Michael T. Fagan, 71, of Meadowlakes died July 28, 2015

Posted on 05 August 2015

Michael T. “Mike” Fagan, 71, of Meadowlakes, Texas, passed away July 28, 2015, at his home. Mike had been fighting pancreatic cancer since his diagnosis in February of this year.

A farewell gathering of friends is 6:30 p.m. Aug. 14 at Forno’s, 201 Main St. in Marble Falls. A memorial service is noon Aug. 15 at the VFW Post 10376 in Marble Falls.

Mike was born in 1943 in the Iron Range of Minnesota to William John Fagan of Stanley, Wisconsin, and Martha Porthan Fagan of Ely, Minnesota. He graduated from Hibbing High School, Georgetown University and the University of Texas at Austin, where he held a doctorate in electronic media communications.

Mike served in the Air Force for 20 years flying rescue helicopters during Vietnam and later training and conducting accident investigations before retiring from the military. He later became a professor and taught electronic media production at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Missouri in Springfield and helped grow the electronic media program at Ozarks Technical Community College in Springfield.

Mike is survived by his brother, William John Fagan Jr.; son, Brandon Michael Fagan; wife, Misty, and their two children, Patrick and Jacob; and countless colleagues, friend and students who will miss him.

Mike loved working in education, and it showed in his relationships.

From colleagues: “Rest in peace Dr. Fagan! He was a wonderful advocate for high school students! He challenged, inspired and loved those in his classroom. This man was a difference maker! I valued the times he stopped by the office to discuss a variety of topics! I felt extra special when he allowed me to read one of his manuscripts.”

From his students: “I’m just sitting here thinking about what a privilege it was to study under this man. If you knew him, then you know. If you never had the honor, that’s too bad. I learned so much love and respect for the craft from this man. The amount of living history he embodied was universe big. Getting into his department was easily one of the most formative moments in my professional life.”

“I was a scruffy Kid, he was a freaking Dr. Of Media with a resume that would put anybody to shame. He took me seriously and treated me like I actually had potential. I know now that my relationship with him was really nothing special, he treated everybody with a level of righteousness that is downright rare, not just me, even though it seemed like nobody could invest that much in that many … But, man, he made me feel like I could actually accomplish something. He made me feel capable. And compared to how I’d been treated to that point, it was huge.”

“He turned me onto something so cool, and with such radical enthusiasm … I make videos now because Dr. Fagan made me fall in love with it. My first lecture with him he said ‘guys, you got a tiger by the tail in this program. If you hold on, by God you’ll be glorious. Don’t let it go.’ Dr. Michael Fagan, You will be missed.”

He spent his retirement enjoying the Hill Country, his family and friends and long drives taking photographs of the places and faces he loved.

Email comments from Classmates:

Jan. 20, 2016.  The obituary notice for Mike was recently discovered by Ted VonFeldt and notices were sent out
by Dennis Johnson to several Hibbing High Class of 1961 classmates that we have on our email list. 
Below are comments we have received.


Dennis, back at you, I was feeling nostalgic the other night after reading Mark Salos' note about Mike Kanieskis' death. I guess the name Mike spurred some thought as I hadn't heard anything about Mike Fagan for years. That was odd because Mike was very well known in school. Mike and I were friends in school and listened to folk records at his house. I just googled his name and the obit came up. Great guy. I knew he was a Bird Colonel in the Air Force but I didn't know the rest of the story.   

Ted VonFeldt  1-20-16 (Dallas, Texas)
I remember Mike with fondness from the many trips I shared with him as part of the debate team and the songs we sang together with Mr. Olson on those trips.

And I also remember when, at a district speech tournament, a group of us hid behind a building and shared cigarettes from a pack Mike had hidden in a hollowed-out book, violating Minnesota State High School League rules.

He was a brilliant student, a National Merit semi-finalist. I regret never having been able to talk with him after our graduation.
May he rest in peace.
Jeanne Maki (Minnesota)
If you have an email address for John Backman you should let him know as well.  He mentioned last summer that he and Mike were in a Shakespeare company together.

