'Little People, Big World' family friend Michael Detjen dies at age 60
By Christopher Rocchio, 06/06/2008
Michael James Detjen, a family friend of the Roloffs who frequently appeared on TLC's Little People, Big World reality series, died early Thursday morning at the age of 60.
Detjen was transported to Providence St. Vincent Medical Center after experiencing chest pains and passing out Wednesday evening at a Hillsboro Soccer Club meeting, The Oregonianreported Thursday. He died during surgery after suffering a torn aorta.
"It is with the deepest sadness and devastation that we must inform our friends and fans of the passing of our extended family member, Mike Detjen," Matt Roloff wrote Thursday on the family's personal website. "For the past eight years Mike has been a business partner, brother, coach, friend, and confidant. He was truly like an uncle to our kids."
Roloff said Detjen being rushed to the hospital from the meeting was a "complete and sudden surprise."
"At the time, it was believed he was having a heart attack. Amy and all our kids rushed to the hospital to be by his side. Coherent and alert, Mike was rushed into emergency surgery for a torn aorta," continued Roloff on the website. "An aortic dissection is very serious, but the prognosis was that they would be able to repair the rupture in the 5+ hour operation. Unfortunately, Mike did not make it through the procedure."
Detjen was a fixture on the Roloffs' Helvetia-area farm in Washington County and is most likely remembered by viewers for being injured during an October 2006 accident involving a pumpkin catapult he constructed. Also injured in the accident was the Roloff's youngest child Jacob. Detjen helped Jacob rebuild the catapult last fall in an effort to teach him to overcome the fear caused by the accident.
"We celebrate Mike's life as one of compassion and service to those he cared about," said Roloff on the website. "He was the driving force behind the area soccer club. He dedicated countless hours and his personal resources to his love of soccer and the local kids that enjoyed it. Mike not only taught my kids to play but how to love the game and practice good sportsmanship as well."
Detjen was previously employed by Intel but took an early retirement to help Roloff start a company that sold kits to hotels to make rooms more accessible to people who have dwarfism, according to The Oregonian.
"He was average height, but he dedicated his heart and soul to that business," Roloff said.
Detjen is survived by his two sons Tim and Jason and in lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to the Hillsboro Soccer Club -- an organization "Mike was the most passionate about," according to Roloff.
"Mike passed with many loved ones and friends that cared deeply for him. We especially extend our condolences to Mike's family," said Roloff. "Our kids are all devastated and beside themselves with grief. We will miss Mike dearly as a friend and loved one."