Ernest Michael Louis, Jr (’51)

On April 29, 2023, Ernest Michael Louis passed from this world. Mike was born on April 11, 1927, in Washington, DC, to Ernest M. and Enola Chew Louis. In 1933, the family moved to Gallup and then Mescalero, NM. Mike spent his youth in Mescalero and spent summers at “the ranch” of an uncle at Pool Creek, land currently encompassed by Dinosaur National Monument in Utah and Colorado. He moved with his mother and stepfather, Neil Burdick, to Eureka, CA, where he finished high school and graduated early to join the Navy. Mike became an Aviation Storekeeper Third Class, spending much of his service time during and after World War II in Hawaii before he was honorably discharged. He earned a BS in Journalism at the University of Houston, which sparked an interest in police work, which led to employment as a police officer in Houston, TX and Albuquerque, NM.

In 1959, Mike married Kathleen (Kac) Cunniff. They raised five children in Albuquerque and Crystal Lake, IL. While his family was growing, Mike earned an MA in Public Administration from the University of New Mexico and in 1971 accepted a position teaching criminal justice at Harper College in Palatine, IL. Mike and Kac returned to New Mexico where he worked in emergency management for the state until retirement. Later, Mike and Kac moved to Kac’s home state of Minnesota and then to Illinois near their son’s family, who welcomed Mike into their community while enabling him to live and travel independently after Kac’s death.

Mike had many interests throughout his life, chief among them was flying. In Albuquerque, the Louis house was a bit odd in that it had an airplane parked in the back yard. That Luscombe flew again after the move to Illinois and his flying continued into his 80s, earning him membership in the United Flying Octogenarians (UFOs). Always expanding his skills, Mike also worked as a surveyor, created a home dark room for his photography, took classes in pottery-making, ballet and aerobics, studied ham radio and the Apache language, and learned to stitch leather for his airplane seats. He was an early adopter of home computers and learned video editing to volunteer at the local PBS station. Mike built additions on two of their homes, once with the assistance of Goofus, a roadrunner who would ride the wheelbarrow to inspect progress. And, if you were lucky enough to eat Luisi spaghetti and Santa Fe style enchiladas prepared by Mike, you were lucky, indeed.

Mike adopted his mother’s passion for genealogy, traveling around the U.S., Canada, and France in pursuit of his roots. Kac and Mike were great road trippers and their wanderlust never faded. Mike was always at home at “the ranch” which changed from Pool Creek, as a child, to another uncle’s ranch near Jensen, UT. He returned there, yearly, into his 90s, to help with spring lambing, and his heart will remain there forever.

Mike was predeceased by his wife; parents; brother, Neal Burdick; brothers-in-law, John (Lois) Cunniff and Gerald (Eleanor) Cunniff; sister-in-law, Jeanne (Roger) Kuchera; and sons-in-law, David Dolan and Conard (Mac) McCarley. He is survived by his brothers David Burdick and Patrick (Karen) Burdick; daughters, Mary Dolan, Margaret Louis, Tracy Slavin, Suzanne McCarley; son, Michael (Sandra) Louis; seven grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

A memorial service with military honors will be held at Santa Fe National Cemetery, NM, on a date yet to be determined. Memorial donations may be made to the Mayo Clinic,

E. Michael Louis Born: April 11, 1927 in Washington , DC
Died: April 29, 2023 in St. Louis , MO

Published by Legacy Remembers from May 1 to May 4, 2023.

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