John Michael Witous Obituary
Michael was born May 7, 1953 in Chicago, Illinois to John E. Witous and Joanne M. Witous (née McConkey) who met at Northwestern University and married in 1951. Shortly after, the family moved to Kansas City, Missouri where Mike attended elementary and part of junior high school. There he enjoyed the birth of his siblings, James, Jana and Jeff. After enough cold weather the family moved to Rancho Palos Verdes in 1966.
From the start Mike was an athlete. Mike took to baseball, surfing, basketball, pop warner football, anything and everything competitive. He continued to excel academically and athletically at Rolling Hills High School from 1967 – 1971. He lettered in three sports, but his passion was football. In his junior and senior years, Mike was one of the most sought after and highly recruited high school football players. He ultimately accepted a full scholarship to play football for the University of Oregon in 1971. For those who knew Mike well there are two things you know: he was a lifelong Rolling Hills Titan and Oregon Duck. He played for Oregon three years before a debilitating injury that put him on the sidelines. Among a rare few, Mike had the heart and God-given talent to make it to the pros. His nickname was “Rhino,” because he was big, strong, fast, and feared—no one wanted to take a punishing hit from him. He cracked more than one guy’s helmet playing football. Evident to those who knew him best, Mike majored in History and his education continued well after college. Mike was a veracious reader who could cite facts from Roman Empire to present, and in context.
In 1974, Mike had his first child, Jesse Simon. Mike then married the love of his life, Elizabeth Witous (née Zeisler), in 1979 and together they welcomed their first child Jessica into the world in 1981. Their second daughter, Jackie, was born in 1987, followed by Jillian in 1989. His girls were his world. He was a loyal husband, father, and protector. And this love extended to his grandchildren, Jamison, Penelope, and Riley. Mike was an entertainer. In addition to his notorious off-color jokes, he kept the girls and others captivated with his storytelling. Many of his stories were told with great passion and a good deal of embellishment, or what the Witous family affectionately calls “the Joanie Factor.” He never let the facts get in the way of telling a good story, and he was happy to recycle pieces of different stories and splice them into Mike Witous originals.
Mike spent over three decades in the aluminum extrusion industry, exceling to become a National Sales Manager for Sierra Aluminum. He loved the people at his Company, and thrived by building deep, trusting relationships with colleagues and clients alike. He had humility and charisma. Mike never spoke down to anyone and had a connection with executives as well as plant workers on the production line. Some say he could relate better to people in the Plant who made the business work, and that he never took them for granted.
Mike Witous was a gregarious, big-hearted individual who always had a smile on his face. He never complained, looked at what was right versus wrong, found the best in everyone, and would give the shirt off of his back to someone in need—even if it was the only shirt he had. He was selfless, loving, extraordinarily loyal, a great husband, father, grandfather, and brother.
Among many passions, Mike loved building and collecting models. When the girls were younger, he offered to “help” with school projects. This often meant him taking over. His girls got A’s on their California Mission projects that they hardly touched. As for his personal models, these were mainly military focused, including but not limited to aircraft, ships and tanks. Many models he built over the years are enshrined at Naval, Marine Corps and Air Force Bases, Army forts, and museums. He loved his pals in the Temecula Valley Model Club and Pendleton AMPS, meeting regularly to share knowledge, ideas, strategies, and friendship. He’d host an annual barbecue at his house every October for his fellow model aficionados, some of whom traveled all the way from Europe to attend.
Given the current social distancing actions by the State of California, a memorial service and celebration of life has not yet been scheduled.
Mike’s wishes were to celebrate his life not by sending flowers or mourning, but instead by doing something that has a positive impact on society. He was passionate about helping those less fortunate, and was active in the “Remember the Titans,” Project Shortstop philanthropy. This focuses on underprivileged kids who through “Shortstop” have the opportunity to transcend challenging lives. In honor and memory of Mike, the Charity established the Mike Witous Memorial Scholarship Fund, allowing people to make tax deductible donations at the link below to help kids. In lieu of flowers, and to answer the countless questions about what people can do, please visit the website at the link below. There is a question on the form that asks, “In Honor Of” or “In Memory of,” so select either one and feel free to add your comments. Also, so that the family sees it, please add Elizabeth Witous’ email; email@example.com.
John Michael Witous is survived by his wife, Elizabeth, son Jesse, daughters Jessica, Jackie and Jillian, grandchildren Jamison, Penelope and Riley, son-in-law Tom, daughter-in-law Sarah, siblings Jim, Jana and Jeff, sister-in-law Julie, and brother-in-law Michael.
May 7, 1953 - March 15, 202005/07/195303/15/2020
2 Trees have been planted in memory of Michael Witous.