Michael (Mike) Gennady Kosolapoff passed away with his daughter by his side after an extended illness on Saturday, April 18, 2020, at Bethany House in Auburn.
He was 79 years old. Mike was born in Dayton, Ohio, to the late Gennady Michael and Dorothea Bouton Kosolapoff.
He moved to Auburn with his family in 1948, graduating from Auburn High School in 1959 and Auburn University in 1963.
He married Emily Andrews in July of 1964, six months after meeting her on a blind date. They had one daughter, Lara, and were married for 53 years.
After graduating from Auburn, Mike was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army from the university’s ROTC program. He served two tours in Vietnam and was awarded numerous medals, including the Soldier’s Medal for heroism and the Bronze Star Medal with “V” device for heroism in ground combat. In 1987, Mike retired as a lieutenant colonel after 23 years of service, and he and his family returned to Auburn.
He was an active member of American Legion Post 152 and the Military Officers Association of America, East-Central Alabama chapter.
Although service to his country was a significant part of his life, the 15 years Mike spent in his second career as a math teacher and guidance counselor at both Valley High School and Auburn High School were some of the most meaningful to him. His impact as an educator extended outside of school as he was considered a friend by many of his former students. Not only did he make an effort to stay in touch, but his students did the same.
Being in service to others was one of the most important things to Mike, and he was a friend and confidant to anyone who needed help. He dedicated untold volunteer hours to the WeHelp Coalition of Churches in support of Auburn-Opelika Habitat for Humanity, and he worked on over 18 Habitat houses in the area. He founded a popular fundraiser for the organization selling organic blueberries every summer for more than 20 years, and he was instrumental in organizing WeHelp’s annual Cookie Walk each December.
In 2012, Mike was named the Lee County Habitat for Humanity Volunteer of the Year, and in 2013 he received the Auburn Rotary Club’s Citizen of the Year award, in part for his work with Habitat. Mike was a faithful member of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Auburn, where he was among the first acolytes when the parish opened in 1957. He served on Holy Trinity’s vestry for many years, was the church’s “blue-collar” verger, and spent several decades as the acolyte director.
In addition to his parents, Mike was preceded in death by his wife, Emily Andrews Kosolapoff, and his older sister Alexandra (Shura) Kosolapoff Massey.
He is survived by his daughter, Lara Kosolapoff-Wright, and her husband, Jerry Wright; sister, Patricia (Patty) Kosolapoff; two sisters-in-law, Rebecca Andrews Moore and Lorraine Andrews Withers; and five nieces and nephews.
Mike is also survived by a tight-knit circle of lifelong friends with whom he maintained almost daily contact until his death in April.
Mike’s ashes were committed to the columbarium at Holy Trinity during a small private service on April 24, 2020.
A memorial service will be held when family and friends can gather safely in person again.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you make a contribution to Auburn-Opelika Habitat for Humanity, Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, or a charity of the sender’s choice.
Frederick-Dean Funeral Home of Lee County handled the arrangements.