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People Top 5
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- June 01, 1998
- Vol. 49
- No. 21
Called from the Pulpit, Mike Stange Has the Tools to Answer Prayers
Granted, it's not as impressive as, say, parting a sea or turning water into wine. But Stange's work on the cars of hundreds of church members has gained him accolades as the "Angel Mechanic"—and a 1997 appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show. A full-time operations superintendent at the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Stange says the recipients of his largesse are often single mothers with "real needs. I started appreciating their struggles in life." While fixing their cars, he adds, "I show them how to do it themselves, so they're not freaked out when they open the hood." Says Laura Stone, a single mom raising two teenage boys (and who learned from Stange not to put motor oil in the power-steering reservoir): "It's nice to know there are people there for you, like Mike, to help you when your money is tight."
A Southern California native who worked as a diesel mechanic in the Navy, Stange occasionally passes on major repairs. "I have a life too," he points out, one that includes his wife of 23 years, Tawny, 45, a retired customer-service manager he lives with in Hacienda Heights, and their son Jason, 24, an MTA service attendant. Still, he says, "I get such an appreciation from doing this. I have a good time, I get to meet people, and on top of that I know that I'm helping them." But there's one perk he doesn't get. "I guess if I was a single guy," he says with a little smile, "I'd really be having a good time."
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