Story and Photos by Joshua Swanagon
It is with great sadness that I report the loss of industry giant, and good personal friend, Mike Fuller, of TOPS Knives.
It never would have occurred to me, as we spoke on the phone just over a week ago, that I would be writing this today—which poses a strong reminder to take the time to keep in touch with those you love. As Mike would always say to me, none of us are promised tomorrow, make the most of today.
Many will never fully know the impact Mike had on my life and my career, but I will never forget. His encouragement and mentorship, as well as his direct involvement in introducing me to the right people, were a very large part of my success, and the ultimate motivation for my starting Knife & Gear Society. I hope I have done you proud Mike, and I hope that everything I do moving forward honors your memory and support over the years.
I will miss our talks my friend but am grateful for the memories. When I am down or in need of encouragement, I will remember our discussions and your ability to always bring things into perspective. Your voice and infectious smile always had a way of brightening my day and I will be eternally grateful for your friendship.
Until we meet again my friend. Rest in peace and Godspeed. K&G
Official statement from TOPS Knives:
It is with heavy hearts we announce that Mike Fuller, TOPS Knives founder, passed away on Saturday, November 7th, 2020.
He started TOPS Knives in 1998 with the goal of making knives for military and first responders that they could trust with their lives, when they needed them most. Over the years, he was quite successful at doing that and the growth that has come about because of it is the proof.
Mike had a way of connecting easily with people, making them feel comfortable, and helping them succeed with no thought of recompence for himself. He was there with guidance and advice for many in the knife industry whenever they needed it. He embodied the phrase that a rising tide lifts all ships. He was well-respected in almost every endeavor where he found himself, from his military service up until his last days. As Leo puts it, he had the gift of gab. He could sell knives to anyone and was a savvy businessman.
Several years back, Mike officially retired and passed the torch on to Leo. Of course, even in retirement, he was in the shop daily and Leo, even while running TOPS, always said that Mike was his mentor and whenever he needed help with a decision Mike was there. TOPS Knives will continue carrying on the legacy that Mike built by honoring his memory and vision for the company.
It is difficult to put into words just how many lives Mike touched for the better. He will be missed.
Joshua Swanagon has studied survival in both urban and wilderness environments in Colorado and Michigan for most of his life, while also adding experience in harsher terrains abroad. He utilizes his experience and years of diverse martial arts and combatives training and real world application as a self-defense/combatives instructor, published freelance writer and Field Editor for various magazines in the fields of knives, survival, self-defense and tactical subject matters. Joshua also brings with him his years of experience as Editor of, and Subject Matter Expert for Knives Illustrated Magazine.
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