Mike Rule

WHITEWATER — Michael Rule, 61, of Whitewater, was both a man of nature and force of nature, who lost his battle with ALS on Thursday, June 11, 2020.

Mike was born on March 15, 1959, to Donald and Frances Rule in Chicago. He was raised in Racine and graduated from J.I. Case High School.

Mike attended Winona State University and later earned his master of arts in Recreation Administration from Washington State University.

Mike’s passion in life was the outdoors, which garnered him the nickname “Mountain Mike.” He spent most of his career at Phantom Lake YMCA Camp in Mukwonago, where his gentle leadership influenced the lives of campers and staffers for decades.

In the ’70s he was a counselor and tripping director, in the ’80s he was the program director and in the ’90s he became the camp director and associate director. He also was the camp director at Bluff Lake YMCA Camp in Big Bear, Calif., and YMCA Camp Benson in Mount Carroll, Ill.

Mike later returned to Phantom Lake as executive director and finished his career at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Mike had a kind and humble nature, a warm smile and a clever sense of humor. He was creative, playful, adventurous and had the gift of making everyone feel important.

He loved sports, puns, filmmaking and telling a great campfire story. He loved Racine pizza and banana splits.

He listened. He inspired all through his belief in them, his guidance, his loyalty, his example and his sense of wonder. His legacy is to remind us that one good person makes a genuine difference in every life they touch.

Mike shared his life and adventures with his loving wife of 23 years, Jenny (Brightbill) Rule. He was a passionate and dedicated father to their two sons, Luke, 18, and Josh, 16. They spent many sojourns together hiking, biking, camping, kayaking and canoeing.

Mike also coached and supported the boys through a variety of sports and was the self-appointed, wildly enthusiastic, statistician for their soccer teams.

Mike also is survived by his siblings, Joe (Rhonda) of Phoenix, Ariz., and Dona of Chandler, Ariz.; beloved nieces and nephews, and other treasured relatives. His love for them was steadfast and true.

He was preceded in death by his parents; and his brothers, Bill and Scott.

Mike will be laid to rest at Hillside Cemetery in Whitewater in a small family ceremony.

A celebration of Mike’s life will take place at a later, safer date. Please see www.olsen-gibson.com for updated memorial information.

With deep appreciation, the family thanks the staff of Agrace Hospice and the ALS Association of Wisconsin for their kindness, compassion and unyielding support.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that you go paddle a canoe, jump in a lake or find any other way to enjoy nature.

If you absolutely must find a way to donate in Mike’s name, Jenny has created the Mountain Mike Memorial Fund. Donations will be used to put Aldo Leopold benches in beautiful places, fulfill camp wish lists and send kids to camp.

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