Meet Mickey Risken, World War II veteran and Carlton Senior Living’s spotlight resident — Maurice “Mickey” Risken was born December 16, 1925 in Potrerillos, Chile. His parents met and married in 1924 in Montana where his father worked for Anaconda Copper Mining Company. The couple soon moved to Chile to help build a new refinery and quickly started their family. Mickey and his younger sister, Gail, grew up learning both English and Spanish. Every three years the family would take a three month vacation and the most memorable trip for Mickey was taken in 1940 when his family visited the United States to tour many of the national parks in the West.
Mickey returned to the United States in July 1941 to attend high school in Sacramento, but was not allowed to graduate as he was required to sign up for the draft instead. He started basic training at Camp Roberts in California in February 1944. He served as a combat soldier in General Patton’s Third Army and was involved in the Battle of the Bulge. When the war in Europe was over, Mickey’s unit spent time in Austria guarding 31,000 prisoners of war and in his spare time he learned to ski.
When Mickey returned home as a veteran of war, he went to college in Sacramento as well as the Montana School of Mines and Engineering and then later the University of Berkeley for Geological Engineering Sciences. During this time, he joined the National Ski Patrol in which his unit designed ski runs and lift locations for the Squaw Valley Resort and he eventually tried out for the Olympics, but failed to qualify.
In 1953 he met his first wife, Virginia, at Cal Berkeley. She had two boys; John and Jared, whom Mickey adopted and raised as his own sons. Mickey and Virginia had two sons together; Philip and Forrest while Mickey began working for construction companies building concrete dams. Over a period of forty years, he managed the construction of seven major dams all over the Western United States, including installing the last power unit at Hoover Dam. He later worked for Sprint Telephone Company building cell sites until he suffered a massive heart attack in 2001. After heart surgery, Mickey was in a coma for a month caused by a MRSA infection.
Mickey and Virginia lived in Walnut Creek and enjoyed sixty years of marriage until her passing in 2013. Mickey knew he must move to a community which could meet his care needs. He chose Carlton Senior Living Concord as his new home and soon met Marjorie, an outgoing fellow resident. The two hit it off and were married on October 25, 2014 in the courtyard of CSL Concord surrounded by family and friends. Later, the newly-wed couple moved to Carlton Senior Living Pleasant Hill where Mickey enjoys sharing the stories of his family and his many unique life experiences. Mickey is proud of the legacy he has created through his four sons, eight grandchildren, ten great grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.
Carlton Senior Living applauds the courage and valor displayed by our many brave veterans like Mickey. To our men and women in uniform, past, present, and future, we honor you and thank you for your service and sacrifice.
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Written by Patrick Coleman