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Fauerbach remembered with ABR bench


January 15, 2020

Submitted photo

Rob and Beth Fauerbach, of Lafayette, Colorado, sit on the bench built in memory of Rob's late father, Mike Fauerbach, 67, of Saxon, who passed away during the 10th annual Sisu Ski Fest in January 2019. The bench is located where he died at the ABR Trails in Ironwood Township and was dedicated on Saturday. Eric Anderson submitted the photo.


ERWIN TOWNSHIP - Just prior to the start of the 11th Sisu Ski Fest on Saturday morning a group of family and friends dedicated a spot where a longtime race supporter and participant passed away the year before.

Mike Fauerbach, 67, of Saxon, died just after starting out on the 15K Heikki Lunta Classic cross country ski race in the 10th annual Sisu Ski Fest on Jan. 9, 2019. The Saxon attorney was remembered with a bench and plaque dedication at the spot where he rested after going into cardiac arrest at Active Backwoods Retreats (ABR).

"Mike was a friend of ours," said Eric Anderson, owner of ABR. "The bench is located in the spot where he died. So it's pretty special."

Fauerbach skied with Anderson and Angela Santini since the ABR opened more than 20 years ago. They shared a passion for logging and often traded different types of wood for various projects.

Fauerbach had given Anderson some cedar wood around the time of his passing. There are four other benches on the trail that were dedicated to the memory of people and so Anderson and Santini decided to use the wood to have the memorial bench made in memory of someone who was so closely associated with ABR.

"Mike and I had been swapping cedar for tamarack planks to make bridges," Anderson said. "So I used some of it for the bench that was built by one of our helpers here."

Anderson altered the trail so that the section with the bench is now a warm-up loop for skiers. The dedication was held at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, just an hour before the more than 700 racers started out in waves for the 15K and 30K races from ABR to downtown Ironwood.

Rob and Beth Fauerbach, of Lafayette, Colorado, traveled to Ironwood for the 11th Sisu and the bench dedication. Rob, who is Mike Fauerbach's son, skied in his first Sisu event on the same 15K Heikki Lunta course his father raced a year earlier.

"I think that was a goal of his early on last year," said Gloria Fauerbach, who is Rob's mother and Mike's widow.

It was a quick trip for the dedication and to take part in the Sisu event, she said. He had to fly out of the country the next day for work.

"Mike took him out into the woods from a young age," Gloria said.

The bench is a very nice memorial to her late husband, who was a fan of the Sisu Ski Fest along with supporting silent sports and the Iron County Outdoor Recreation Enthusiasts. So many people continue skiing the Sisu and the event has had such a positive impact on people, she said.

"What I know is that he would be most proud of how Sisu ended up," Gloria said. "I don't think he would ever want the race associated with his passing."

For the dedication, Deb Leonard made two ice candle luminaries to place at the bench at the time of the dedication. The luminaries were burning two days later after the dedication.

"They sent me pictures of the bench and told me the luminaries were still burning," she said. "Eric had this planned way back, a year ago, and it was a really nice tribute."

Gloria said other memorials to him include the Fauerbach Pause on the Historic Montreal Ski Trails system, and the Fauerbach Climb on the Uller Ski Trails in Pence. Mike was a member of the nonprofit Penokee Rangers Inc., which maintains the non-motorized trails, and a friend of Charlie Zinsmaster, chief of trails, she said.

"There is a sign on both trails in honor of Mike," she said.


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