Michael J. Hanley

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Michael J.

Michael J. Hanley, born in 1950 in Milwaukee, WI, passed away on February 21, 2022. He will be greatly missed by his wife of 50+ years, his daughters, his sisters and brothers, his extended family, dearest friends, and the many people he had come to know.


Per Mike’s wishes, no services will be held. He wants you to spend a few moments listening to the wind in the trees and thinking of the good times you had with him. In lieu of flowers, please consider memorials to the National Forest Foundation.


For many years, Mike ran his own business side-by-side with his wife. His passion was to design and build high-quality, one-of-a-kind furniture, using hard-to-find wood with unique grain patterns. He was more than a woodworker, he was an artist. And when he couldn’t buy that type of wood, he used his portable saw mill to cut it from a tree himself. He inspired many with this love of fine woodworking by offering classes in his shop. He designed and built every inch of his timber frame home, laboring to build it by hand with the help of family and friends while living on the land with his wife. He later went on to consult others on how to do the same. Additionally, Mike held key positions in information technology, operations and sales.


Mike was inspired by master woodworkers who lived during the Revolutionary War and fought for the freedom that we all enjoy today. He also loved to experience that freedom while riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle on any backroad that had a hill or a curve. Mike was so inspired that he wrote and published a book – Motorcycles, Planes, & Revolution – and toured the country speaking on these topics. His book was recently accepted into the permanent collection of the Library of Congress and can be checked out from the Library’s Main Reading Room in Washington, D.C.


His love of country and the freedom we enjoy inspired him to visit and climb the Statue of Liberty on July 4th, 1986 for the Statue of Liberty’s Centennial. He was in awe of the skilled shipwrights who built the 25+ tall ships that had sailed from all over the world to be in the Parade of Ships past the Statue of Liberty and into New York Harbor. Mike’s love of tall ships and the lighthouses that guided them led him to be a key member of the team of volunteers who helped build the Denis Sullivan, a recreation of a 19th century Great Lakes cargo schooner based in Milwaukee, WI.


Above all, Mike loved his family and closest friends. He cherished spending quality time with the people (and dogs) he loved. He had a profound impact on so many people and he will always be remembered for his sense of humor, love of music, artistry in wood, love of the outdoors, and unwavering love of his family.


Mike’s family wishes to extend a special thank you to the nurses, caretakers and entire staff of Aurora Zilber Hospice in Wauwatosa, WI for the special care provided to Mike and his loved ones.


To donate to the National Forest Foundation in memory of Mike, click here.


  1. Reenie March 1, 2022 at 5:01 pm - Reply

    I gave Michael a good send off – played the entire soundrack from Phantom of the Opera – very loudly to ensure he heard! In my mind I see him driving his Harley down a winding country road with a big smile on his face…forever free, happy & at peace!!!!!

  2. Andy Wittig March 1, 2022 at 8:48 pm - Reply

    Farewell uncle Mike
    May your spirit and kindness influence the growth of may great oaks to yet be sprouted. You are a master of your life and your craft. I love each day in my work with your woodworking skills and your passion for the grain. Your lessons and words guide me each day. I know that the things that you have inspired in me show in my craft as I deliver them each day to my customers. Your excellence pushes me to be better and to achieve the tightest of all tollerences. The beauty of trees and the grain of the wood speaks to me as I know it did you. Thank you for the guidance and inspiration. Know that your words have spread further than you could have imagined. When my daughters walk the woods they see “knot” but the beauty before them but they look deeper than most to look for the burl knots in the trees. For the crooked grains and the unique beauty that lies beneath them. Thank you for you wisdom and your genius. Each day I go out and I share these unique visions and talents with my employees. Shaping them into next generations of true craftsman.

    Love you Uncle Mike
    Thank you
    Thank you
    Thank you
    Love you so much!!!

  3. Clarence Carlson March 2, 2022 at 7:22 am - Reply

    I’ve known Mike for a number of years and all my memories are good. And when I think of him I get a smile on my face and in my heart. My condolences to his family and friends. Blessings to all.