I spent a lot of time with Mike starting in the eighth grade.  He taught me how to sail.  Much of our relationship was the speech activities Jeanne describes (above), and I remember well the ingenious hollowed-out book.  He was a capable guitarist, and I'm sure Jeanne remembers the quartet of Mike, Laura Kuitinen, her, and me.  I remember that he did an outstanding job as the traveling salesman (Ali Hakim) in our senior play Oklahoma (1961).

He was so smart.  He didn't work hard on his studies, as I recall.  He was a non-conformist in lots of ways, which made him interesting then, and from my perspective now, admirable.  Every once and a while Mike and I would go the Hibbing Steam Bath (Second Avenue East?) for a sauna, followed by an Orange Crush and a few Marlboros.  

I gather that he was not in touch with any of his classmates.  It's comforting to know that he became a wonderful teacher.  I wish that I had followed up on my impulse to find him. 
Brian Butler  (Wisconsin)
Sorry to hear about Mike. What an interesting guy he was! Nice to see that he shared his  great intelligence with a lot of young people. 
Sheila Rothkopf Stageberg (Minnesota)
Thanks for this news, sad although it may be. Mike and I went to Georgetown together way back in Sept. 1961 and shared physics 1 and calculus 1 classes. I have quite a few fond memories of those days. Regards from here (Argentina).
Richard Branham
Thank you for your message - even though it was sad ! I remember Mike as a wonderful actor.
Martin Horsted (Denmark) (12th grade foreign exchange student)
Thanks for sharing, Denny. Mike had a very interesting life. 
Tallie Sachs Paperny (California)
Sad to hear about Michael Fagan, always thought of him as a good friend in high school.
Steven Erickson (Washington)
After reading Mikes obituary he surely accomplished much in his lifetime.  I had no idea...but I am not surprised.
Winnie Frost Rengstorf (Minnesota)
I sure would have loved to see him again!  So sad.  He was a great friend!  
Michele Laurienzo Drlaca ( Hibbing, MN)
Michael was a very gifted person and a good friend. 
Sharon Breen Holte (Minnesota)
I remember him as a very pleasant and interesting person.  I knew he flew helicopters in the war but did not know about his subsequent role as a college teacher.  He apparently led a full and rewarding life.
Chuck Swanson (Minnesota) 

Thanks for keeping us up-to-date on our classmates.  Makes me wonder why some of us are still here when so many are not.  Michael was such a nice guy--and smart!  Would have liked to have seen him at some of the reunions, but am so glad to read the comments by his students and friends.  He definitely lived up to what I would have expected him to do.  He made a difference in the world around him.
Donna Korhonen Yecke

So very, very sorry to learn about Mike.  Just finished reading the comments posted on our HHS site.  Tears have been flowing.  What a life!
Carmen Howden Palazarri

My foray into the local music scene was as a member of the "Tijuana Trio". Comprised of myself, (Dennis Johnson), Mike Fagan, and Monte Edwardson (class of 1960), we were doing folk rock songs modeled after The Kingston Trio. We won the group award at the April 1960 High School Talent Show. Monte graduated in 1960 and moved away. Mike and I enetered the Winter Frolic talent contest in early 1961 as the "Tijuana Trio Minus One" and I can't remember if we won any awards! They referred to us as "Calypso Singers".

Mike and I also did several radio "Jingles" or singing advertisements for the Junior Achievment Radio Show (1 1/2 hour long) which aired on Saturday mornings. These singing ads (with Mike also playing guitar) were played during the week to get listeners of WMFG (Hibbing) radio to tune in on Saturdays. We actually got paid for doing that! I think I still have the reel to reel tape! We also played at the 1961 Senior Class Banquet - it says so on the program but I don't remember that gig. We probably played there because both Mike & I were on the entertainment committee.

In the Spring 1961 High School Talent Show, we added Kenny Ostroot playing bongos. Kenny was in a group called the "Silhouttes" in the Winter Frolic Talent Show. I guess we changed our name back to the "Tiajuana Trio" because that's how we're listed. We won the group competition for the second year. And that's the rest of the story because, going our seperate ways after high school, we never did anything more.

Monte Edwardson, Dennis Johnson & Mike Fagan - "The Tijuana Trio"


Mike Fagan Practicing at Dennis Johnson's House

Monte, Mary Jo Malone, (early groupie), Mike Fagan


Fagan Fagan Fagan