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SAKATCH, Francis Michael

With heavy hearts we announce that our beloved husband, father, brother, and friend Francis Michael Sakatch passed away the morning of Friday, August 2, 2019.

Mike was the only son of Francis and Doris Sakatch, and step son of William Maier, born September 12, 1955 in Lethbridge, Alberta. Mike spent his childhood and adolescent years in Vauxhall and Taber and moved to Spokane, Washington in 1973 to complete high school at Ferris. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Education from Eastern Washington University, Cheney, Washington in 1977. Mike returned to Calgary in 1978 to begin his teaching career with the Calgary Board of Education where he taught at Lord Beaverbrook High School for thirty-eight years.

Mike is survived by his wife and soul mate of thirty-five years Joan, cherished sons, Matthew and James; sisters, Brenda Steele, Jean Valgardson (Gordon), and Pat Heitman-Wanner (Dick); father-in-law Philip Jeal (Betty), brothers-in-laws Norman Jeal (Diane), Ivan Mann (Darlene) nieces and nephews, Kevin and Scott Jeal, Darrell and Karen Mann, Dr. Steven Heitman (Nili), Dr. Lee-Ann Hawkins (Wade), Jon(Roxanne), Jordan (Vanessa), Jason(Carmen), Mike Valgardson, Paula, Jan (Thierry), and Dr. Jackie (Mits) Steele; and his special Spokane family Ron and Rosie Wildey, Kathy Ann, Bruce and Christine.
A Westwinds concert celebrating Mike’s career in music education will be held at Lord Beaverbrook High School, (9019 Fairmount Drive S.E. Calgary, AB) on Saturday, August 17th, 2019, at 2:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers Mike requested donations may be made to the Calgary Humane Society, www.calgaryhumane.ca. Condolences may be forwarded through www.McInnisandHolloway.com.

In living memory of Mike Sakatch, a tree will be planted at Fish Creek Provincial Park by McINNIS & HOLLOWAY FUNERAL HOMES.

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Condolence Messages

  1. Sonja/Keith Kozak

    Our thoughts will always be with Mike and his absolutely endless contributions in music. We are so grateful for the opportunity to have known Mike. He gave the ultimate inspiration to our sons, Chris and Dustin, to enjoy and appreciate music (particularly Jazz) while at Beaverbrook.We hope he has a wonderful musical journey Sonja/Keith Kozak

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  2. Dear Sakatch family,

    On behalf of James’s colleagues at WSP, I want to express our deepest condolences to your family. Our thoughts are with you.

    Rob Istchenko

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  3. I was shocked and saddened to see Mr Sakatch had passed. He was an inspirational teacher to 1000s of students throughout his career. He inspired all of us to do better, try harder and have fun in the process. He was an amazing leader and made everyone feel welcome and an integral part of his world. I know he had to give up time with his family to commit to his students and for that we are forever grateful to you. There will forever be a hole in the music scene in Calgary.

    Mr Sakatch you will be missed but always remembered.

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  4. Mike and I not only shared 25 years of working together at Lord Beaverbrook, our families also shared history from Vauxhall, Alberta. Mike’s quick smile and professionalism inspired and uplifted so many people and I am grateful to have known him for that length of time. My prayers and condolences are with you all.

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  5. Mr. Sakatch was a true inspiration and role model for me. The learnings, opportunities and appreciation for music and hard work he distilled in me back when I was his student resonates as strong now as it did back then. I truly miss him and offer my deepest condolences to his family, friends and anyone who was fortunate enough to have had him in their life.

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  6. Bryan and Joan Walton

    When we moved to Calgary in 1994 we bought a home in an area where our daughter could attend Lord Beaverbrook High School because she was interested in music and the school had a reputation for having a great music program.
    Little did we know about the dynamo called Mike Sakatch!! We loved watching him command and inspire his students. He was one special guy who we came to love not only because of his influence on our daughter but also for his zest for life. Leaving way too soon Mike. Our sincere condolences to your family. Keep enjoying the music in your new home

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  7. I always looked forward to the rehearsals and concerts with Mike at Westwinds. Always quick with a joke or story he was always upbeat and supportive. Unafraid to poke fun at players in the group he was equally unafraid to poke fun at himself. At the same time Mike pushed us to play our best. I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to know and enjoy him. My sincere condolences.

