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Jul
18
2024
Obituaries

Michael Day Malone

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Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina — Mike Malone’s life story embodied the American Dream.

He rose from modest Midwest roots to achieve success as an investment banker in Charlotte, North Carolina — traveling the world, rising to the top of his profession, finding joy in giving back to others. Mike understood the true meaning of success. He cherished his family above all. He put education, especially his children’s, first. He was a loyal friend. 

He could talk to anyone, whether it was closing a deal over dinner or enjoying a conversation with the men and women who served the meal. He expressed his strong faith through his charitable spirit, whether it was giving to Hospice, United Way, Christ Episcopal Church, the arts, law enforcement causes or the Allegro Foundation to benefit kids with special needs. 

Even when Mike lived inpatient at the Mayo Clinic in August 2022 to be treated for cancer, he spent his spare time volunteering at Ronald McDonald House, forging friendships and adding light to the lives of many. His story was the best of the American Dream come true. 

Michael Day Malone died unexpectedly yet peacefully in his sleep at the family’s mountain home 12 days before he was to undergo heart surgery for the second time. He was 70. 

Mike, as most everyone knew him, grew up in Yellow Springs Ohio, the oldest of John and Patricia Malone’s six children. His parents were educators, which explains Mike’s lifelong love of learning. He rode his bicycle all over town, mowed lawns and served as an altar boy at church. He attended the University of Kentucky, where he earned a B.S. degree in general studies in 1976 and developed a lifelong passion for Wildcat sports, especially basketball. He started his career in commercial banking with Citizens & Southern National Bank before deciding to pursue his passion for deal-making through investment banking. He joined North Carolina National Bank in Charlotte in 1984. NCNB eventually became Bank of America. 

Mike put down professional and personal roots in Charlotte. He rose to become a senior executive with Bank of America, running a number of investment banking businesses, including real estate, gaming, lodging and leisure, and the financial sponsorship businesses. He did so well that Bank of America’s legendary CEO, Hugh McColl Jr., one year awarded Mike the “Baccarat Crystal Hand Grenade for Unparalleled Performance.” Mr. McColl was legendary for keeping hand grenades around the office, thus his tough guy persona. 

Mike’s love of golf led to what he considered his greatest business achievement: He helped structure the deal that led an American consortium to buy back the legendary Pebble Beach Golf Course in California from a Japanese company. The nearly 30 years that Mike called Charlotte home offered blessings beyond banking. He met his wife, Julie, in 1996 on a blind date set up by friends. Their first date? Dinner at Primo Prime. When the romance turned serious, Mike surprised Julie by taking her to Tiffany’s in New York to choose her favorite from among three engagement rings he had preselected. The “winner” was inscribed “4/1/96 INF” — April 1, 1996, I’m No Fool.” That trip included an added bonus. Mike and Julie cheered on his Kentucky Wildcats to the NCAA basketball title in nearby East Rutherford, New Jersey. 

Mike and Julie were married on July 10, 1998. Together, they raised their children, Jack and Jenna, in Charlotte. They took them as teenagers to Primo Prime to show them where it all began. Mike retired from Bank of America in 2007 after nearly 24 years and became a Managing Director of Fortress Investment Group LLC from 2008-2012. He was in charge of its Charlotte office and led the firm’s capital formation across the Southeast. Though formally retired at the time of his passing, he was a board member and lead director for Walker & Dunlop, a commercial real estate finance and advisory company. He also served on the board of Mr. Cooper Group, a family of companies that provide mortgage services and products. Empty nesters, the Malones moved to John’s Island, Florida, in 2020, where Mike discovered a new community of friends and neighbors with whom to share life. 

Mike is survived by his wife, Julie; two children — their son, Jack, of Dallas, and Jenna, a rising junior at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee; his mother, Patricia Day, of Fayetteville, North Carolina; three sisters, Mollye Malone and Amy Fugate, both of Springville, Ohio, and Margaret Larson and her husband, Michael, of Fayetteville, N.C.; and one brother, John Malone and his wife, Kathryn, of Yellow Springs, Ohio. He was preceded in death by his father, John Edward Malone, and sister, Kathleen Malone. 

A service to celebrate Mike’s life will be at 3 p.m. Friday, June 14, at Christ Episcopal Church, 1412 Providence Road, Charlotte. The service will be livestreamed at christchurchcharlotte.org/watch-live-funerals. Visitation follows at Quail Hollow Country Club, 3700 Gleneagles Road, where he enjoyed the friendships and laughter as much as the golf. 

One of Mike’s proudest accomplishments came in 2017 when he launched a fellowship program at the University of Kentucky in partnership with the nonprofit organization Management Leadership for Tomorrow. The objective was to prepare lower-income students of color for jobs at major business institutions, thus transforming their families’ economic trajectory. Immediately, the career outcomes for the first 20 Mike Malone fellows showed tremendous success and attracted additional support from other major foundations. Today, more than 260 students at the university are benefiting from what Mike started. 

A gift in Mike’s memory can be made to the Michael D. Malone Memorial Fund at University of Kentucky to help in-state students attend UK. Gifts can go to UK Philanthropy, P.O. Box 23552, Lexington, Ky. 40506. You can also go to http://www.uky.edu, click the “Give Now” button and designate your gift in memory of Mike Malone. Gifts can also go to Christ Episcopal Church (www.christchurchcharlotte.org), 1412 Providence Road, Charlotte, N.C. 28207. 

The family is deeply grateful for the care and kindness shown by Dr. Geoffrey Rose and Atrium Health Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute. What a life. After his first heart surgery in 2019 at age 65, a stroke forced him to learn to read again. How he loved books, especially historical fiction. He loved sports, too, including the Panthers, and relished memories of taking his father and then Jack and Jenna to numerous Final Fours for Kentucky. There was nothing better than taking the family to dinner. BrickTop’s and Toscana were favorites. His favorite moments at Grandfather Mountain were spent cruising the Blue Ridge Parkway with the top down, dinners with the family, and afternoons on the golf course with his son. Ever the romantic, his favorite movie was “My Fair Lady,” a musical about the power of love. For his 60th birthday, his son toasted him by singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” It was the song he sang to his children as they fell asleep throughout their childhood. 

Mike’s lifelong heart defect wasn’t discovered until he was in his 30s. He learned as much as he could about it from books and talking with friends. He was never afraid, always optimistic, even after his first heart surgery. The day after he was told he’d need a second heart surgery, Mike, unable to sleep, texted Julie at 1:45 a.m. It read in part: “I have great faith and optimism that I will successfully come through all of this in the next few months. I only ask that you provide Jack and Jenna the same optimism … that I will beat all of these problems. It may not be easy but I will succeed. My love for the three of you is the greatest gift of my life, and I want many more years of it together.” Spoken like a man with a heart full of strength and love. 

Reins-Sturdivant Funeral Home in Newland, North Carolina., is taking care of the family. Online condolences can be shared at http://www.rsfh.net.

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