Obituary of Michael L. Obinger
Michael L. Obinger
On July 8, 2023 we lost our beloved friend Mike at the age of 74. Mike lived the life he’d always imagined for himself --- in the ministry, embracing the country life, and working to better life for many through his work at nonprofits and in politics.
Born to Edward and Ruby S. (Lekander) Obinger in 1949 in the Minneapolis area, Mike got an early taste for the farm life and love of animals through his grandparents. He stayed in Minnesota for many years, where he attended Augsburg University and earned a Master of Divinity at Northwestern Lutheran Seminary in St. Paul, where he was ordained in 1976. Mike’s idea of a life of service was broad and he moved to the Milwaukee area in the mid 1980’s to serve in a pastoral position. He made his home in Milwaukee for many years and over decades worked at nonprofits such as the Social Development Commission, Hunger Task Force of Milwaukee, Wisconsin AIDS Project, and the Hope House. Mike also was staff to US Congressman Gerald Kleczka.
In 1987 Mike found his church home as pastor for The Community of Christ the Servant church, (CCS) in Whitewater, an interdenominational church founded in 1971. By chance Mike had seen the classified ad and out of curiosity decided to go for a trial sermon, and ended up staying the rest of his life. He served the CCS congregation as principal minister for over 35 years, longer than any past or current minister in Whitewater. Mike also performed countless and beautiful wedding, baptism and funeral services for friends and others throughout Wisconsin.
In 1996 another of Mike’s life goals was realized when after worship he saw a for sale sign in rural Whitewater on a Victorian house in need of restoration. He bought the house and 10 acres of land and moved to La Grange, naming his property Rag Apple Farm. Over many years and mostly on his own, Mike worked to completely renovate the house, restoring its original Victorian features and beauty, and eventually adding a barn. He had extraordinary talent in carpentry, electrical, plumbing and remodeling projects. Many special gatherings with friends and congregants were held over the years at Rag Apple. Mike often commented that he considered his house and acres, with his dogs and horses, to be the ideal place to live. When asked if his life turned out as he thought it would, he responded that it was “even better” than what he’d envisioned.
Mike was an avid Springer Spaniel devotee and was the loving companion to Crackers, Crumbs, Jack, Jake, Mack, Gauge, Maggie, and Buster. He also loved caring for his two horses, Maddie and Rocket.
Mike is survived by many long-time friends throughout SE Wisconsin, his sister Barbara (Richard) Towler, brother Thomas (Cheryl) Obinger, niece Amy (Matt) Thomas (Ben and Grace), nephews Rick (Michele) Towler (Char and Gabe), Adam (Soni) Obinger (Layla and Devon) and other family.
We love you, Mike, Miguel, Obinger. You’ll always live in our hearts!
The congregants of The Community of Christ the Servant will host a Memorial Service at the First United Methodist Church, 145 S Prairie St, Whitewater WI. The gathering is 11 am on Saturday, August 5, 2023.
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