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  8. Mike was a friend and a colleague. My wife, Liz, and I share many memories of Mike, especially great times with our students at Bates Bar J Ranch. Mike leaves a wonderful legacy through all of the students whose lives he touched and influenced. Mike, you will be greatly missed not only by us, your friends, but by the whole Alberta music community.

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  9. Marty & Sandy Vernon

    Mike was more than a music teacher, as hard as he tried to get me to practice I guess he knew a career in music might not be for me. But he taught me and others so much about Life. From going fishing in the old black Ford 4X4 to loaning it to us to take to Mclean creek to having me stay with Jazz the cat when he and Joan took a well deserved trip to Europe. So many happy memories I will carry for ever. He may not been able to get me to practice my instrument enough but he surly shaped my love and appreciation of all music and He’s the reason you will hear Jazz music playing throughout our house when you come to visit.
    All our thoughts and prayers to Joan, Matthew and James.
    The world will miss you Mike….

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  10. It is so very sad to hear of Mike’s passing. Over many years as a band director, I was fortunate to spend time with Mike at concerts, conferences, festivals and when he adjudicated my bands. He was unfailingly positive and inspirational. He will be missed by the music community certainly, but you, his family and closest friends, will miss him the most. Cherish the wonderful memories.

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  11. I first met Mike when we were both working as extras with the CPO, I remember the day when he came to rehearsal and announced to the Percussion Section!! I just got a full time Teaching gig!! All smiles and full of enthusiasm! BTW! He was also a Damm fine Percussionist! Way to Young.

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  12. Mike will always be Mr. Sakatch to me.

    He was so respectful of his students. He knew exactly how to manage me and my big mouth while at the same time being respectful and commanding respect.

    He was an incredibly patient man who always had a welcoming spark in his eyes whenever he’d speak with me. I am glad I had the opportunity to see him again a year ago when I spent a session in the Westwinds ensemble he was conducting.

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  13. Gordon and Bonnie-Jean Marconi

    Mike was an inspirational colleague for both of us. He volunteered his time and talents while I was a music teacher at Bishop Grandin. Many times he came to offer early morning clinics to challenge my students with their love of jazz band. At Beaverbrook, Mike consistently demonstrated what an exemplary teacher and role model can be for students, staff, parents and colleagues. We both extend our sincere condolences to Joan, Matthew, and James. Mike will be missed and remembered with fondness.
    “Grief is the price we pay for having loved.”

    Bonnie-Jean and Gordon Marconi

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  14. Mike has been an inspiration and a mentor to me in my career as a music teacher. He made a profound impact on thousands through his energy and dedication to music. He was consistently encouraging and always pushed people to achieve their best (while lightening the mood with a healthy dose of humour and sarcasm). The world of music and music education in Alberta would not be what it is now without Mike’s influence.

    Mike, I will always remember you. The world is a quieter place without you in it.

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  15. Patrick Moynahan

    To Joan and family, our condolences to all of you at this time. I am so glad Sherri and I had a chance to see you and Mike out camping a few times. Great memories!
    Patrick and Sherri Moynahan

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  16. Diego from Costa Rica and family (Joss and Sofi)

    Our thoughts and prayers are with the family as we also pray the soul of Mr.S be at peace with our Heavenly Father

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  17. The Sakatch’s:
    I’m so very sorry to hear of Mike’s passing.
    I taught with Mike for over 20 years and respected him greatly not only as a teacher but also as a person. He was one of the best!
    I will have to miss the 17th as I’m out of town.
    Neil Elliot

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  18. My heart aches for you. He was loved deeply and will forever leave a hole in my heart. I am so sorry! May peace be with you.

