Mike Brinkman: A Life of Service and Integrity

Mike Brinkman enjoying a Caribbean cruise in 2020 | photo by Marie Brinkman | post by Lynn Lohr

This bayside lifestyle we love so much is made possible in part by the unselfish work of serious professionals. The floating home community lost one of those visionary guardians this autumn: Mill Valley lawyer and realtor Mike Brinkman died on September 17, 2021, only a month after a diagnosis of liver cancer.

Newer members of our community may not know that it was Mike who did much of the writing on the floating homes residency law. He was instrumental in getting floating home registration and titling moved from the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). He served as real estate attorney for many on the docks. In addition, Mike’s decades–long relationship with builders like Ian Moody was literally foundational.

Some of the lucky among us had the great fortune to have Mike represent us when we ventured on to the piers looking to buy that once–in–a–lifetime dream of a home. Mike brought layers of experience and expertise, impeccable honesty, and cheerful unflappability. He may have simply started as your agent, but he became your lifelong friend.

Michael E. Brinkman was born on June 27, 1950 in Philadelphia, and lived in Bucks County, Pennsylvania until moving to California in 1976, and Marin specifically in 1980. He graduated from Golden Gate Law School in 1981. Mike was married to his wife Marie for 30 years and had one son, Michael, now 29.

Mike may have been a lawyer, but he wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. He could fix anything mechanical or electrical—a talent that started in his childhood, as he delighted in working in his uncle’s massive metal recycling yard in Southern New Jersey. He went on to endear himself to all his law school buddies by fixing their cars. Then he built 90 percent of his Marin home and later proceeded to fix anything on any property he owned.

It could be pulling turkey bones from a friend’s garbage disposal to save Thanksgiving, or rebuilding a disabled neighbor’s stove—wherever help was needed, Mike was there with a ready wit and a solution. And as you either remember or try to picture this man as handy with a wrench as he was with a writ, factor in that he also read at least three books a week, and was especially drawn to WWII history.

Mike Brinkman conducted his days with kindness and a smile, making friends with strangers or modestly earning the title as the “Mayor of Mountain Lane” just up the road from our floating kingdom. He lived a life of service and integrity, and it ended too soon.