  4. William James Taylor March 2, 2022 at 1:56 pm - Reply

    I have been a friend of Mike and Dee since their Cedarburg days. History introduces us to Renaissance men but one only needs to think of Mike to see a truly modern Renaissance man. Full of knowledge and caring whether the subject be nature, American history, forestry, music, art, people, or woodworking to name but a few.. I will miss your energy, friendship, and caring.

  5. Mary Turk (Chic) March 3, 2022 at 7:19 am - Reply

    The loss of a truly great man, so loved, breaks my heart. Always will remember the fun “cousin” weekends in Door County. Never be the same again. But, he will be there in our thoughts, hearts and memories! And we will laugh at the memories! And cry at the loss. But, happy he is now pain free, and in heaven with our other loved ones. Mike, we toast you with a nice glass of French red! (Promise not to put ice in it!!) Love to you all, my smpathys.. Call on me anytime.

  6. Chris March 3, 2022 at 7:44 am - Reply

    Rest in peace my brother. You surely did live life to the fullest.

  7. Kevin Schumacher March 4, 2022 at 11:32 am - Reply

    My deepest sympathies to Dee and family. Having worked with Dee at Marquette Electronics for many years I had the pleasure to visit with Mike a number of times and it was obvious that he was a wonderful person like Dee. It is obvious that he will be sorely missed. My thought and prayers go out to the family.

  8. Victoria Rios March 4, 2022 at 12:31 pm - Reply

    The entire Hanley family is very important to mine since Mike befriended my Dad at Milwaukee Tech in the late 60’s. My Dad considers Mike a brother. I’d come to regard Mike as cool uncle and in recent years, a wonderful friend as my husband and I got to spend some fun time with Mike and Dee when they’d stop in Austin or Boston on their road-trips. The visits were quick but memorable. We will miss Mike terribly but his spirit shines. I’m grateful for the visits and calls we had. Dee, we’re here for you! Sending love to you and the family.

  9. Peter Good and Jackie March 4, 2022 at 1:35 pm - Reply

    Our hearts are very sad, but the cherished memories bring us joy. Mike lived a full, productive, creative life of consequence and meaning. It was our pleasure and honor to be included in the circle of people who knew him. Peter especially holds dear the good times spent with Mike “on the road” giving seminars on woodworking.

  10. Ellen Street March 4, 2022 at 8:16 pm - Reply

    Dee and family,
    My condolences on the loss of Mike. May god lift him up and the memories of him bring you comfort during this time. My prayers are with you and your family.

  11. Joyce (Chic’s Friend) March 5, 2022 at 5:45 pm - Reply

    I was very sorry to hear about Mike. I will remember you and your family in my prayers.

  12. Jorge Rios March 14, 2022 at 7:37 pm - Reply

    With great sadness my wife and I have accepted Mike, Mike ‘s passing to obviously better life, And since we cannot be selfish we have accept that the Lord does not take what is not His. Mike was or even say is the brother that I never had. Since the first moments we met at Milwaukee Technical College, Mike and I were already close friends, and if our relation hadn’t been enough, Mike brought me to live with his family until my wife arrived to the states from Colombia. As the Bible says when you find a loyal friend you found a treasure, as I consider our relationship was a treasure.. it was very hard for my wife and I when we first heard of Mike s health fatal condition, but as we talked to him and his wife we could always expect a turn to the best, as we also offered our prayers in his regard.. As I told his wife, Mike and I used to tease each other a lot, and deep in my heart I know Mike and I will tease each other again. So long for now buddy, I will see you sometime. Jorge y Ligia

  13. Pete & Patty Stiles March 19, 2022 at 2:16 pm - Reply


    Mike made the most unique, stunningly beautiful furniture for our Chicago condo. We still treasure them in our current condo in Florida, where they are noticed and appreciated by everyone who visits us. His creativity and craftsmanship are remarkable and unmatched. We are blessed to have known Mike and pray he may dwell in peace in God’s eternal Kingdom of Light.

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