Mike Cmos Jr. always had a smile. He left his door open for others and gave unconditional love and friendship.
And, reiterated once again: He caught some great fish.
Those were the words used repeatedly to describe the 46-year-old Spokane native at his memorial service Monday. Cmos’ funeral was held exactly one week after the well-loved man fell into a 2-million-gallon wastewater treatment tank after its roof apparently collapsed.
Cmos was a 24-year veteran maintenance mechanic for the city of Spokane. His body was recovered Wednesday near the bottom of the tank that failed in the horrific accident, which still is being investigated.
But Monday’s service wasn’t about dwelling on the incident. It was a time to honor a man who had a lasting effect on many of the nearly 1,000 people who were at Calvary Chapel, 511 W. Hastings.
“We grieve today, yet, today is about celebrating Mike’s life,” said Spokane Police Department Chaplain Denny Klaja.
Fishermen, musicians, bikers and co-workers created an eclectic group of mourners.
“He had some strange friends,” friend Ron Kendall told the audience, who laughed in response. “He accepted people for who they were.”
Kendall told a story of hanging out at a party with Cmos, who encouraged him to take the microphone and sing with a group of musicians. Apprehensive, Kendall admitted that his specialty is talking, not singing. Finally, at Cmos’ urging, Kendall relented, sang a song, and was praised by his friend for his singing voice.
“He had a way of making you feel like whatever it was you did, it was the best he’d ever seen,” Kendall said. “It wasn’t until I went back and listened and saw myself on tape that I realized I was horrible.”
As for Klaja, he had high praise for Cmos, a man he never met. The outpouring of support to his widow, Kathy Cmos, and daughter, Jennifer Cmos, is testimony to Cmos’ spirit, Klaja said.
“Mike is one of those kind of guys who is well loved,” Klaja said.
Dan Lewis was one of those who loved Cmos. Lewis told the audience his friend sang at Lewis’ wedding.
“Thank you, Mike, Jennifer, Kathy, for the friendship,” Lewis said.
And even though Spokane Mayor Jim West said he’d never met Cmos, West stated proudly of his fellow public servant: “He was one of us.”
“Mike’s spirit, and Mike, are with us today,” West said.
Later, a video tribute was displayed on two large screens, showing the progression of Cmos’ life: Mike as an infant, through boyhood and adolescence, his wedding day with Kathy and the birth of Jennifer.
And there were the fish. To judge from various accounts, Cmos fished every chance he got, and was a fisherman to envy. One speaker said that when Cmos told a fish story, it was no exaggerations.
After the memorial service, vehicles formed a long funeral procession that made its way to the Fairmount Memorial Park at 5200 W. Wellesley. Hundreds of cars with their lights and flashers on were escorted by police to the cemetery near Albi Stadium. The first cars began leaving Calvary Chapel just before 1 p.m., the last vehicles to arrive at the cemetery – a distance of roughly seven miles – made it one hour later.
Scores of on-lookers watched as several motorists who were not part of the processional waited for the traffic to pass. Upon entry to the cemetery, Cmos received a sendoff from hundreds of city employees reminiscent of a military sendoff for a fallen comrade. They lined the left side of the street on Wellesley near the cemetery while city service vehicles were on the right side with their lights flashing.
Then, at the grave, the finality of Mike Cmos’ burial felt heavier. The tears flowed faster and the sobs grew stronger; Klaja encouraged supporters to continue praying for the family in a difficult time.
For a brief moment the sky grew dark, the wind increased and it appeared that rain showers were going to fall. But just as quickly as it occurred, the sky gave way to sunshine. And Mike Cmos’ body was lowered in the ground.
“I know that Mike Cmos was a believer in Jesus Christ,” Klaja said. “We are here to celebrate life … eternal life,” Klaja said. “Mike will have eternal life. One day, you will see him face to face.”
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.