Wife honors late husband with annual golf scramble

Photos by Brittney Lohmiller/The Herald
Missy Sinnott-Fleck of Jasper, center, helps her children, Tyler, 10, left, and Reese, 12, with their homework before dinner Wednesday evening. Scattered around their home in Jasper are photographs of Sinnott-Fleck’s late husband, Michael Sinnott, who died in a car accident 11 years ago. On Sept. 8 the family will host the 10th annual Michael Sinnott Golf Scramble at the Buffalo Trace Golf Course in memory of him.


JASPER — Missy Sinnott-Fleck’s dreams came true when she was with her late husband, Michael Sinnott.

The Jasper woman always wanted to be a teacher, and she got her first teaching job as a Dubois Middle School language arts teacher. She lived her dream of getting married in a church. She gave birth to two children. She bought a house. She was in love. Her life was moving exactly where she’d always hoped it would.

And then it wasn’t.

Following Michael’s tragic death at 37, Sinnott-Fleck was understandably grief-stricken. Now, more than a decade since a car accident claimed his life, she has honored and preserved his memory annually through a golf scramble that has generated more than $25,000 in scholarships given to local seniors. The Michael Sinnott Golf Scramble will return for its next iteration on Sept. 8 at Buffalo Trace Golf Course. Registration begins at 12:30 p.m., and the cost for a team of four is $200.

Sinnott-Fleck met Michael in 2001, and the two were married in 2004. They met at Garfield’s Restaurant & Pub in Jasper on her birthday. He was a bartender, and when he finished his shift, he joined Sinnott-Fleck and friends when they left and went to another bar. When they dropped Michael off at the end of the night at his apartment, he invited the group in to show them pictures of his then-3-year-old son, Jack. He also saved drawings Jack made, and Sinnott-Fleck said it was evident he adored his boy.

Underneath a blanket made from her late father’s old clothes, Reese works on her homework after soccer practice Wednesday evening.

“That night, I felt like I was going to end up with this guy,” she said.

After the two were wed, Sinnott-Fleck gave birth to her now-12-year-old daughter, Reese, who was just 18 months old at the time of the accident. Tyler, 10, was still in Sinnott-Fleck’s womb when his father died.

Michael was a sales representative for Olinger Distributing — he was named salesman of the year at the company after his death — and drove frequently for work. He loved sports — he was an avid fan of the Chicago Cubs, Indianapolis Colts and Pittsburgh Steelers. He was an artist who loved to sketch and draw. He loved to play cards and the guitar, and had an affinity for animals.

While driving home from Louisville on State Road 64 on an early December evening in 2007, Michael swerved to avoid hitting a stray dog, went off the side of the road into an embankment, flipped, and was ejected from his vehicle. He was life-flighted to Perry County Memorial Hospital, where he died. The last words Michael and his wife said to each other earlier that day were “I love you.”

After that, there were times Sinnott-Fleck didn’t want to get out of bed. Times she didn’t have an appetite. There were days when people would comment to her about how well she was doing, but underneath it all, she was still broken and struggling with Michael’s death.

Sinnott-Fleck credits her family, kids, coworkers and Christian faith with helping her through the grief that followed. She has since remarried — her husband is Brian Fleck — and the couple has a child on the way, but Michael is still a big part of her children’s lives. His picture is placed throughout the house, and the family has held on to things like his baseball card collection and artwork he created. After he passed, Sinnott-Fleck also stitched his clothes into blankets that Reese and Tyler regularly wrap themselves in. They visit his grave a few times a year and talk about him often.

“They’ve got to know their dad,” Sinnott-Fleck said. “They’ve gotta know who he is. And they’ve gotta know that he would have done anything for them.”

Even for those who don’t make it to the golf scramble, Sinnott-Fleck’s overarching message is simple.
“Don’t take those days for granted,” she said, “because you’re not promised (anything).”

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