Constantin "Mike" Micuda
Constantin “Mike” Micuda, 91, of Brevard, passed away Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013.
An architect of international acclaim, he was born April 13, 1922, in the town of Brașov, in the Transylvania Region of Romania.
As a young boy, he decided that he wanted to be an architect and later began his studies at the University of Berlin during World War II, amidst repeated American and British bombardments. During this time, he also endured a grueling 10 months as a political objector and prisoner in a Nazi detainment camp, surviving by bathing in snow, eating one potato per day and sleeping on straw-filled sacks.
After the war, he completed an advanced degree in architecture at the University of Rome, before seizing the opportunity to travel by troop transport ship to America in 1950. Following a turbulent seven-day sea journey, he arrived in New York with $8 in his pocket. Fluent in Romanian, German, Italian and French, but unable to speak a word of English, he drew on sheer determination and ambition as he began his quest for the “American Dream.”
After a brief stay in the rural mid-west, he ventured to Detroit, where he found work on an assembly line for Kaiser Motor Company. His artistic ability was soon discovered and he was quickly promoted to a top-level production illustrator. It was while he was working at Kaiser that he met northern Michigan-born Marjorie Beebe. They were married in 1952 in Ypsilanti, Mich.
In 1955, he decided to resume his pursuit of a career in architecture. To strengthen his skills, he sought a master’s degree in structural engineering from the University of Michigan, with wife, Marjorie, at his side as his English coach. His great intelligence and perseverance to overcome the language barrier earned him great respect from fellow students, and he was voted president of his graduating class.
Upon graduating in 1955, he had numerous offers and chose a position with architectural firm Kingscott and Associates in Kalamazoo, Mich. where he used his exceptional talents to work his way from draftsman to executive vice president. In 1970, he joined O’Dell, Hewlett and Luckenbach in the affluent Detroit suburb of Birmingham, Mich.
He was project director of one of the most revolutionary buildings of the 1970s, the Pontiac Silverdome Stadium in Michigan, home to the Detroit Lions and the Detroit Pistons. Beneath its retractable canopy, the Pope celebrated Mass before a record crowd of over 93,000 people, musicians ranging from Led Zeppelin to Elvis Presley performed, the 1979 NBA All-Star Games were hosted, the 1982 Super Bowl was held, and FIFA World Cup games were played in 1994.
He won a national award for Outstanding Engineering Achievement in 1975 for the design and construction of the Silverdome. It was one of 10 projects honored that year, which also included the U.S.-Soviet joint Apollo-Soyes space mission.
He opened his own architectural firm, Micuda Associates, in Pontiac, specializing in the design of schools, office buildings and churches. He remained a consultant for the Silverdome, and was also the consulting architect for the award-winning stadium in Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada.
Among the projects that he enjoyed most were designing an aviary for the Detroit Zoo, a local art gallery, and an award-winning building for the Detroit Auto Association.
In 1989, they retired to Brevard, having been attracted by the similarities that Transylvania County has to the Romanian region of Transylvania, in which he grew up. His “retirement” didn’t last long. He was soon finding ways to give back to the country that he felt had provided him with great opportunities. He designed six homes for Habitat for Humanity, consulted on renovations to the Silvermont Mansion, assisted local churches with additions and renovations, was active in Kiwanas Club, and made deliveries for Meals on Wheels.
Before long, he officially came out of retirement to offer assistance to Brevard College, becoming the college’s on-site project consultant for the Porter Center for Performing Arts, which has earned a reputation as one of the finest performance halls in the South. One of his greatest joys in recent years was having the opportunity to conduct an orchestra in a performance of composer Enescu’s Romanian Rhapsody #1 at the Porter Center, on the same stage, which has subsequently been graced by the likes of Harry Belafonte and Herbie Hancock.
Over the years, he was involved in numerous projects at Brevard College, including overseeing the construction of new dormitories, advising on building modifications, interior design and renovations.
After he lost the ability to drive due to age-related vision problems, he could frequently be seen on campus, driving the “Mike Mobile” golf cart that allowed him to continue his service to the college. At the age of 86, he retired for the third and last time, in order to assist his wife at home.
His final days were spent peacefully and comfortably at the Solace Center in Asheville, surrounded by people whom he loved, and who loved him, and the classical music, which he enjoyed throughout his life.
He will be remembered as a beloved husband, father and grandfather; a lover of art, music and wine; a wonderful storyteller; an optimist; a man of faith, honor and strength; and an exceptional example of growing old gracefully.
His parents, Vasile Micudă and Octavia Darjan Micudă, and his sister, Viorica Făgărășanu, preceded him in death.
He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Marjorie Micudă; daughter, Octavia Micudă Thomas, of Waynesvillle, N.C .; grandsons, Nicholas Constantin Thomas, of Wilmington, N.C. and Alexander Davis Thomas, of Salt Lake City, Utah; niece, Ileana Făgărășanu Gokce, of Brewster, N.Y .; nephew, Constantin Făgărășanu, of Buffalo, N.Y .; grandnephew, James Ritter, of New York City, N.Y .; and grand-nieces, Joanna and Kristina Fogarassi, of Buffalo, N.Y.
A funeral mass will be celebrated Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013, at 2 p.m. at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, in Brevard.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to CarePartners Solace Center, P.O. Box 25338, Asheville, NC 28813. (To give online, go to http://www.carepartners.org/services_hospice_sol.html)
To leave a condolence for the Micuda family, visit “obituaries” at http://www.moore-fh.com.
Moore Funeral Home & Cremation Services are caring for the family.