Michael W. “Mike” Alexander, of Elgin, IL, passed away in the early morning hours of November 16, 2021. He was 81 years old.
Mike was born on July 3, 1940 in Brooklyn, NY, and grew up near Bedford-Stuyvesant with his mother Florence Podgurski and his Polish immigrant grandparents, William and Selma. When Florence married William Charles Alexander, a veteran and career military man, he adopted Mike and his brother, Bill, and the family moved around with William’s postings, including one in Germany where Mike graduated from high school.
Mike survived the “wild years” of his twenties despite several close calls, and eventually left New York for Chicago, where he met, and married, the lifelong friend of his heart, Susan.
At the age of 31, Mike became a friend of Bill W. and remained an active member of the recovery community for the rest of his life, working the steps and sponsoring many others on the journey. He marked 50 years of sobriety in 2021.
Having grown up in New York City, Mike was tough, street smart and enterprising. As a young man, he worked as a numbers runner on the streets of Brooklyn, then later as a delivery driver, a telecom worker, and even a long-haul truck driver. For a time, he ran a gutter business with his brother. Eventually, he settled into work as a cable TV and satellite installation contractor, retiring from that very physical job at the age of 71!
Mike always enjoyed games of chance and gambling as a pastime. He played the daily and weekly numbers and won many times but never did “hit the big one.” At the casino, he preferred table games to machines. In his retirement years, he enjoyed playing cards with his Willow Lakes poker group and looked forward to it every week. Mike loved fishing of all kinds: an ocean charter, a rowboat on a lake, or just dropping a line off the pier. Mike enjoyed a good meal, especially fish and seafood, traditional Polish dishes and cracker-thin-crust New York pizza. Mike had a mischievous spirit which made him charming and quite funny and fun to be with. He liked to have a good time. He always carried himself as a tough guy, but underneath he had a tender and genuine heart and loved the people in his life deeply and loyally. He will be missed.
Michael was preceded in death by his beloved brother, Bill, and their parents, Florence and William Alexander. He is survived by his beloved wife, Susan Alexander; children, Rick Alexander, Donna (Kevin) Murphy, Linda (Dave) Smith, and Christopher (Cheryln Crowl) Alexander; nieces and nephews, Michael, Diane, John, Gina, Scott, Joey, John, and Alexandra; grandchildren, Megan, Adam, Sarah, Kevin, Keith, and Lilli; and great-grandchild, Hunter.
Memorial visitation will be 9:00am until funeral mass at 10:00am, Friday, December 3, 2021 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 397 Fulton Street, Elgin, IL 60120. Interment will be private.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in Michael’s name to St. Jude Children’s Hospital.
Final arrangements entrusted to Symonds-Madison Funeral Home. For more information, call 847-741-1128 or visit www.symondsmadison.com.