Obituary: John Michael “Mike” Deer
October 15, 1940 – December 25, 2022
John Michael (Mike) Deer passed away at home in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Christmas Day 2022. He’s said his last “Whoa!”
Mike was born on October 15, 1940, in Independence, KS to Ruby Faye (Kelly) and John Worthington Deer. His mother, Ruby, passed away of breast cancer when Mike was twelve years old. He was blessed later with a kind and loving stepmom, Ruth (Kinyon) Deer.
Mike grew up in Neodesha, Kansas. He went to North Lawn Grade School and Neodesha High School, graduating in 1958. While in high school he was a standout athlete lettering in football, basketball, and track. He attended the University of Kansas on a football scholarship. He played alongside John Hadl, Curtis McClinton, and the rest of the 1961 Blue Bonnet Bowl Champions.
Mike was married to and divorced from Stephanie (Sooby). They had a son, John Kelly and a daughter, Jennifer Bleakney. Mike and Stevi and children moved to Neodesha in 1969 where Mike was very active in the community
In 1979 Mike and family moved to Glenwood Springs, CO., where Mike opened his Deer Insurance Agency. Later Mike and Rita (Rush) his college sweetheart re-united and married, and were together and married for 26 years. In 2018 Mike and Rita sold their Colorado property and moved to Tulsa, OK. Mike loved being able to drive to Neodesha for the day to check the crops.
Mike was elected to the city council in Glenwood Springs and served on several boards. For a total of 8 years Mike was elected Vice President and President of the Nation Reining Horse Association. Mike would say those were some of the best years of his life, serving as El Presidente!
He was blessed with years of good health, loving family and friends. A classmate recently said, “Mike worked the crowd wherever he was. He had a magic way with people.”
He was preceded in death by his parents, John, Ruby, & Ruth Deer, his brother-in-law’s, Montie Wallace and Gene Bailey. He is survived by his wife, Rita Rush Harrington Deer of the home, Son, John Kelly Deer (Christine) of Tulsa, OK, his daughter, Jennifer Bleakney Brooks (Clay) of Highlands Ranch, CO, Step-sons, Timothy Harrington (Robyn) of Malibu, and Christopher Harrington (Christina) of Topanga, CA. Grandchildren Cole Brooks (Megan) Jack Deer and Michael Deer, Lilly Harrington and Chloe Harrington, Ellery Harrington and Hutch Harrington. Sister, Pattie Deer Bailey, Nephews Sean Wallace, Heath Wallace (Jill), and niece, Heather Wallace Pierce.
As Mike wrote at the end of one his NHRA Reiner President letters, “In the meantime, I hope you have bought a nice horse with slider plates, found a nice patch of dirt and just said ‘whoa.’”
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