Friday, August 19, 2022

Michael Edwin La Sorte, 76

| July 1, 2022 12:00 AM

Michael Edwin La Sorte died peacefully in his sleep at home in Kalispell, on June 16, 2022, of congestive heart failure. He was born to Frank and Donna La Sorte in Cut Bank on Dec. 23, 1945, and was 76 years of age at the time of his death.

Mike graduated from Cut Bank High School in 1963. He attended U of M in Missoula and married his high school sweetheart, Jenny Lee of Cut Bank, in the First Presbyterian Church of Cut Bank on July 27, 1968. They made their home in Billings where they started a family and welcomed daughter, Jana, followed by son, Darren. Mike graduated from Army Officer Candidate School in Montana and completed helicopter pilot training at Fort Rucker, Alabama. As a member of the Montana Army National Guard, he flew helicopter missions. Because of his skill as a pilot, he saved the life of a general who was his passenger when they experienced engine failure. The general was so impressed with Mike’s performance under duress that he recommended him for admission to Command and General Staff College, where he later graduated.

Mike completed his degree in management and finance by correspondence during military training. After moving to Missoula in 1973, in addition to flying part-time for the Guard, Mike served as scholarship and financial aid officer at U of M from 1975 to 1978 before moving to Duluth, Minnesota, for a command tour at the National Guard armory there. He had a number of active duty tours, including in Germany where he flew the Iron Curtain, Illinois, Washington State, and the Pentagon during Desert Storm, among them. For his service at the Pentagon, he received The Meritorious Service Medal as mobilization branch chief for “… exemplary efforts [that] contributed directly to significant improvement in the mobilization readiness of the Army National Guard …” At the rank of lieutenant colonel, he returned to Montana for a command tour at the Kalispell armory before his final assignment at Fort McPherson, Georgia, after which he retired from the Army and went to work for Lockheed Martin In Marietta, Georgia, for 10 years. He wrote the computer training manual for the C-130J and lived in Bristol, England, for a year to train the British pilots for Lockheed.

Mike and Jenny moved to Round Rock, Texas, for five years to be closer to family members and then moved back home to Montana in 2011. At home in Kalispell, Mike volunteered for Meals on Wheels and served on the Eagle Transit and Buffalo Hill Golf Club boards. He was a certified master club builder through Golfsmith, and enjoyed golf and club building and repair, as well as gunsmithing and flying his drone.

Mike was preceded in death by his grandparents and parents.

He is survived by his wife Jenny at home in Kalispell; daughter Jana of New York City; son Darren (Hayley) of Dallas, Texas; sisters Betty (Larry) Spain of Woodridge, Illinois, Frances La Sorte of Glendale, Arizona, Karyl (Tom) Gopp of Ferndale, and Marilyn La Sorte of Columbia Falls; as well as many cousins, nieces, and nephews.

Mike lived a long, full, and distinguished life of service to God, country, and community. He was a family man and kept his many friends over the years. His love and friendship were cherished by all, and he will be deeply missed by all. Toward the end of his life, he enjoyed breakfasts with his friends group, dinners and meetings with his fellow pilot friends, vacations in Hawaii, his dog Mac, and his cat Tootsie.

Cremation has taken place, and a memorial service is scheduled for July 29, at 1 p.m., at Faith Covenant Church in Kalispell, Pastor Lloyd Pierson officiating, with a reception to follow. In addition, an Honor Guard service will take place on August 1, at 1:30 p.m., at the Montana State Veterans Cemetery in Missoula, reception to follow. Memorial donations may be made in Mike’s name to The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) at Buffalo Hill Funeral Home in Kalispell is caring for the family.

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