Michael E. Bonn, age 57 of Durand, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, February 17, 2021 at the Mayo Clinic Health Systems-Eau Claire surrounded by his family singing “Your Song”.
Mike was born on August 4, 1963 in Chippewa Falls. He was the son of Edward E. and Carol A. (Saxe) Bonn. Mike grew up on the family farm in Lake Holcombe where hard work was a part of life. He started his music at a young age with his “ya-ya”. In seventh grade, Mike started playing drums in the polka band, Kevin’s Kountry Kousins. While in high school, Mike played for a polka band named, Schultzies Toe Teasers. Mike received a scholarship to go to Mount Scenario college in Ladysmith, where he received two BS degrees in music. While in college, he was involved with all vocal and instrumental ensembles he could be a part of. Mike also became a member of the Free Beer Quartet in 1983 and later a drummer in the Back Stage band.
After college, Mike became a substitute teacher for the area and was a junior high basketball coach. He soon joined the Johnny Lynn Show as a keyboard player and a vocalist from 1986-1988. While traveling with the Johnny Lynn Show, Mike met country stars such as Johnny Paycheck, Bobby Bear, Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn and Tom T. Hall. Mike’s last gig with Johnny was being the house band for Loretta Lynn’s daughter, Betty Sue in Conover.
Mike then joined the rock and roll variety band, Hit and Run, based out of Eau Claire. He and Terry Smith also developed a duo band called BS, representing Bonn and Smith. Mike began his music teaching career during that time in 1991 in Plum City.
In 1990 Mike fell in love and married the love of his life, Kristin Stelzig on June 5, 1993 on thier pontoon on Lake Holcombe. At that time, Mike was playing in the band, teaching music full-time and coaching boy’s junior high basketball in Plum City. In 1995, Mike and Kris received the news of their first child, so Mike opted out of the band life. They were blessed with their beautiful daughter, Kayla in 1996 and in 1998, they were blessed again with a beautiful son, Michael. In 1998 Mike received his instrumental music degree from Northland College in Ashland. In 2000 he received his master’s degree in music from UW-River Falls.
In 2010 his college quartet, Free Beer was called to audition for the show, America’s Got Talent. After their audition, they were selected to go to Los Angeles, CA to sing on the show. Now reunited, the quartet decided to stay together and they sang for many venues in Wisconsin, including fairs, Mardi Gras’ and care facilities. One of their favorite venues was singing the National Anthem in Miller Park for the Milwaukee Brewers, which they enjoyed singing there on five different occasions.
Mike was a big Brewers and Packers fan. He was an avid hunter and fisherman. He was a loving and humorous man that impacted many lives. Most of all, Mike loved spending time with his family and friends.
On August 3, 2018, Mike had to retire from his music career in Plum City due to his ALS (Lou Gerhig’s Disease) diagnosis. He taught music for 27 years, all in Plum City. Mike had a passion of sharing his love of music with his students.
Mike’s motto throughout his life was, “Go through Life with a smile on your face and song in your heart.”
Mike is survived by his wife, Kristin; daughter Kayla (fiancé Eli) Bonn; son Michael K.; his mother; Carol Bonn; sisters Barb (Sean) O’Halloran, Jane (Ken) Ash and Traci (Frank) Cynor; brother Tim, many nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends. He is preceded in death by his father Bud Bonn; brother Darrel in infancy and a sister-in-law Sheila Bonn.
The family would like to thank the communities of Plum City and Durand for their unending support throughout Mike’s battle with ALS.
Funeral Services will be 1:00PM Wednesday, February 24, 2021 at the First Presbyterian Church in Cornell with Rev. Bev Thompson officiating. Burial will be in the Cornell Cemetery. Visitation will be 4:00PM-8:00PM Tuesday at the Rhiel Funeral Home in Durand and from 11:00AM until time of services at the church on Wednesday. The funeral will be live-streamed on the Rhiel Funeral Home Facebook page as well, https://www.facebook.com/rhielfuneralhome.
Rhiel Funeral Home & Cremation Services, Durand, is serving the family.