Cover photo for Michael Wetzstein Sr.'s Obituary
Michael Wetzstein Sr. Profile Photo
1945 Michael 2024

Michael Wetzstein Sr.

May 10, 1945 — May 18, 2024


Mike Wetzstein Sr., 79, a lifelong Mandan resident, passed away peacefully with his family by his side on May 18, 2024, at Sanford Health, Bismarck. 

Mass of Christian burial will be held at 10:30 AM on Friday, May 24, 2024, at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Mandan, with Fr. Josh Waltz celebrating. Burial will be at the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery.  

The family will greet friends one hour prior to the service at the church on Friday.

Mike was born in Mandan on May 10, 1945, the youngest of four children to Adam and Stella (Zwarych) Wetzstein. Raised and educated in Mandan, he attended St. Joseph School and graduated from Mandan High School. Mike enlisted in the Army Reserve and was honorable discharged, never speaking much of his service but holding a great love for his country. He learned the importance and value of hard work from a young age. His uncle, Frank Wetzstein, was a Mandan business man and rancher who taught Mike many skills and trades. Mike attended Bismarck Junior College to learn how to do the bookwork for the businesses. From the bus garage where Mike drove and repaired buses, to managing an apartment building, and the local movie theater and drive-in. Mike’s greatest passion and favorite work was at the family ranch in rural Oliver County where he enjoyed calving and haying. 

In grade school, Mike met a younger girl from his neighborhood, Karen Schmautz. Their first interactions were typical boy picks on girl that led to Karen’s parents calling Mike’s parents. This went back and forth for years throughout school. Eventually both worked at the Mandan movie theater and their relationship grew, although they could never recall who started things. Mike and Karen dated for five years when one day at the movies, he asked her to marry him. They were married on February 9, 1974 and lived above the bus garage where Mike worked for awhile before buying a home in north Mandan, in the same neighborhood they both grew up in. Here they raised their four children and made many wonderful memories. Mike was not like other dads. He was a fun loving, good time father and taught his kids all the good things life has to give. He showed them that you only have one life to live and should live it to the fullest, leaving nothing unsaid, undone, and no stone left unturned. Treat people the way you want to be treated and if someone offers you something for free, take it and figure out what to do later. He passed on his work ethic and love for the family ranch, taught them how to cook (even his secret recipes he learned from his mother), how to drive, and most importantly shared his faith in God. He taught them to pray, trust in God, and no matter what was going on or if someone had other plans, their family attended Mass every single Saturday. While Mike knew how to work hard and pray hard, he also knew how to play hard! There was never a dull moment in their house from heated games of Uno, (Mike’s favorite game), to spirited discussions, and so much laughter. Sundays in the summer were spent on the river near the ranch and deer hunting was a family tradition. His ability to throw a great party escalated into hosting Mandan’s Party on the Prairie, an iconic Mandan tradition he organized for 15 years on Mandan’s Crying Hill. A longstanding family tradition was being a member of the Elk’s Club where Mike held numerous offices and was a past Exalted Ruler.  Mike’s midlife crisis came in the form of a 1997 Chevy Corvette and he loved to cruise with the top down. His family meant everything to him and when his greatest blessings of grandchildren came into the picture, the sky was the limit as Mike loved to spoil them.

Mike understood that before he was born, God already had a plan for his life. This plan could not be changed or interrupted. Mike understood his assignment and purpose in life. He worked hard, played hard, and loved hard. “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!” - Hunter S. Thompson.  

Not all angels have wings, some have cowboy hats. Know that this is not goodbye, but we will see you later. Go rest easy cowboy and fly high. Go give heaven some hell and make them wonder how you got in. 

Mike had many amazing titles from son, brother, nephew, uncle, husband, father, father-in-law, grandfather, and a friend to many. He will be remembered as a hardworking, rugged, fun, loveable family man. Mike will be deeply missed by those who knew and loved him including his wife of 50 years, Karen Wetzstein, Mandan; four children, Michael Wetzstein Jr. (Sarah Kadrmas), Chris Wetzstein, Sarah (Jesse) Wetzstein-Paul, all of Mandan, and Angela (Justin) Miller, Bismarck; grandchildren, Reese and Adam Wetzstein and Greyson Miller; three siblings, Ann Augustin, Baltimore, MA, Francis “Buck” (Sandy) Wetzstein, and Adam Steve “Duke” (Penny) Wetzstein, all of Mandan; and his beloved bulldog, Tug.

Mike was preceded in death by his parents, Adam and Stella Wetzstein; in-laws, Leonard and Caroline Schmautz; brother-in-law, Ken Augustin; sister-in-law, Mary Kay Yager; and bulldog, Chumley.

The family thanks Tara Haberlock, Pulmonary Nurse Practitioner at Sanford Health, for her years of caring for Mike. 

In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to St. Joseph Catholic Church, the ND Veterans Cemetery, or the Elk’s charity Camp Grassick.


To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Michael Wetzstein Sr., please visit our flower store.
Michael Wetzstein Service Bulletin.pdf


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