By Cynthia Monrean
Special to Glacier City Gazette
In 2011, Mike Testa found out about an opportunity to work at the Harbor Store from an online “Aces High” flight simulator friend Shawn McCrary, a taxidermist then living in Whittier. Mike exceeded his dream to travel to Alaska when he contacted the owner, RC Collin, who became a close friend. Buddy, his dog, came with him when he became the Store Manager and lived in Whittier every April through October from 2011-16. This experience was a lifetime dream come true.
Mike liked everyone and soon became an invaluable resource to locals and visitors. He was always willing to help solve a problem, locate a part, or find someone who could. Mike was always delighted to introduce you to the Pink Mamba.
Mike worked every day, next to never leaving Whittier until October. You might find him on a rare two-minute break on the Harbor Store porch enjoying a meal from Hai Han’s or a doughnut from the Depot. Even though the ride back from Anchorage took an hour, Mike never minded the wait for a friend to bring him a Wee Bee burger or pizza. He loved food! And, oatmeal cookies with raisins.
At the end of the day, his last stop was the Sportsman for a nightcap and an exchange of tall (taller and tallest) tales of the infamous Pink Mamba, scavenger hunts for parts, and to catch-up on the misadventures of locals and visitors.
October 2016, Mike returned to his home in Dana Point, California. A few months later he was diagnosed with lung cancer. After his last doctor appointment, a year-and-a-half later, where he was told there would be no more chemo treatments and Hospice would be starting, his brother, John, had to stop at a store.
As they got out of the car, Mike noticed a man wearing a military service hat with wings on it. Mike thanked him for his service to our country. He was a WWII veteran, a B-17 Tailgunner. This was the last time he was able to acknowledge a veteran. Mike’s patriotism was so strong he always stopped what he was doing to thanked veterans and active duty members for their service.
Mike passed away Monday, July 9, 2018 at home with his family. His mother, Fran, and brother, John, shared that he had a nice smile when he passed.
Michael Antone Testa was the first of five children for Antone (Tony) and Fran Testa. He was born August 23, 1954 in the Republic of Panama where his father, a U.S. Navy Lt. Commander and pilot, was stationed at the Canal Zone.
Mike’s family moved to Cary, Illinois when he was eight years old. He attended Cary Grove High School. Mike enjoyed downhill skiing, model airplanes, classic rock & roll, and muscle cars from the 60s & 70s, guns and anything airplanes. He attended trade schools for Welding Certification and A & P studies. He was an avid hunter of deer and elk. In his travels, he found Loa, Utah, a place he loved and spent a lot of time.
Mike is survived by his mother, Fran Testa; siblings Mark, Karen, John, and David; John’s wife, Andrea, and their children, Natalie and Antone; and his Aunt Rosemary – all of Dana Point, Calif; and the love of his life, Cindi Jones of Hurricane, Utah.
A Celebration of Mike’s Life will be 8:00 p.m., Thur., Aug. 23, 2018 at the Anchor Inn of Whittier. Join friends of Mike for tale telling and a toast.