Michael Paul Opack, of Duluth, passed away Tuesday, May 24, 2011, in Essentia Health St. Mary's Hospice Care surrounded by his family.
He was born Oct. 23, 1932, the oldest of 14 children of Michael and Anna (Glamuzina) Opack. He was proud of his Raleigh Street roots and his Yugoslavian heritage and shared stories of both whenever he could. Mike graduated from Denfeld High School in 1950, before joining the United States Marine Corps. Mike completed the United States Marine Corps drill instructor course before being granted an honorable hardship discharge and returned home to help his mother, brothers and sisters after the passing of his father.
Mike was also an alumnus of Roscoe's Pool Hall where he spent many hours perfecting his pool skills and "Elvis" look.
Mike worked 49 years as a Mate and Captain, just shy of his goal of half a century sailing the Great Lakes. Sailing for Inland Steel he was on the L.E. Block, the P.D. Block and was the third Mate aboard the Wilfred Sykes when she made her maiden voyage. Earning his Master's License in 1972, he went to work as a ship's pilot for District Three's Upper Great Lakes Pilots Association and retired from Western Great Lakes Pilotage firm in 1999.
Mike was a strong union backer and member of Duluth/Superior Local 444 of the International Longshoreman Association, Master, Mates and Pilots union and the Duluth Lodge 12 of the International Shipmaster's Association.
He was preceded in death by his father, Michael; his mother, Anna; brother Jimmy; and uncles Steve, Tony and John Glamuzina.
Mike is survived by his wife of 34 years, Julie; daughter Melanie (Matt Frye) of Wilmington, N.C.; son Erick (Rebecca) of Duluth; grandchildren Grace, Riley and Reina.
The family would like to thank the staff of Essentia Health St. Mary's Hospice Care for the outstanding support, care and dignity shown at the end of Mike's life.
A private family memorial will be held at a later date with memorials sent to Essentia Health St. Mary's Hospice Care of Duluth.