Mike Rone, 63, formerly of St. Paul

Published 10:18am Wednesday, January 2, 2013 Updated 12:24pm Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Mike Rone, recently of Orono, died of a sudden illness on Dec. 29, 2012.

Mike was born on May 23, 1949, in Miami Beach, Fla.

He moved to St. Paul with his family in 1964, and attended Highland Park High School graduating in 1967, where he honed his graceful and fearless approach to life through his passion for diving.

He then graduated from Union College in Ithaca, N.Y., in 1971, and went on to the University of North Carolina for several years in pursuit of a PhD in Neuroanatomy.

However, before he could complete his studies at UNC, Mike’s father, George, asked him to join him in his kitchen cabinet manufacturing company, Medallion Kitchens. This began Mike’s lifelong career in business, most recently Northern Contours, which he co-founded in 1992.

He loved the people, risk, potential and game of business and he was rooted in the joy and connectivity of every encounter.

Mike leaves behind his wife, Kristin Lipshultz Rone (Carlson); his two daughters, Jerusha (of the world at large) and Jessica (Carey Smith) of Taos, N.M., as well as their mother, Carol Rone of St. Paul; a brother, Rick Rone of Bradenton, Fla., and a sister, Lynn Rogers of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; and many nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents, George and Irma Rone, residents of the Highland Park area for many years.

Those who know and love Mike will remember him for his great sense of humor, the warm twinkle in his eye and his magnanimous character. He had a sharp wit but a gentle tongue. His motto for life was “Work Hard, Play Hard,” and he followed that with all his heart, always mixing business with pleasure.

Mike and Kristin’s love of travel was enriched by including family and friends in every adventure. Among the highlights were Africa, Papua New Guinea, Mexico, Turkey and Italy.

He loved activities that drew people into his life to play. One of his favorite things was to spend time with his family and friends at their cabin on Battle Lake where he presided over and won many a heated family Ping-Pong tournament.

Mike was also a bit of a risk taker, which came with being devoted to living life to its fullest. A few years ago, Mike realized his dream of a private pilot’s license. He loved to take friends and family up for rides in his plane (those who would dare!). He was thrilled to put his skills to use flying his single engine Cessna on a three-week adventure to Costa Rica with his daughter Jerusha.

Mike was a regular participant in the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge, an annual 192-mile bike ride across Massachusetts raising funds for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Mike has completed this ride nearly every year since 1992, and raised countless thousands of dollars for the cause.

Once his friend, you were always Mike’s friend, no matter how long it had been since you’d seen him last. He has a core group dating back to college days of the Delta Phi fraternity at Union. The bond of this brotherhood was the motivation for continued gatherings for golf, skiing and Mark Knopfler.

Another close-knit group, which recently included his daughter Jessica, would gather in the Selkirk Mountains of British Columbia for a special powder skiing adventure. When his friends ascend this year, they will carry Mike in their hearts.

A celebration of Mike’s life is planned at 1 p.m., Sunday, at the University Club, 420 Summit Ave., in St. Paul. There will be an opportunity for all to share stories and memories with a reception immediately following.

No flowers please. Memorials preferred to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, or the charity of your choice.


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