Michael Lankowicz, 20, of Bemidji, MN died Monday, March 13, 2023.
Memorial services will be 2:00 p.m., Friday, May 26, 2023 at Olson-Schwartz Funeral Home. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service at the funeral home.
Memorial services will also be held 2:00 p.m., Friday, June 16, 2023 at First Lutheran Church, Stephen, MN. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service at the church.
Michael Andrew Lankowicz was called to heaven on March 13, 2023. Michael was born on November 6th 2002 at Flowers Hospital in Dothan, Alabama. He was an only child, the son of Andrew and Anita (Eftefield) Lankowicz. Michael was born into a military family. His parents both served in the US Army. Michael was baptized at St. Columba Catholic Church in Dothan where he was welcomed by dear friends and family, as well as godparents Joerg & Brigitta Schaeuble. Shortly after he turned three, his dad was selected for a RAND Corporation Fellowship in Santa Monica, California. This was a wonderful time for our family. We have many beautiful photos and memories of our time in California. Mike loved to play in the tide pools and go to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach and ride the Red Car streetcars near the waterfront every Sunday. This is where his young and free spirit lives in forever in our hearts and minds.
When his dad was deployed to Iraq in 2006, Michael & his mom lived with his grandparents Larry & Juanita Eftefield in Edelstein, Illinois. Michael loved the Montessori school in Peoria. There are countless memories of birthday parties, play dates, and enjoying time with his maternal grandparents. Over the years he spent many hours with his cousins Holt & Olivia Eftefield and of course ‘The Roe Boys’ (Walker, Hayden, Jake, and Charlie). Michael was also able to spend precious time with his paternal grandparents Fran & Tony Lankowicz and countless Lankowicz cousins on Long Island. It was there where we had a big welcome home party when Andy got back from his yearlong deployment.
Michael spent his first years of elementary school in Heidelberg, Germany starting in 2008. He received his first Holy Communion at Mark Twain Village Chapel. Michael was in Cub Scouts and played baseball and basketball. He enjoyed going on Volksmarches with his mom, dad, and our family dog Tess. He had so much fun just being a kid. He was fortunate to visit his Roe cousins regularly during this time when they were living in Lugano, Switzerland. It was there he learned to ski and snowboard. These were activities he enjoyed the most. He loved being one with the mountain. He felt free there. We have precious memories of our family travels together in Europe.
In 2011 our family returned back to the United States where Michael continued his elementary and early middle school education in Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York. Michael learned the game of lacrosse, playing for the Hudson Valley League. He also played youth hockey at West Point. It was there he met his good friend Patrick. Mike had a bright personality. His smile would light up the room. He was so much fun to be around.
In August of 2015, shortly after his dad retired from the Army after 27 years of service, the family moved to Devils Lake, North Dakota. Andy took a position as President of Mercy Hospital. We left the security of our military family and took a leap of faith into the unknown where Michael spent his middle and early high school years. In 8th grade he received the Sacrament of Confirmation at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, supported by his sponsors Dan and Patricia Traynor. He really enjoyed playing with the Traynor kids and their pets. Michael was entertaining and could get along anywhere. He loved going to Teresa and Jason Fewell’s farm in Dazey, ND. That is where he picked out Cookie, our beloved Collie. In 2018 our family took a trip to Korea where his parents were stationed in the Army from 1989 to 1991 to enjoy the Winter Olympics. One vivid memory of that trip was going to a ‘Puppy Café’ in Seoul that Michael found on line where we enjoyed Korean beverages while we were entertained by the dogs who resided there. During his time in North Dakota, Michael and his mom and dad made many trips to Montana and Wyoming. His favorite place to visit was Yellowstone National Park. He truly loved the mountain west.
High school proved to be a challenging transition for Michael. We had no idea how difficult the challenges teenagers face in today’s world. In addition to playing ice hockey Michael tried cross country running where he was very fast and had great potential. His true love though was playing lacrosse for a Grand Forks travel team. Michael was gifted with a wonderful singing voice and joined the Devils Lake High School Choir on a memorable concert trip to Minot, North Dakota.
Michael graduated from Community High School in Grand Forks, ND in May of 2021. The potential Michael couldn’t see in himself, his principal Mr. Bohan did. He was supported there. They didn’t give up on him and so he didn’t give up on himself.
Michael loved and was loved by all whose life he touched. He truly lived a full life in 20 years. He had a generous heart, a pure soul, and a captivating personality. Tragically, he was a victim of the fentanyl epidemic. He lost his life to the disease of addiction. He recently completed treatment at Betty-Ford Hazelden in Plymouth, MN. He wanted to beat this killer drug. He was on the road to recovery. His death was a deep shock for our family and friends. We do not want to sanitize his death. What happened to him and countless other precious souls and their families is a national disgrace.
Michael was an eye and tissue donor. Even in death he kept on giving, so other could have a better quality of life. We want to thank all the doctors, counselors, therapists and social workers who worked closely with Michael and our family over the last few years. Michael’s promise of salvation was fulfilled sooner than anyone anticipated. We are comforted that now he is now free of his earthly burdens and is with our Heavenly Father. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ gave him the eternal life we are all promised and reunited him with his Grandpa Tony and Grandma Fran in heaven.
In addition to his mother and father, Michael is survived by his maternal Grandfather Larry Gene Eftefield and Juanita Louise (Johnson) Eftefield of Edelstein, IL and Stephen, MN Relatives include his mother's brother Arlynn and (Sarah) Eftefield and mother's sister Dianna and (Scott) Roe. He is the grandson of his father's parents, the late Anthony and Frances Lankowicz and seven sons and a daughter Paul and (Ann) Lankowicz, James and (Danielle) Lankowicz, Matthew and (Doreen) Lankowicz, John and (Genevieve) Lankowicz, Peter and (Donna) Lankowicz, Thomas and (Eileen) Lankowicz, and Anne and (Chris) Picken. He is survived by 22 first cousins: Lauren, Kyle, Liam, Erin, Kristie, Collette, Kevin, Samantha, Katie, Corinne, Allison, Jack, Megan, Anthony, Alexia, Rileigh, Holt, Olivia, Walker, Hayden, Jake, and Charlie.
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