Michael R. Chanecka, 77, always his own man, decided to leave us on June 4 to join the numerous family and friends who departed before him. While those of us left behind mourn his passing, he will be welcomed at his next stop.
Mike was a lifelong, proud First Warder, but well-known throughout the Triple Cities. In sports, he was considered among the most talented and competitive basketball players. He starred at both Binghamton Central and Broome Tech. He also was a top baseball/softball player. In Little League for Ansco, in six innings he struck out 18 batters. Area softball teams vied to have him swinging his bat for them. While never a top golfer, he loved the game and in his latter years as a marshal at Ely Park, Mike was known as the enforcer of the rules – he was even feared by some.
From his early years, Mike was a scrapper. He never backed down from anyone – and they knew not to cross him. At the same time, he was most kind to his friends and family. He was loved by so many for so many different reasons. Some admired his athletic abilities, along with his toughness. As a longtime bartender and one-time owner of “Chaney’s,” patrons knew they had a friend behind the bar.
His kindness was most exhibited in his 37-year marriage to Ruth Dofton Chanecka. She was his “darlin” and the two of them were a special couple. Ruth saw him through various health issues and he knew she was his VIP. She was No. 1 in his life. He was her “Mikey.” Together they made annual trips to Las Vegas, Mike’s “other home.”
Mike had a heart of gold. Any friend in need he would be there. He had many great friends through his life. In his new location, he will rekindle deep friendships with Mike Bedosky and David Taylor, two of his closest friends for decades. So many others, too. In recent years, John “Mokey” Whalen and Ray Stanton were there for Mike and Ruth any time called on. Other special friends are Bob Gorgrant, John Sherba and Bob Bromley.
After he lost his beloved brother Joe in 2000, Mike staged charity golf tournaments at Ely Park – “Joe’s Tournament” – from 2001-2016 that raised many thousands of dollars for the Woodrow Wilson School Library and scholarships to WW grads. He was on the Board of the Woodrow Wilson Alumni Association, one of America’s oldest elementary/junior high alumni associations
Those who knew him best understand the term “Mike’s World.” He lived life on his own terms and occasionally his ideas conflicted with the norms. We laughed and just nodded: “He’s in Mike’s World and that’s a different place.”
In addition to his brother Joe, Mike was preceded in death by his parents, Mary Chanecka and Steven Chanecka, and sister-in-law, Mary Furino Chanecka. He leaves behind his wife, Ruth; sister Kathi Hickey of Davis, CA; brother Steve Chanecka (Pam) of Sacramento, CA; half sister Helen Vasconcellos of Honolulu, HI.; son Michael Jelks of Denver, CO; and daughter Cheryl O’Brien of Binghamton. Mike leaves two beloved brothers-in-law, Paul Dofton (Joan Davis) of Binghamton and Jim Dofton (Marie) of Philadelphia. He is also mourned by his nieces, nephews and cousins in the extensive Chanecka and Krivyanik families in Binghamton and elsewhere.
Burial will be private and a Celebration of Life will be organized when the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. Donations in Mike’s memory may be made to any worthy charity.
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