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  19. I had the privilege to work with Mike as the artistic director of the Vic Lewis Band Festival. Mike was an inspiring teacher, a joy to work with, and a fine, fine man ~ it was absolutely heart-expanding to see the fires he lit in the young musicians he directed. Mike’s spirit expanded and brightened my life as I’m sure he did countless others. We were so blessed to have him among us.

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  20. The best college roommate and mentor ever. He was a true leader and an inspiration to me. His positive attitude and thoughtfulness is addictive. My sincere love and thoughts go to Joan, Matthew and James. I miss him. Mike will be missed by all.

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  21. Mike will be sorely missed by his family and many friends. His legacy in the Calgary music education community will live on for generations. He was a dear friend and colleague who celebrated the good in others, and consoled those who needed their spirits lifted. My sincere condolences to his wife Joan and sons Matthew and James, extended family, and many friends who mourn.

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  22. Mr Sakatch was a fireball of energy. He was a brilliant man, caring teacher, and dedicated to his craft. His lessons from years ago remain with me 20 years later. He will be missed and never forgotten.

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  23. Joan, Matthew, James and extended Family,
    My thoughts and prayers are with you. I would like to pass on what was once passed on to me.
    Your loved ones will always be with you, as long as they remain in your heart.

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  24. Allistair Elliott

    Mike was a great inspiration to so many through his life. Not only students, but musicians! His leadership and involvement in the Vic Lewis Festival Was a true testament to how much above and beyond he went to impact those around him. He was a gentleman. My condolences to his wife and family.

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  25. Stephanie van Steenoven (Crosby)

    It was an honour to have Mr. Sakatch as a teacher and conductor during my time at Beaverbrook, and then again as a Conductor later with Westwinds. His passion for music was contageous and inspiring, and I am so thankful for the opportunity I had to know him, even only the little bit I did. My deepest condolences to his family. May you find some measure of peace during this difficult time.

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  26. Dear Joan and family, I am deeply sorry for your loss. I had the pleasure of having Mike as my band teacher during his first two years at Beaverbrook. He was bar none the best teacher I ever had, and to this day I have memories I will cherish from those two years. He deeply cared about his students, not only in the moment, but as they moved beyond the high school years. During this sad time, I hope you find some comfort in knowing that he was a man that touched the lives of a great many people in the most positive of ways. He will live on in our hearts for many more years.

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  27. Mike Sakatch was truly an amazing human! He always seemed to have the ability to brighten a room with his big smile, impart wisdom to those in his presence, and leave the room without an once of ego!
    Thank you Mike for all you gave us!
    We will miss you!

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  28. Mr. Sakatch was an incredible music teacher at Lord Beaverbrook High School. He was the reason why I attended Beaverbrook in the first place. I remember that he came to my junior high when I was in grade 9, and encouraged the band students to come to Beaverbrook because the music program was one of the best in Calgary, and it really was.

    Mr. Sakatch made all of his students not only better musicians but better people by continually challenging us (Shostakovich piece comes to mind).

    Thank you so much to Joan and family for sharing your husband and father with all his music students over the years. My condolences to you and the rest of your family.

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  29. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
    Mike carried on the family tradition of making everyone a better person. He will be missed but never be forgotten for his dedication to education and music.

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  30. Mike was a tremendous leader and visionary. His enthusiasm and update nature was infectious with all of my many dealings with him, over Thirty years. He will be sorely missed.

    Management and Staff, St. John’s Music

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  31. Hello:
    I am so deeply sorry for your loss. Mike was a kind, compassionate man with a patient and insightful spirit. I will miss him a lot.
    Mike and I were in high school at the same time in Spokane, Washington. He at Ferris High School and me at University High School, about 20 kilometres, east of Ferris.
    We shared stories about these times as my brother Eric, was also a drummer and we knew many of the same people in Eastern Washington—although we never met there.
    I first chatted with him in about 1985 when I taught at a summer band camp at the U of C. He was already one of the pillars of the instrumental music scene in Calgary. We met and worked together several times in the ensuing years. I respected him so very much.
    I wish your family all the best it is difficult time. Mike was, indeed, an unusually fair-thinking and unselfish man. So rare, and so precious.

