Cover photo for Michael Desmond Praetzel's Obituary
Michael Desmond Praetzel Profile Photo
1934 Michael 2023

Michael Desmond Praetzel

November 17, 1934 — March 24, 2023



Michael (Mike) Desmond Praetzel of Bellingham, Washington, died peacefully early Friday evening, March 24th, at the age of 88. His oldest daughter Kimber was by his side.


Born on November 17th, 1934, in Petaluma, California to Bertha King and Desmond Praetzel, Mike grew up on his family’s farm with five siblings. As a child, he attended Catholic schools and excelled in math and physics, obtaining a top score on the state physics exam. After high school, he attended the University of California San Francisco for a year before deciding to go into the Jesuit priesthood rather than pursuing medical school. While in the order, he lived in Los Gatos, and later taught physics at Gonzaga University. 


Mike left the Jesuit order after 11 years, earned his MSW at the University of Michigan, and went on to work as a psychotherapist until he retired. While in Ann Arbor, he met and married Joanne (Jo) Frances Knapman, and embraced her daughters, Kimber and Jennifer, as his own. The family moved to Bellingham soon after. Mike loved to spend time with his family, camping in their VW bus and Winnebago, and sailing in the U.S. and Canadian San Juan Islands. They enjoyed travels throughout North America, Europe, and China. He and Jo were delighted at the births of their grandsons, Tristan and Trevor, and maintained close relationships with them. They were greatly impacted by his love of poetry and sharing of Shel Silverstein’s books, as well as ongoing uplifting and meaningful conversations. The birth of their great granddaughter brought them so much joy, and Mike delighted in reading books with Winter.  A passionate cook who extended warm hospitality, Mike enjoyed good food and drink. He and Jo were avid gardeners, growing dahlias, raspberries, apples, blueberries, and numerous other flowers, fruits, and vegetables. Mike was a progressive who loved to explore philosophical and political issues, and had a very strong intellect; he was often referred to as the family encyclopedia and dictionary. He was a gifted, self-taught artist who drew and sculpted. Less talented as a singer, but just as enthusiastic, Mike sang off key with gusto. He loved a good joke and would laugh at his own!  Unfailingly kind and patient; Mike was compassionate toward animals, children, and people who struggled with life’s challenges.


 Mike leaves behind his spouse, Joanne Frances Knapman Praetzel, his daughter Kimber Langton of Bellingham, WA, his daughter Jennifer Langton and her partner Laura Vance of Asheville, NC, grandsons Tristan Langton and Trevor Nims, his great-granddaughter Winter, his siblings Carol, Paul, Nancy, and Jerry, numerous nephews, nieces, and cousins, and his beloved dog Teddy. He was preceded in death by his oldest sister Marie, and his son-in-law Lou Nims.


A private ceremony with immediate family will be held to celebrate Mike’s life and carry out his wishes that his ashes be dispersed over salt water, as well as in the family burial plot at Greenacres Memorial Park. Please consider supporting your local hospice or Humane Society.


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