Obituary of Michael Kilby: My dad
Written by his daughter
As a man who was generally uninterested in fanfare, and, therefore, likely indifferent to having an obituary written for him, it is our great honour to purposely aggravate our father this final time.
Born in Biloxi, Mississippi on January 28th, 1961, Michael James Kilby (Mike) passed away peacefully, attended by family, on July 5th 2019 around the time he was usually rising to make the hour’s drive to his automotive and RV repair shop. We like to think it was just dad getting back to his decades-long routine—after all, the man had “shit to do”.
Dad’s passing marks the end of a very sudden and courageous fight with aggressively metastasized colon cancer. We are so thankful that he is out of pain, while also grieving that, at the age of 58, he has left us far too soon.
A giant in his community and a friend to many he was widely known for his skill as a mechanic. It could be said that he showed his passion for vehicles at a very young age, as he’d frequently escape his babysitting aunts and return back with the interesting contents of neighbours’ cars. His first interaction with an engine was at 14 when he took apart his family’s new lawn mower. When found to have spread small engine parts throughout the backyard, his father, John, only told him to make certain he put all the pieces back where he’d found them—which he did, minus a few extra bolts tossed amongst the tall grass and blackflies of Moosenee, Ont.
From that first lawn mower, dad spent his high school years pumping gas and continuing to disassemble and re-make engines, all with an expanding skillset. As he moved into his 20s, he began racing Austin Minis and Honda Civics. At motorsport tracks like Tremblant and Mosport, he found a second family amongst teammates and opponents alike. For years he was widely known as the man who brought a spare of everything to the track as he was destined to destroy something through living his mantra: “drive it like you stole it”. As children, we remember watching him pass cars on the outside of a corner, on three wheels, and playing in our Richmond, Ont. basement whose walls were overwhelmed with trophies.
In 1982 dad put down roots in Richmond with his basset hound Molson, named for both owner and dog’s beverage of choice. He set to building a career as a mechanic leading to the start of Mike’s Service Centre in 1984 at the mere age of 23.
A lot like fixing the lawn mower, when it came to managing a shop of his own dad figured it out as he went, building a technician team and client base. His skillset evolved from only fixing mechanical issues to include repairing most anything encompassed within RVs, trailers and boats. Years later, after Mike’s Service Centre, he returned to Richmond with his mobile RV repair business, Mike’s RV & Marine, which we will continues to run in his memory.
In 1995 and 1999 dad was blessed with two great kids, who he took on endless weekend boating excursions to the 1000 Islands with our mother, Anne. Our parents navigated years of bandit raccoons sneaking through our boat’s windows and the traditional—and expected—sacrificial walk around the boat exterior to collect all potential spider webs and their occupants. Our dad once even took us tubing off the back of our 30 foot houseboat, leaving behind a massive wake and scores of disbelieving bystanders.
Over the years, our father gleefully earned the status of master prankster, to the extent that everyone knew retaliation was futile due to the escalated nature sure to descend when one least expected it. He was a talented storyteller, always capable of eliciting fits of laughter and had nicknames for nearly everyone he met, some of the most notorious being “Stringbean”, “Mowgli”, “Two Brick” and “Dundee”.
Dad has been laid to rest in his usual attire: his royal blue Mike’s RV & Marine shirt, navy cargo shorts and his infamous Velcro sandals that had their soles reattached lovingly with generous amounts of PL Premium.
Dad is survived by his children, Hannah and Dale Kilby (our mother Annette Matlar), his parents John and Pierette Kilby, his sister and brother-in-law Patti and Kent Graham, his sister and bother-in-law Kathy and Daniel Lebreux, his nephews and niece, Sean, Brett and Brooke Molnar (their father Gary Molnar), his nephew and niece, Kevin Lebreux and Shannon Lebreux, his dear aunts, Pat, Lisa, Joanne and Susie and his extended Pruneau-Kilby family. Mike will be remembered by many, many more.
We hope that where he is now he can continue his atrocious, year-round sandal tan and spends his days working on the old trucks of his youth. We know there’s a tall boy beverage near at hand, Chez 106 is playing in the background, Molson is snoring nearby and, when it gets hot he can flop into the lake wearing his Elmer Fudd hat and watch the sun set across the water from the deck of his beloved Newboro home.
We love you dad.