    Jeremy Brown, D.M.A.
    Professor of Music
    University of Calgary

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  32. I was fortunate to be one one of Mike’s students the first three years he was at Beaverbrook. His talent taught me to be better drummer, but it was his inspirational work ethic that gave me the tools to be successful going forward. My sincere condolences to his entire family

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  33. In Honour of Mike Sakatch:

    I never had an interaction with Mike Sakatch that was not energetic and positive. Mike had a remarkable ability to energize and lift people, both in musical environments as well as in daily life.

    Mike was one of the first people I met when I moved to Calgary in 1988. He was among the youngest (possibly the youngest?) of the city’s high school music teachers at the time. It was a pleasure to work with the students in his outstanding program at Lord Beaverbrook High School, a location which was also to become the first home of the Calgary Wind Orchestra, which we founded in the early 90’s. Mike’s energy and generosity was not just directed toward his own students, but he allowed us to begin a professional-level wind ensemble that attracted many of Calgary’s finest freelance musicians plus members of the still-active PPCLI band, and music teachers from around the city.

    Beaverbrook also became the base of operations for the enormously successful Westwinds organization, which has thrived through the energy of key trailblazers like Mike. The Vic Lewis festival was yet another enterprise that owes its success to him. Additionally, many people might not know that it is only because of Mike Sakatch that all Calgary high schools own marimbas (a distinction that is unique in Canada), after he masterfully intervened and convinced an administrator of the virtues of musical instruments over computers.

    In my last years in Calgary (up to the summer of 2011) I was lucky to see Mike quite often, as we both served on the Board for the AIBF, which met regularly at the Stampede grounds. Mike had just “retired” from Beaverbrook, and reported that he was more busy than ever (not surprisingly), primarily as a clinician for bands all over the city, plus adding his percussion expertise where needed.

    These are just some of the remarkable accomplishments and contributions that he brought to the musical and educational life of Calgary.

    I will always remember his welcoming smile, twinkling eye, and big, resonant voice that marked the enormous vitality and energy that he brought to every personal encounter. Mike will always be an inspiration to me, and I am sure to the many, many people who were fortunate enough to be touched by his remarkable life.

    Warmly Recalled by,

    Glenn D. Price
    Director of Performing and Visual Arts – California Institute of Technology
    Professor Emeritus – The University of Calgary

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  34. Very saddened to hear that Mike Sakatch has passed away. Mike is the reason why I am in music today, having met him in grade 8 and having him as an amazing band director, mentor and drum teacher all through high school. Mike’s legacy and inspiration on music education in our community is jaw dropping. I had the great honour of teaching along side Mike for 10 years at Lord Beaverbrook helping with the percussion program…what an amazing person to so many people. I feel very blessed to have known him and experience his big heart. Thoughts and prayers to his family, Mike, you will be missed by so many.

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  35. Heather Bourgeois

    Mike was one of the most amazing men I had the privilege of knowing. He had a huge impact on my life and was such a mentor. I would not be the music teacher I am today without his live and guidance. I also would not know my husband. Mike was part of so many major events in my life and I will cherish all the fond memories I have of him. Know his legacy will live for a very long time. Our thoughts and prayers go out to you at this difficult time. Thank you for sharing him with the rest of us we are truly blessed.

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  36. I am deeply saddened at the passing of Mike. He was, and still is my teaching mentor. He brought so much joy into a struggling teens life and taught me the value of hard work, kindness and above all sharing knowledge to help inspire. Thank you Mike for all of your dedication to music and education and especially for not ratting me out when I was skipping class to play the drums – thank you for helping me discover my dreams.

    Sincerest condolences to Joan and the boys (and all of Mike’s family). Rest in peace good friend!

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  37. So sorry to hear of the recent loss of my favorite music teacher Mr. Sakatch . . . he touched many hearts and changed many lives through his stellar teaching career and love of music. His bright smile and great big personality will never be forgotten.

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  38. Shocked and saddened by the news of Mike’s passing. I knew him for 16 years while teaching at Beaverbrook. Shared a lot of laughs together, as well as a couple of drinks.
    Great guy, greater teacher and inspiration, great loss.

