Michael Wayne Watkins was born on February 27, 1944, and was adopted by Virgil and Helen Watkins when he was six months old. Upon graduation, he married and was father to four children, Michael, Shelly, and twin daughters, Shawna and Sherry. On October 28, 1996, he married Danielle Saylor and became stepfather to her children, Penny and Brian. He was grandfather to seven grandchildren, Michael, Ashley, Kelsey, Christopher, Jeremy, Trinity, and Hunter. In 1986, he was named Father of the Year at his daughter Shawna’s high school because of his tireless efforts to take her for her radiation treatments and for always staying up after his third shift job to take his children to the doctor or dentist and any extra-curricular activities. Mike was a devoted husband, father, and grandfather.
Early on in life he wanted to be a fireman, and he started volunteering as a teenager while still in high school. Through the years, he attained the rank of captain at the Talbott Volunteer Fire Department in rural Manito, Illinois. He was employed by Central Illinois Light Company doing mechanical maintenance until his retirement in 2004. In 2014, he and his wife, Danielle, moved to Mountain Home, Arkansas, and he continued his volunteer work with North East Lakeside Fire and Rescue as the tanker driver.
Mike loved fishing, shopping, camping, and computers. He started his own business repairing computers, making slideshows with music from pictures, and transferring videos and records and cassette tapes to DVDs and CDs. If his friends were having computer problems or wanted something transferred, he was always there to help them. He also was a greeter at church and volunteered with the Summer Feeding program providing food to families who otherwise might not have any.
On April 21, 2019 (Easter Sunday), Mike got a fire call. When he left home that afternoon, he said he would be home as soon as he could. The first one to arrive at the department after Mike was the assistant chief, who found him slumped over the steering wheel of the tanker. He did CPR and revived him. Mike died three days later on April 24, 2019. He will be forever missed by his wife, children, grandchildren, and his many friends.