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Michael John (Mike) Malvey Sr.


1924 - 2018 Obituary Condolences
Michael John (Mike) Malvey Sr. Obituary
Michael John Malvey Sr. (Mike)

Reno - Michael John Malvey Sr. a resident of Reno for over 53 years, passed away just two days before his 94th birthday, at his home on August 9, 2018. Born to John Michael Malvey and Mary Irene Hatton on August 11, 1924 in Salt Lake City, Utah. His father left when he was very young and he was raised by his mother and Irish grandmother who called him her "Jackie", Irish for the name John. Mike was very proud of being "Irish".

He attended Oquirrh Elementary, Bryant Junior High and East High School. His step-father was an engineer on the Western Pacific Railroad. After high school his step-father got him a job as a Brakeman. WWII had started and so after working one year he joined the Navy Air Corps and reported to boot camp at Farragut, Idaho for basic training. Onward to Radio and Airborne school in Memphis, Tennessee, he graduated at the top of his class. The Commander of "Patrol Bomber Squadron" VPB22 chose him as the radio/radar operator on his new PBM5 sea plane. They were based at Kaneohe Bay, Honolulu, Hawaii. Their mission was to patrol the Pacific Ocean for Japanese Submarines and any other ship movements. As the islands were secured they would change bases - Saipan, Buckner Bay, Okinawa. Their plane flew over Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the Atomic Bombs were dropped to take pictures. The last base was Sasebo, Japan, patrolling the Inland Seas. When the war was over they flew back to the United States for Christmas 1945. While he was home on Christmas Eve he met his wife, Marilyn. It was a "fairy tale" love story and partnership that lasted almost 72 years. On September 16, 1946 Michael married Marilyn Geneva Williams in Salt Lake City.

After the war, he attended the University of Utah on the GI bill. While at school he also worked at Electrical Products Sign Co., Young Electric Sign Co. and also did newspaper layouts for Aurbachs department store for 75 cents an hour. He majored in Business Management and Accounting, with a goal of having a Sign Company of his own. He partnered with Bob Harmon who had a pick-up truck and could blow glass and the two started "20th Century Lites." The Company grew with branches in St. George, UT and Las Vegas, Nevada. While in charge of the Las Vegas company, Mike met Ernie Primm who wanted a sign on his Casino in Reno. Mike did the design, the sign was made in Salt Lake City and shipped to Reno. At that time, Reno had a "Red Line", meaning there were no gaming establishments on the "West" side of Virginia St. Ernie bought a building on the West side of Virginia Street and pressured the city to change the "code". Therefore the first Prima Donna sign, along with neon flashing lights and animation was installed in 1955.

In 1957, Mike decided to sell his partnership in the company when he was offered a job in Phoenix, Arizona. The family relocated to Tempe and a year later Mike started "Apache Neon". After five successful years, Arizona Bancorporation purchased "Apache Neon" and merged it into the largest Sign Co. in Arizona and Mike became manager. He stayed another two years before relocating to Reno, Nevada in 1965.

Reno was still small in 1965, with the city limits stopping at Moana Lane. The family settled in the rural area south of town and loved living amongst coyotes, cattle and sheep. Mike rented a building on Dickerson Road and created another sign company, "Signcraft". Their family included 4 children, Maureen, Connie, Michael and Steve. And in 1967 they were blessed with a fifth child, Kathleen.

The business was successful from the start. Mike did a variety of electrical signs including Warehouse Market-Solaris, Baldini's, and Sands Hotel. One of the unique jobs Mike did was in 1969, when Ernie Primm wanted to duplicate the show girls that were on the marquee on Virginia Street and install them on Sierra Street.

After 42 years he sold the business and he and Marilyn had time to take some trips. The trip to Ireland locating his grandmother's home was very important to him. He had been incredibly artistic all of his life. Mike's biggest pleasure came from watercolor painting. His paintings won awards and are treasured by everyone.

He was pre-deceased by his parents and children, Kathleen Sue 1st (1956) and Kathleen Sue 2nd (1995), son-in-law Norman Niver (2016). He is survived by his wife of 71 Years, Marilyn Malvey of Reno; his sister Wanda Hanson of Medford, OR, his children Maureen Sidley of Reno, Connie Niver on Salten City, CA, Michael Malvey, Jr (Cindi) of Yakama, WA, and Steven Malvey (Rhonda) of Reno, as well as 7 grandchildren,11 great-grandchildren, his niece Shirley Hanson of Pleasant Hill, CA and nephew Ronald Hanson (Lynn) of Cupertino, CA.

Funeral Services will be held Friday, August 17th at 11 a.m. at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, located at 4751 Neil Road, Reno, NV. Arrangements are under the direction of Walton's Funeral Home. A lunch reception to follow at the Malvey home.
Published in Reno Gazette-Journal on Aug. 12, 2018
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