Obituary for Michael McCool

Ponca City Now - September 19, 2023 3:42 pm

Mike McCool

January 15, 1961 – September 13, 2023

Michael Vell “Mike” McCool, life-long resident of Ponca City, died at his home on September 13, 2023, after a long battle with heart disease, and several years on the heart transplant list. Mike was born in Ponca City to H.L. “Mac” McCool and Ann Clothier McCool in 1961. He was 62 years old. He attended school here, graduating from Ponca City High School in 1979. He attended Northern Oklahoma College, and obtained his Licensed Practical Nurse certification.

In 2014 Mike married his long-time partner in life, Jack “Jay” Ward. This month marked their 40th anniversary together. In 1998, at age three, Jay’s nephew, Austin, joined the family, becoming a loving son, supporter, and caregiver. He brought to the family his daughter, Lucy, his fiancée, Nicole Birch and her daughter, Nevada.

During the late 1980’s and 1990’s, the AIDS epidemic was raging. Mike and Jay were living in Kansas City, and were witness to the deaths of several of their friends. Mike was not yet a nurse, but with the necessary training and no hesitation, he began working with AIDS patients, providing home care, house cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, personal needs; just basically anything that was needed. He decided to obtain training to be an “exiting nurse”, which was someone who sat with a patient during their end of life transition. These were patients who had no relatives, or whose parents and/or family members had chosen to stay away, leaving them with no one to comfort them or hold their hand in their last hours. It was during this time that Mike decided that this was his calling, and that he would pursue a nursing career.

Mike loved being a nurse, and he was good at it! He cared for his patients with a special gentleness and compassion. He held positions as administrator for several home health services and worked with clients at the Opportunity Center. His last employment prior to his disability was at Westminster Village (now Via Christi Village).

Mike was also an accomplished artist. He utilized that talent in his job at the Opportunity Center, where he was instrumental in starting up the screen printing program. He painted with oils, and also produced beautifully detailed pen and ink drawings, most of which he lovingly gave away as gifts. He enjoyed making greeting cards, drawing beautiful pen and ink images, and writing original poems inside. Granddaughters Lucy and Nevada enjoyed countless hours doing art with papa Mike, the results of which were always lovingly displayed. Mike’s family and friends were never quite able to convince him of how very talented and gifted he was.

Mike was a life-long member of Albright United Methodist Church. As a child, he could often be found “hanging out” at the church while mom Ann worked as church secretary. Like his late father, Mike had a beautiful tenor voice, and he loved to sing. He enjoyed singing in the church choir, and once in a while, on special occasions, we could convince him to sing a solo.

Some of Mikes favorite things were traveling, watching old movies, anything Barbra Streisand, and a song written by one of his favorite friends, Donna Evans. He sang it all the time…over and over. Jay says he didn’t need a machine for music, he had Mike. He also loved dancing country two-step, and attending concerts. They were fortunate to see Diana Ross, Elton John, and Cher, among others. Mike loved big family Christmases, mom Ann’s chocolate mayonnaise birthday cakes, and sharing his birthday with his two sisters. Mike’s very favorite thing was when he and Jay could spend time in their special vacation place, Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

Mike is survived by his husband, Jay; son, Austin and his fiancée, Nicole Birch; granddaughters, Lucy and Nevada; sister, Norma Hurd; brothers, Rick McCool (Sharon); and Darrel McCool; sister-in-law, Nia Nave (Sonny); brother-in law, Caleb Ward (Donna); and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins. He was preceded in death by his parents, H.L. and Ann McCool; sister, Margaret Estes; father-in-law, Jack Ward; brother-in-law, Wendell “Pete” Hurd, and sister-in-law, Judy McCool.

A memorial service to celebrate Mike’s life will be held Friday, September 22, at 2:00 p.m. at Albright United Methodist Church, 128 S. Palm, Ponca City.

Should you desire to honor Mike’s memory, please consider a donation to the Elton John AIDS Foundation, the American Heart Association, and/or becoming an organ donor. Arrangements are under the direction of Trout Funeral Home & Crematory, 505 W. Grand Ave., Ponca City, OK, 74601.

Source: Trout Funeral Home