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  39. Sincere condolences to Mike’s family. Mike was loved and respected by students and staff alike. He taught my brother Chris Ashburn more than 30 years ago, and I had the privilege of teaching with him for 8 years at LBHS. You couldn’t meet a happier, more talented teacher and musician.

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  40. Mr. Sakatch had an incredible, positive, and lasting influence on many young lives including my own. He was an inspiration to many at time in their lives that can often be difficult. He really found his true calling in music and education. His loss will be felt far and wide. My sincerest condolences.

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  41. Shirley Mikolajow

    Our deepest condolences to the Sakatch family. Mike Sakatch inspired our family in music to an amazingly high degree. We all spent so many fun times at Lord Beaverbrook in what we would describe as “inspirational and unmatchable” experiences which include the many dances put on by the Music Association. “Yes”, let’s do it would always be his answer! Then came the endless dedicated hours he put in to ensure that the band performances were the best. Our lives have been enriched by this amazing man. May the family find peace in knowing that Mike was so well loved. Bill and Shirley Mikolajow

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  42. It with a sad heart that I found out about Mike’s passing. My music career in teaching started with Mike 30 years ago as I became a student teacher doing my practicum under his guidance. His energetic love of music and dedication defined my future teaching . Thrown all in , I experienced and learned more than most new teachers. He defined who I was as a teacher . He will be always remembered fondly and respectfully.

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  43. Natasha Gebhardt

    Mr. Sakatch was a truly wonderful human being. Tough, because you have to be to put up with teenage angst, but inspiring and an amazing teacher and musician. My favorite memory was my first year of band class we were sight reading sleigh bells and he stood on that pedestal and we were missing the clacking from the percussion and he whipped off his belt and snapped it in time to pull the crazy train wreck that we were back on track. It was that moment that I was so utterly terrified and deeply admired him for his vigor and dedication which would develop into a respect so profound for him and the profession. I am so blessed to have crossed paths with him. His passion for music was undeniable and contagious. I think lovingly and with a warm smile of the memories, yes even the moments I was terrified. My condolences to you the friends and family, some of you I know and some I have not met. The world has lost a bright light that inspired so many and may you find peace in knowing that he was so loved.

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  44. Robert & Sandra Eklund

    My wife and I have know Mike Sakatch for many years. Four wheel driving in the back country together was one of our mutually enjoyable activities. I hired Mike as one of the instructors for the Calgary Stampede Band. He was an excellent teacher and quickly became one of the band members favorite instructors. Bright eyed he always had a big smile and spoke with an energetic voice that commanded attention. He will be missed by everyone that knew him and leaves behind a legacy of service to countless numbers of youth in our city.
    Robert & Sandra Eklund

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  45. I had Mr. Sakatch in grade 10 and 11 band, in 1985-1987. He was an amazing instructor, always pushing for more, knowing we could outperform ourselves. He made the band room a safe haven for us at lunch, where all were welcome. He always had a twinkle in his eye and a joke ready to break the tension before a performance. He was one in a million.

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  46. Joan, James & Mat,
    So sorry to hear about your loss. We only had the privilege of knowing Mike for a short time when our boys played basketball together. He was always welcoming, positive and encouraging.

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  47. Kellie Ingoe Mattice

    This wonderful man was my teacher and for most of us at my Calgary High School mentor. His music room was open to us from 5am – when the last student left. We could talk to him about anything. He helped this emotional student as he had kids hanging around when the challenger crashed. My secret was that I was terrible at band. I didn’t have a musical bone in my body. Mr. Sakatch tested us and knew about my lack of talent. He also knew that the band and choral group were my friends, my community. He let it be our secret and treated me like I was s solo performer. He influenced me more than any other educator.

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  48. The Jewitt Family

    What an amazing impact Mike has had on this world. It’s mind-boggling when you think of not only the thousands of kids and young adults he helped shape directly, but the cascading effect that had on their families and the rest of society. Like ripples in a pond. We are just one such lucky family. But the dozens of other tributes here affirm this truth.

