Brooke and Katelyn. He also leaves behind nine grandchildren.
He is survived by two sisters, Dolores (Edward) Murphy and Susanne (Joseph) Helms; and six brothers, James (Maureen) Cusack, Thomas (Sara Rusch) Cusack, Jack (Kathleen) Cusack, Robert (Lula) Cusack, William (Kim) Cusack and Daniel Cusack. Two brothers, Patrick Cusack Jr. and Gerald, preceded him in death.
Mike was a generous man who was the first to step in when anyone needed help. He had a love of the outdoors, hunting and fishing. In 1973, he shot a record moose with a bow and arrow that won the infrequently given Ishi award of the Pope and Young Club. This moose is still prominently displayed in the Anchorage International Airport His love of the outdoors led to his establishment of the world-renowned fishing lodge, Mike Cusack's King Salmon Lodge. He would practice medicine from Monday to Thursday and fly himself to the lodge for the weekend, where he entertained his guests. The lodge became popular with celebrities, including Bob Hope, Ted Williams, John Riggins (a close life-long friend), Jack Nicholas, Kevin Costner, Olivia Newton-John, General Schwarzkopf, Tom Weiskopf and others.
Mike was also passionate about hockey. He and his wife, Bonnie, started the first traveling competitive hockey association in Alaska in 1982, the Alaska Allstars Hockey Association. This organization is still flourishing and enables Alaskan youth hockey players (including girls) to compete with lower 48 teams. Alumni of the program include NHL players, Scott Gomez, Matthew Cale, Scott Parker, Brandon Dubinsky, Ty Conklin, Joey Crabb, Nate Thompson and Tim Wallace. Mike was actively involved in the organization through 2016.
Mike lived life to the fullest; he rode life about as hard as anyone you could imagine. He was one-of-a-kind. This past year was a true gift of time for the Cusack family as he struggled with esophageal cancer. His family and friends are most thankful to have had the opportunity to share stories and memories and goodbyes and tears. Mike left a mark on many, many people. He will be greatly missed.
A celebration of Mike's life, "Christmas in Heaven," was held on Wednesday, July 31, 2019, in Anchorage Alaska.
Published in Peoria Journal Star from Aug. 23 to Aug. 25, 2019
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