Most of his friends and acquaintances will have undoubtedly received the news in other forums, but I must also comment here, though I have been remiss in timely postings on other matters.
Mike Ameling, "that grumpy old blacksmith out in the Hinterlands", has died at age 56.
I first met Mike when we took the "Grand Portage Choir Boys" tour van to DeChartres Spring Frolic a number of years ago. The thirty-somethings through fifty-somethings piled into the Timmerman's van (the "Otter" family van for those of you who know Tim and Brenda) and headed south.
It was, to say the least, a rollicking good time, and has been every year since. Although only two of us in that crew could be considered "liberal" or other left-leaning labels, and we definitely did not agree on any number of political issues, we became nonetheless close friends and comrades.
Mike was a blacksmith, and more. Amongst his other skills and areas of knowledge, his study of the firesteel, an integral part of anyone's interpretation of our time period, was comprehensive, spanning Roman times to now. His artifacts were fascinating and his reproductions were amazing. His reproductions now reside in various interpretive centers. Many camps have any number of his fire steels, metal pipes, rat spears, chisels, knives, and more.
Beyond that, Mike was a really nice guy. That "grumpy" epitaph was just a label he liked, I suppose because he really did live in the hinterlands. But he was kind and generous, and like many Midwesterners, ever self-effacing.
Mike, you deserve all the compliments and honors and love your family and friends around the world are pouring out to you.
Godspeed, Mikey, and we'll see you further down the portage.