Our beloved younger brother, Michael Steven Rhinehart passed away in a heartbreaking single vehicle accident on June 9, 2023 in Tucson, AZ. Born in Lansing, MI, on June 15, 1960 he is predeceased by his parents Richard and Rosa Rhinehart and his paternal grandmother, Bertha Christensen, with whom he shared a close bond.
We spent our early years together as “Army Brats” as our dad and mom exposed us to new places and foreign cultures. In 1972, Dad brought us to Sierra Vista, AZ where Mike completed middle school and graduated from Sierra Vista’s Buena High School in 1978. During his time at Sierra Vista, Mike participated in cross country motorcycle racing – a sport he excelled at and loved. After an accident that injured his elbow, Mike switched to Motorcycle Trials Competitions. He won many competitions in Southern Arizona. He continued to share his interest in motorcycles with our dad and it became a life-long love for them.
Mike loved his parents and family deeply. He was especially devoted to our mom who lived with Multiple Sclerosis for 40 years of her life. Many times, as an adult, Dad needed Mike to help take care of Mom when he traveled overseas for work. Mike always stepped up and did what Dad asked him to do, even when it meant he had to sacrifice part of his own life to help Mom.
After our parents moved to Germany, Mike moved to Phoenix to be near Grandma Bertha and pursued a degree at Arizona State University. Six months short of his Bachelor’s degree, Mike visited our parents in Germany. While he was there, he was presented with a once in a lifetime opportunity to join Ernest Bischoff (his late beloved cousin) and his pit crew supporting Formula 1 racing and traveling throughout Europe. He cherished that experience.
Returning home to Phoenix, Mike drove a delivery route for Pepsi Cola in Phoenix. Later he became a long-haul truck driver. He finally settled in on building a career at Truly Nolen, where he was excelling and developing a good reputation. He was much-loved by both his clients and his co-workers. Tragically, in May 2003, while driving his company vehicle, a car ran a stop sign and T-boned his car. Mike suffered serious internal damage after his aorta artery was severed along with fractures to his neck and legs. He nearly died. After multiple surgeries and a long convalescence, he recovered but was plagued with debilitating health issues for the rest of his life. Mike would never give up. He was tough like his parents and he had a heart of gold. Throughout his life, Mike was always eager to step in to help a family member or a friend. His huge heart and tenderness for others extended to loving his dogs.
Mike is survived by his siblings – Barbara Rhinehart and Rick Rhinehart (Kathy), his nephews: Rick Rhinehart (Kendra), Jason Briggles (Amber), Alex Rhinehart (Tony), and his niece: Michelle Piñedo, along with many grandnieces and nephews. He also leaves behind his devoted and loyal companion, Papo, his chocolate Labrador Retriever.
Mike loved sports. He could always be seen wearing one his many jerseys representing his favorite Arizona teams: the Cardinals, the Suns, and the Diamondbacks. We invite attendees to celebrate Mike’s life by wearing a sports shirt or jersey in his memory.
A Funeral Mass is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. on Saturday August 19, 2023 at St. Christopher Catholic Church at 12101 West Moore Rd. in Marana, AZ. An internment service will follow immediately after the Mass at Marana Cemetery and a short gathering thereafter at a local restaurant where we will share stories of his life.