    Taken far too soon. You will be missed, but your legacy lives on.

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  49. I am grateful having the gifted Mr. Sakatch as my music teacher at Lord Beaverbrook in the early 80’s. His impact was beyond that of a teacher. His, motivation, coaching, accommodation and his leadership by example inspired me to reach my highest of notes as a young student navigating life’s journey. My sincerest condolences to his family, friends and loved ones.

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  50. I am sorry to hear of the passing of Mike. Even though I had the honour of working with him for a short period at LBHS, I can honestly say Mike had a wonderful gift of making a difference with students. He was a remarkable music educator. Mike will be truly missed. My condolences to his family.

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  51. Chris Greschner

    I am honoured to have had the privilege to get to know Mike, first as a rep at St. John’s Music and then as a band teacher myself, where I often called him out for clinics with my own students. I will also always remember fondly from my high school years, seeing an incredible performance at festival of Mr. Sakatch conducting the Beaverbrook Symphonic Band performing the first movement of DeMeij’s “Big Apple Symphony” (circa 1993) which absolutely blew my mind! I am grateful of the time and mentorship that Mike always gave candidly to me and my students; with kindness, generosity and a sense of humour that made him so approachable and fun to learn from. This is a momentous loss to our community, and my thoughts, prayers and best wishes go out to you all.

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  52. Aunt Joan, Matthew & James,

    Our deepest sympathy on the loss of Uncle Mike (your husband and father). Our thoughts are with you during this sad time. Sorry we weren’t able to drive to Calgary yesterday to join you for the memorial service.

    Love Karen, Brianna & Erika Stals (nee Mann)

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  53. Our hearts are broken as we heard of the sad news of Mike’s passing. He was such a brilliant man who was loved by so many. I just loved teaching piano to both of the boys and was so blessed to have had your beautiful Family cross my path in life. He certainly cherished all of you and shared his amazing musical talent with all the world.Prayers of strength,courage and peace being sent your way. If we can help in any way, don’t hesitate to reach out as we would do anything for such a loving Family. God bless. Bruce and Donna Meyers

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  54. I am deeply saddened to hear of Mike’s passing. I have such fond memories of his band program in High School. He was always welcoming to any student who wanted a place to play music.
    Sending my thoughts and prayers to his family who shared his gifts with all of us for so many years.
    He’s left a brilliant legacy.

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  55. Natalie Taub (Chopin)

    I am so sorry for your loss. Mike was one of a kind.

    I first met Mr. Sakatch in the summer of 1993 at the Summer Band Workshop. I just finished grade 9 and was leaving the NW and starting at Beaverbrook in the fall as a grade 10 student who knew no one! Lucky for me, I was placed in Mr. Sakatch’s band and immediately saw what an incredible teacher he was. I shared my story of being a scared 10th grader starting at the biggest high school with him and with that sparkle in his eye, he assured me that I would be just fine. And….he was right.

    Music was everything to me in high school. When I wasn’t in band or jazz class I’d find a way to hang out on his couch during my spares (and other classes) to just be inspired by his wisdom, of not only music but life. He was always there to listen and believed in me each and every day.

    After high school I pursued music and became a band teacher for the CBE. I cannot express how special it was to know that one of the greats was now a colleague. Mike’s dedication and commitment to his students has always been a huge part of my teaching and why it’s a priority for me to build strong and personal relationships with my students. I may not teach band anymore but I strive to care about my students each and every day…because Mike did that for me.

    He will be missed but always remembered.

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  56. Lorie Hartman (Rotz)

    My condolences to Mike’s family. Mike was my band director at Lord Beaverbrook and recruited me to the Stampede Show Band. Because of him, I traveled more than I could have imagined back then. I will always remember his smile and his “drumming” without a drum on the side of his leg with some tune he was appreciating at the time. He will be missed.

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  57. Our deep sympathy to you Joan and your family.
    We are sorry to hear of your loss of your dear husband Mike.
    Those we have learned from, laughed with and loved, remain
    In our memory forever.
    In caring love Keith and Irene and family

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