Mike Villanueva – A Tribute For One Of Our Own

Jim Ellis
Editor, Legacy Magazine

On May 3, 2017 we lost one of our own.

Mike Villanueva – long-time member of MDI in the Southwest Region, in the San Diego Men’s Division – passed away in his San Diego home. More will emerge on the cause of death. But no matter the cause, the truth is we are so much less without him.

I am so much less without him. He was not just a teammate who would circle up once a week. Much more than all the good that he has done – as team leader, Regional S1, finance manager, volunteer for the “Stand Up For Kids” non-profit, and on and on.

He was my brother, a family member, a cherished loved one.

To others he was also a son, an uncle, as well as a dear friend who gave of himself so selflessly.

A tribute division meeting will be held in his honor on Thursday, May 11 in Mission Bay, San Diego. His legacy can live on in various ways, depending on the man or woman who recalls his giving and loving spirit.

For me, one legacy will be the lesson regarding never waiting when the truth is to be shared with another. Upon his passing, this poem came to me in an effortless flow. I share it for all hearts ready to speak loud and proud in the present moment.

Love ya Mikey.

VIlla with one his old teammates in the San Diego Men’s Division, Eric Louie.


The Next Time We Meet

Excited, anticipating – I long to see you again
We’ll share where we’re going and where we’ve been
We’ll reminisce about the great times and all of that stuff
High fives, and high purpose – we won’t get enough
It will be awesome, a treasure, a trick and a treat
This will all happen the next time we meet

Besides the good times, there may be the bad
Some of those moments of darkness we’ve had
The experiences of betrayal or let down or dread
Those barriers that keep us from forging ahead
I guess I’ll have to share them to feel now complete
That won’t be an issue … the next time we meet

The next time we meet – Can it ever truly come?
The next time we meet – A task never done
The next time we meet – Pushed further, further on
The next time we meet – The moment is gone

For it’s true there arises a reality of “too late”
When we decide to push it off in the pursuit of the wait
The passing, the departure of a soul not meant to leave
So that all that remains is to regret and to grieve
No one is ever ready; we were not complete
I do not, now, know of the next time we meet

God willing, there will come a day – full of light and full of grace
When we’re done with the treadmill and the ugly rat race
When we’re finished with waiting and pushing it off
When the avoiding and hiding will finally stop
In a haven where all is resolved and all is complete
We’ll join in a higher place … the next time we meet

The next time we meet – Does it ever truly come?
The next time we meet – The future never begun
The next time we meet – The present here and now
The next time we meet – Time to surrender and to allow…

The next time we meet

Mike and his father once upon a time.

5 thoughts on “Mike Villanueva – A Tribute For One Of Our Own”


    Hello, this is Katrina Vesey (Fred Vesey’s widow).

    To all of the incredible men of MDI (especially the ones from the Southern California Division who were instrumental in helping me move into this tiny cottage last August), I was so shaken and heartbroken to learn of Mike’s passing from Jim Ellis this week. It is still so hard for me to comprehend. I met Mike for the first time, when he showed up with the group that evening to unload the huge moving truck. He hadn’t ever met my husband Fred, but was here to do whatever it took to help me get settled. Mike touched my heart, and I will forever be grateful to his managing the men that came together in Ocean Beach, to unload my belongings (or part of them) which just arrived from Northern California (in thanks to the amazing men from YMUW, who took incredible care of me by organizing and loading the moving truck for the long trip south).

    Mike was so instrumental in just taking over, making sure that everyone was doing what needed to be done. It didn’t take long for me to realize what a wonderful man he was, and looked up to by many. What stands out in my mind most of all, was Mike’s genuine care and concern for me, his gentleness and kindness. I was in such a state that evening, stressed beyond belief, and operating on very little sleep for a very long time. I had just lost my beloved husband Fred, a few months earlier, and grief had pretty much taken over my life. After a bit, it was noticed, that I was not going to be able to move all of my belongings into the cottage, it was too small. Some of the items had to be hauled back to the truck, and we realized I would have to find storage to keep the overflow, until such time as I could figure out what to do with it.

    Mike made sure the truck was secure, and the plan was to get a storage unit close by. I was of no help whatsoever, mentally or physically. Mike came back to pick me up the next day, to go find storage which we did. He just took control of the whole transaction. Eventually, I was able to get rid of the storage unit altogether. Mike and I would email in between times, and I talked about having him to dinner, and I know he was looking forward to that. He shared with me that he would be pursuing a teaching job eventually, which is what he wanted to do.

    I am so sad that the dinner here never happened. In all reality, I haven’t even had my own kids/grandkids or friends over to dinner since I moved in here last year. I just haven’t been in the right mindset to entertain anyone. Grief! Now, I am getting ready to move again (for multiple reasons)….to a much roomier place in a beautiful area of San Diego…and luckily still as close to my kids.

    I will never forget Mike’s calming demeanor, how much he cared about what I was feeling during that whole time, and how he managed to settle me down. I felt so fortunate to have met him, even though it was under such stressful circumstances. He worked tirelessly, as did all that men involved, and he never complained.

    If he managed to make such a strong impression on me in such a short time, I can only imagine what impact he had on all of you men. He was special, I could sense that immediately. Gone WAY too soon, dearest Mike. I will never forget you! Rest in peace.

    With love and gratitude, Katrina

  2. Jennifer Ellis

    I can’t believe tomorrow it will be five years since Mike’s passing. :(
    “We’ll join in a higher place … the next time we meet”

  3. McV, My pal, whom I had numerous volunteer working arrangements with (we call them battles, sometimes) and through those experiences, I couldn’t help but get to know him deeply. He had one heck of a philosophy of life. I appreciated his perspective and respected how he conducted himself. I’m sad that he’s gone. His efforts are not gone, though. His life improved the lives of others.

  4. Art McCormack

    When I hear the expression “a brother from another mother…” Villanueva is the man I think of as my brother from another mother.

    This man’s heart, kindness, generosity and care were truly astounding. For example: once, when I was overseas, my son – in a teenage fit of rage – broke a window at home. Mike was the only man my now ex-wife felt comfortable calling and he never hesitated a moment to show up at my house, and get the window replaced. Is that a true friend or what?

    Villanueva and I shared many experiences both within MDI and outside the organization, he was truly one of my best friends ever and also a man I could trust to speak the truth from a place of masculine care when needed.

    You are sorely missed Mike.

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