MICHAEL STUART ROOT passed away peacefully on November 22, 2020 after courageously living with Primary Progressive Aphasia, a rare form of Dementia. He was surrounded by his wife and children at the family home in Seattle, WA. His quick wit, welcoming embrace, smile and charm that could melt ice will be missed by many.
Mike was born on October 21, 1944, the eighth and final child of Cecelia Alice (Murphy) Root and Stuart Joseph Root in Waseca, Minnesota. He arrived 9 years after the next sibling in line. Mike lost his father to cancer when he was 14 and was then raised by his widowed mother, who was also caring for his much older sister with Cerebral Palsy. Some powerful male influences as a maturing teenager included his Dad’s former poker buddies who invited Mike to the table. As Mike neared highschool graduation he knew that he may be called to the escalating war in Vietnam - either by draft or by choice. He joined ROTC at St. John’s University in Minnesota and eventually arrived in the jungles of Vietnam with an officer’s commission. He became a highly decorated infantry Platoon Leader serving in 1967 and 1968, some of the most brutal years of the Vietnam conflict, which greatly impacted his outlook on life.
Mike married Roberta Brown of Waseca in 1967 and in 1969 they moved to Washington State where three of his older siblings resided. They had three children, Nathaniel, Adam and Elisabeth. They divorced in 1981. Mike was a devoted father who created memories that will live on through his children, including the July 4th beach fireworks tradition on Whidbey Island, annual duck hunting trips, river float trips, and elaborate Easter and Christmas mornings. The kids shared their time between the two separate homes of their parents which were only a few miles apart.
Mike spent the majority of his career as an Institutional Investor for Merrill Lynch in Seattle. His work often took him to NYC and on one of those flights he met Susie Detmer and they built a life together that blended their families. Susie’s daughter Christa became a daughter to Mike and she finally had the siblings she’d been after her mother to provide.
He had a wicked sense of humor and a beautiful outlook on life. Through his “Dadisms” Mike’s kids learned: to be firm but fair, you can’t love someone until you love yourself, every day’s a gift, to have friends you need to be a friend, and good luck is where preparation meets opportunity. “Are we having fun yet?” was one of his favorites, which he’d offer even in the middle of family chaos. Another was “Do you have to or do you get to?” and with this he taught the power of gratitude. He was a generous father and yet taught his kids the value of hard work; if you want nice things you’d better work hard for them and you show up every day no matter how difficult.
His heart ached for his lost Vietnam comrades every single day of his life. When asked how he became so successful in business at such an early age he would dryly reply, “it was easy, nobody was shooting at me.” The family believes there is a strong connection between his disease and his service in Vietnam. Memorials can be made in his name, 1LT Michael Root, to the Wounded Warrior Project.
This disease robbed Mike of his outgoing personality and his gift of gab, first attacking his ability to speak, a cruel blow to a man like Mike. He adored Susie, his kids, playing golf, Whidbey Island, dancing at The Little Red Hen, winters in Palm Springs, his grandkids and so many dear friends and family. He is survived by the love of his life, Susie Detmer, his 4 children Nathaniel (Nicole), Adam, Elisabeth (Rian) and Christa (Scott), his 9 Grandchildren: Dominic, Sophia; Atticus, Cadence, Reina, Gabriel; Tulia, Misha; Jack; two sisters Marlene and Gennelle (Larry) and many nieces, nephews and godchildren.
It was a rare sunny Seattle November day when Mike was relieved of his suffering. The next morning it was raining. Susie told the kids that the universe was weeping.
When COVID is over and festive gatherings are again allowed, there will be a Celebration of Mike’s life following Military Honors at Evergreen Washelli in Seattle.