In the span of 84 remarkable years, Mike is perhaps best known as the Head Golf Professional who touched thousands of lives with his impeccable patience and unmatched teaching style. He created highly successful junior golf programs from Southern California to Whitefish, which are still going strong today.
As a Hall of Famer and 55-year PGA Member, Mike’s noteworthy career extended far beyond the boundaries of the golf course. He was an accomplished soapbox derby racer, girls softball coach, Frankenstein, SAG member, hand model, bird hunter, fisherman, photographer, Santa Claus, entrepreneur, radio disc jockey once known as The Mellow Fellow, Whitefish Winter Carnival Prime Minister and King Ullr ... and this only scratches the surface. He truly had an infectious sense of humor, and a generous heart; and every kid who had the opportunity to honk his magnificent Lebanese nose will tell you so. Mike’s patriotism and love of country extended far beyond his four years of service in the United States Air Force. It was a rare occasion that you would see him without a U.S. flag pin on his lapel, and he would always keep extras on hand giving them away to anybody who wanted one. Mike’s love of family (which also included many close friends), was unquestionable, and there was nothing more important to him than being together for any and all occasions.
Mike Dowaliby was born on April 13, 1933 in Los Angeles, California, the son of Charles and Hannah Dowaliby.
He attended Los Angeles High School, graduating with the class of 1951. After high school, he enlisted in the United States Air Force and was stationed at Fairchild Air Force Base with the 99th Recon Wing as an ECM Technician for the B-36 Bomber. His Air Force years took him to Biloxi, Mississippi, as well as Guam, Japan and England. As a Staff Sergeant, he was presented an NCO Leadership Award and was honorably discharged in 1956.
After his service, Mike dabbled in carpentry but his greatest interest lay in the golf industry in Southern California. He was employed at the Sepulveda Golf Club, working on the driving range and teaching. It was there he gave a golf lesson to Sally Carruthers, whom he would eventually marry on Oct. 1, 1960. Over the next eight years their four children were born. Mike started at Woodland Hills Country Club in 1960 and in 1962 joined the PGA. In 1968, Mike opened the nearby Calabasas Park Country Club as their first PGA Head Professional.
In 1977, Mike took over the helm at the Whitefish Lake Golf Course, bringing with him his Junior Golf Legacy along with a world class golf shop and outstanding customer service. During his 22-year tenure there, he had a very successful career. In 2013, Mike was inducted into the Pacific Northwest Hall of Fame after celebrating his 50th year as a PGA member. He was recognized for his dedication to the game of golf and fostering youth development in the sport.
Mike’s love for Whitefish was evident with his community involvement. Early on, he embraced Whitefish Winter Carnival as a Viking, and was president of the board. He was honored to be selected as Prime Minister to King ULLR XXVI in 1985 and himself became King ULLR XLVIII in 2007. Mike was a member of the Whitefish Rotary Club devoting numerous hours to the Magic of Christmas Program every year, and was recognized as a Paul Harris Fellow.
Mike passed away on Sept. 17, 2017. He is survived by his wife Sally, their children Mark (Kitty) Dowaliby, Todd (Dixie) Dowaliby, and Sue (Ross) Strauser. He is also survived by his grandchildren Shane (Anamarie) Dowaliby, Emma (Jacob) Washer, Meg, Kim, Kara, and Mara Dowaliby, Rmi and Myah Strauser, and his sister Blanche Herring. He was preceded in death by his parents and his daughter Kim.
The family would like to extend their gratitude to the Whitefish EMTs, KRMC ICU and the Comfort Care Staff for their care and comfort of Mike.
A Vigil Service will be held on Friday, Oct. 6 at 7 p.m., followed by a Mass of Christian burial on Saturday, Oct. 7 at 11 a.m. at St. Charles Catholic Church in Whitefish. The family would also like to invite Mike’s friends to join them at the Whitefish Lake Restaurant on Monday, Oct. 9 at 3 p.m. for a reception to honor Mike.
The family suggests memorials made to the Whitefish Community Memorial Scholarship Fund c/o Whitefish Credit Union, St. Charles Catholic Church, Whitefish Rotary Club, Whitefish Winter Carnival, or the charity of the donor’s choice.
Austin Funeral Home in Whitefish is caring for the family. Online condolences may be submitted on Mike’s webpage at www.austinfh.com.