Obituary: William Michael (Mike) Rooney (1943-2020)

Chief Master Sergeant William Michael (Mike) Rooney, Ret, passed away 15 September 2020 after a battle with Alzheimer’s.  His wife Donna, son Adam, daughter Nicole, and stepdaughter Kristy were by his side when he passed.

Born in Kansas in 1943, Mike was an extraordinary father and husband who was constantly sought after for his intellect and calm demeanor.  Mike grew up in Martinez, CA, with his parents and four siblings. Mike had a passion for baseball, and during his senior year at Alhambra High School, he was an all-star pitcher throwing multiple no-hitters.  After his senior year, Mike enlisted in the US Air Force, but what he never knew until years later is that the L.A. Dodgers wanted him to try out for their farm team, but his mother, Judy, hid the letter fearing he wouldn’t join the service.

Nevertheless, Mike had a distinguished career as a morse code operator and signals collection analyst.  He served many tours overseas in Europe and Asia, including two separate tours in Vietnam in 1968 and 1970.  Mike was an airborne signals analyst while in Vietnam and came quite close to being shot down a couple of times, even carrying a piece of shrapnel in his hand from anti-aircraft fire for the rest of his life.  Mike spoke fondly of serving with his comrades in Vietnam and in 2013 he finally had his chance to visit the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. which he had previously avoided as he had close friends’ names etched on the wall. He found immense admiration upon seeing the stunning monument to fallen friends.

While serving in the European theater, Mike and his wife Jane had two children, Adam and Nicole.  Mike retired from the service after 27 years as a Chief Master Sergeant and his final posting was a senior enlisted advisor with some aspirations for Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, the force’s highest rank; however, he felt it was time to keep the family in one place.

After his retirement, he and the family relocated from Greece back to his hometown of Martinez.  There, Mike received his realtor’s license and worked  for Lippow Development Company alongside his mother, Judy, eventually rising to Vice President within the company.  During the 90s, Mike was elected to two consecutive terms as the president of the Martinez Chamber of Commerce.

Mike was remarried to his wife, Donna, in early 2000s and moved to Sparks, Nevada, where he was a broker for Prudential realty until his retirement.

Mike was an avid fisherman and outdoorsman, never one to shy away from a good fish story, like his ‘what-a-fish’ brown trout caught from a stream.  For his son’s 8th grade graduation trip, he booked a trip up to the Yosemite area and there he fell in love with the little town of Bridgeport, California.  From that point, Mike made dozen and dozens of family trips up to the Yosemite area either camping or staying at a local inn.

During Mike and Donna’s 18 year marriage they followed Mike’s love of travel. Jamaica, Puerto Vallarta, France, Canada and too many National Parks to mention. The love of fishing never ended.  Buckeye Campground, up the mountain from Bridgeport, was almost a monthly camping trip.

He is survived by his wife Donna, son Adam,  daughter Nikki, and stepdaughter Kristy.  Mike’s three younger siblings, Tim, Judy, and Colleen are still living strong. Mike had many grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

The family is grateful for Mike’s many blessings in life. While we miss him terribly, he is fishing and camping and enjoying being free again.

Mike will be interred at Arlington. The family will have a celebration of life in Martinez when it’s safe to gather. No flowers please. Donations to the Alzheimer’s Association in his name would be appreciated.

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