Obituary: Michael Eugene Schlichtman
May 10, 1963 — Oct. 6, 2020
Mike Schlichtman, 57, of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, died Oct. 6, 2020, in a plane crash near Evansville, Indiana. He was an entrepreneur, an avid outdoorsman, an accomplished endurance athlete, a devoted husband to his wife, Lisa, who was his partner in life for 35 years, and an amazing father to his sons, Nick and Ryan, who he loved beyond measure.
Mike was born May 10, 1963, in Springfield, Missouri, the first child of Gene and Judy Schlichtman. He grew up in Cassville, Missouri, and graduated from Cassville High School in 1981. He attended the University of Missouri — Columbia, where he was a proud member of Farm House fraternity and the rugby team. He graduated in 1985 with a degree in ag economics.
He and Lisa were married Aug. 10, 1985, and they spent the first year of their marriage in Columbia, Missouri, while Lisa finished her degree in journalism.
In 1986, Mike and Lisa moved to Cassville where Mike joined his family’s business, Sunny Acres, and went into partnership with his father. Mike helped grow the hog operation and food waste recycling business until he and his dad sold the business in 1997.
In 1995, Mike and Lisa had the opportunity to purchase the Cassville Democrat and then the Wheaton Journal. The two owned and operated the newspapers for 10 years with Mike serving as publisher and Lisa as editor, before selling the newspaper to Rust Communications in 2005. They then went on to work for Rust as a co-publishing team, overseeing the Cassville Democrat, the Monett Times and Connection magazine.
In 2006, Mike purchased the original Baywash car wash in Cassville, and then in 2007, built the Baywash II car wash. Both car washes are still operating today under the Schlichtmans’ ownership.
During their time in Cassville, Mike was very involved with the local soccer organization and coached Nick and Ryan from kindergarten until they joined the high school soccer team. He was a member of the Cassville Rotary Club, serving as club president in 2000. He and Lisa also were involved in serving as youth group leaders at the First Baptist Church in Cassville, where they were members. One of Mike’s greatest joys was helping to plan and host youth ski trips to Colorado
Another passion of Mike’s was flying. He was a licensed pilot and owned five different airplanes during his lifetime, including an antique Porterfield and a kit plane that he built himself. His last plane was a Cirrus that he purchased so he and Lisa could fly all over the country to watch their sons play college soccer.
Mike and Lisa dreamed of living in Colorado, and in 2013, the call of the mountains and Lisa’s new job as editor of Steamboat Pilot & Today brought them to Steamboat, a community that quickly became home.
Mike always said that if Lisa hadn’t accepted his proposal of marriage he would have become a ski bum in Colorado, and moving to Steamboat, gave him the chance to experience a little bit of that dream. Mike became a seasonal employee at Steamboat Resort, working one season as a liftie and one season as an ambassador until he found his niche as a ski instructor. Mike also developed a love for backcountry skiing and some of his best days were spent exploring the terrain outside of Steamboat or skinning up to Thunderhead, accompanied by good friends and his beloved dog, Pilot.
Life in Colorado agreed with Mike and fueled his desire to challenge himself mentally and physically. He competed in numerous local races, including the Steamboat Pentathlon, the Steamboat Triathlon, the Tour de Steamboat, the Steamboat Stinger and the Steamboat Marathon.
He also was an Ironman, which earned him the nickname of Iron Mike among the men and women he trained with. He completed full Ironman races in Panama City, Florida, and Boulder, Colorado, and seven 70.3 Ironman races, including a trip to Mont-Blanc, Canada, where he competed in the 2014 Ironman 70.3 World Championships.
Not only was Mike an endurance athlete but he was a fearless adventurer, and in 2015, those two pursuits collided when he completed the Tour Divide, a 2,745-mile unsupported mountain bike race along the Continental Divide trail through the Rocky Mountains from Banff, Canada, to Antelope, New Mexico, on the Mexican border. Mike completed the ride in 21 days, averaging 150 miles a day.
In 2017, Mike participated in the inaugural American Trail Race, another unsupported ride from North Carolina’s Outer Banks to the West Coast. Mike finished the 5,100-mile ride in 48 days. This year, COVID-19 interfered with his plans to tackle the Tour Divide for a third time with his close friend John Williams.
In addition to his athletic pursuits, Mike wanted to find a way to give back to the community, so he joined the Rotary Club of Steamboat Springs and became a volunteer member of Routt County Search and Rescue.
In the final months of his life, he spent his days outside at a piece of property that he and Lisa purchased in North Routt creating a beautiful place for his family and friends to gather. It was his final gift to those he loved so much.
Mike leaves behind a family who adored him, including his wife, Lisa; son Nick and his wife, Kera; son Ryan and his longtime love Rachel Mathews; his parents, Gene and Judy Schlichtman; his sisters, Barb Schlichtman and Mary Jane Schreur; brothers-in-law Tim Schreur, Jason Keller, Hughie Neilson and James E. Duby; sister-in-law Kristen Keller; his in-laws, Pat and Hugh Neilson; as well as aunts and uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews and countless friends, many of whom called him brother.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Mike’s memory to Routt County Search and Rescue, P.O. Box 772837, Steamboat Springs, CO 80477, or people can donate through the organization’s website at http://www.routtcountysar.org.
Due to COVID-19, there is no public memorial service planned. Instead, Mike’s family will gather at the North Routt property, which Mike named Chateau McAlpin, for a private celebration of life.
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