Michael (Mike) Munsell was a kind soul who lit up a room with his smile and always made you feel special, especially when he gave you a sideways hug. He was a wanderlust who travelled the world but also loved spending time with his family and friends. Mike passed away unexpectedly, May 1, 2020.
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Michael John Thomas Munsell was born October 22, 1981 in Billings, MT. He was the middle child of Neil and Carolyn Munsell. He attended Trinity Lutheran Schools and was a graduate of Billings West High School. He attended college at MSU-Bozeman, University of Montana, MSU-Billings and Bismarck State College.
Mike had an entrepreneurial spirit very early on with his first Lemonade & Cookies stand at the age of 8 years old. He continued to explore several other business ideas while attending college, and with his creative mind he was always thinking of ways to fill a need. It was at college that he was introduced to kava, an herbal supplement/root extract used as a relaxation drink and started buying kava and making kava drinks. This hobby would lead to a business opportunity later in life. After completing a bachelor’s degree in Energy Management and Systems Technology at Bismarck State College, Mike pursued an initial career in the energy sector with ConocoPhillips where he worked for 12 years.
Mike shared a love of the outdoors and the joy of fishing with his sister Jen. Camping, hiking, skiing with Jen and their friends forged a strong bond between them. Despite being in different places in the world, they remained close by messaging and Skyping several times a week.
He referred to his older brother Chad as one of the purest human beings he knew. He loved and helped care for Chad throughout his life which evolved into a compassion for people and children with special needs. He worked with the residents and staff of the Special K Ranch to help develop work skills in packaging products for his company.
Mike was also a die-hard Green Bay Packers fan, a passion he shared with his dad. He was an avid gun collector and loved time on the shooting range with his dad. He was very proud of the home he built alongside his dad and sister. He shared his enjoyment of computer technology, landscaping and working outdoors with his mom.
In 2009, met Tiffani Fehlmann and they were engaged in the Edinburgh Castle in Scotland and married 09-10-11. The date was selected with great care by Mike. Mike met his match with an avid travel partner, and they traveled extensively. One of Mike’s happiest memories of vacationing with Tiffani was a trip to Fiji. There, together, they got to experience drinking kava in a traditional setting.
He developed a special bond with Tiffani’s family and traveled with her grandparents on several occasions. Switzerland held special meaning after a trip with her grandmother. There are many special memories of holidays, card games, and playing with the kids. Their dogs, Eddie and Allie, were also part of the family. His dog Eddie also held a special place in his heart, and both looked forward to their sunset walks.
In 2010, Mike launched Monsoon Beverages LLC and Kalm with Kava. In 2016, he took the brave step to leave his job and work full-time on growing Kalm with Kava into a thriving, global business. A successful entrepreneur, Mike was always generous with his time and knowledge. He was a sought-after expert on kava, highly respected in the kava community, in the U.S and abroad. He made frequent trips to the South Pacific to meet with the family farmers and communities growing kava for him. He helped villages on the islands install electrical and plumbing lines, construct schools, and supported disaster relief efforts following cyclones on many occasions. In Vanuatu after a cyclone devastated the islands, he arranged for multiple cases of LifeStraw personal water filter bottles to help the residents obtain clean drinking water.
Mike adored his nephews, Levi and Rueben Taylor, and was delighted when he was able to spend time with them and his sister, Jen. Uncle Mike created exciting adventures for them, and they would all collapse after a day at the trampoline park or water slide, but Mike’s eyes lit up when they began planning the next day’s adventures. He had a special mentoring relationship with his nephew, Myles Fehlmann, who loved to shop with Mike so he could pick out shoes just like his.
He was baptized into the family of God at Trinity Lutheran Church where he remained as a member and his strong faith was an important part of his life. Mike always put people and relationships first. Most important of all, was his family.
Mike is survived by his wife, Tiffani; parents Neil and Carolyn Munsell; sister Jennifer (Brent) Taylor, and nephews Levi and Rueben, grandparents, Rueben and Lucille Kolpack and many aunt, uncles, cousins, loving in-laws, and his special Aunt Alyson Mike. His brother, Chad, grandparents, JK and Becky Munsell, and Grammy Gillian Mike, preceded him in death.
A celebration of Mike’s life will be held in early summer with details to be announced later. Donations in Mike’s memory can be made to EagleMount in Billings or the Special K Ranch in Columbus, both causes he cared about greatly.
One of Mike’s favorite Bible verses was Romans 8:38-39 “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Mike highlighted this text in his daily devotional: “God is love. God is total, unconditional, extreme, incomprehensible, self-sacrificing cosmic love for us… the greatest love we can or will ever know…. If you were the only person in the world, He still would have given His life for you.”
Mike is onto a new journey sharing his laughter and warmth and yet will be missed by those of us left behind.