Michael Anthony DeFea, 61, of Ft. Pierre, SD, died Saturday, November 16, 2019 in Pierre while in hospice care after a long fight with cancer.
Michael was born January 27, 1958, in St. Paul, MN, and was adopted as an infant by Jack and Rose (Petriella) DeFea. The family lived in Milbank, SD, until 1966 where Michael spent time running the projector and assisting with the family-owned movie theater after school and on the weekends.
The family relocated to Rapid City, SD, in 1966 where Jack had been promoted during his insurance career. Michael was an altar boy at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and attended the catholic grade school. He completed 9th grade at South Junior High and attended Rapid City Central High School, graduating in 1976. Michael was a cub scout and enjoyed playing football and baseball.
After high school, Michael backpacked and traveled across the United States. Throughout his life, he lived in Phoenix, AZ, Denver, CO, Rapid City and the Pierre, SD, area.
Michael attended NDSCS in Wahpeton, ND and graduated in 1983 with a degree in Associate of Applied Science, Diesel Mechanics. He was accepted into the South Dakota School of Mines in Rapid City in 1993, and had to put his education on hold after being diagnosed with colon cancer. Michael completed school in 2004, earning a Bachelor of Science in Geological Engineering.
Michael worked various jobs over the course of his career including laborer, diesel mechanic and fleet mechanic in Rapid City. In 2004, Michael went to work for the SD Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Pierre where he worked until retirement due to illness in 2018.
In 2006, he was united with his daughter Kara, who had been lovingly given up for adoption in 1976 and they have shared a special bond since.
Michael’s hobbies included hunting geese, pheasant, turkey and deer, and fishing. He enjoyed vintage automobiles, collecting stamps, was an avid coin collector and liked to play Texas Hold ‘Em.
Michael’s favorite things in life were anything related to Notre Dame, his 1970 Stingray Corvette, his family, his grandson, Italian food (especially his mom’s lasagna, spaghetti sauce, and biscotti), and chocolate.
He is survived by his daughter Kara (Eric) Duven and grandchildren Ramsey and Connor of Aberdeen, SD; his sister Lisa (Lyle) Magorien of Ft. Pierre; nieces Danielle (Luke) Kaiser, Piper and Kellen of Sioux Falls and Shelby (Kyle) Klusman and Payton of Pierre.
He was preceded in death by his parents Michael P. “Jack” and Rose DeFea; his grandparents, aunts, uncles and other beloved family.
Michael said that he had a very good life and was grateful for the visits from cherished friends and family, especially towards the end of his life.
Visitation will be from 5:00pm until 5:30pm on Thursday, November 21, 2019 at Saint John’s Catholic Church in Fort Pierre with a prayer service beginning at 5:30pm. Mass of Christian Burial will be at 1:00pm on Friday, November 22, 2019 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Rapid City, SD. Interment will follow at Mount Calvary Cemetery in Rapid City. Memorials will be sent to Mike’s favorite local and national charities. Online condolences may be written at: www.isburgfuneralchapels.com.