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Rabbitt, Mike (1940-2020)



  • Existence: 1940-08-17 - 2020-07-04


Michael "Mike" Rabbitt was born on August 17, 1940 in Madison, Wisconsin, to parents Lawrence and Donna Holzaepfel Rabbitt. As a child his family moved to Sandusky, Ohio, where he became interested in heavy industry.

Mike earned a bachelor's degree in Mining Engineering from Case Institute of Technology and a master's degree in Thatrical Arts from Western Reserve University. After graduating, Mike lived variously in New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

Mike met his wife, Patricia Buard, in Chicago. They were married 50 years before her passing in 2017. She was a professional costume designer and amateur science fiction writer.

Professionally, Mike was a professor of theater and stage management at Drexel University. He additionally owned MLR Productions in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, which created set designs for theaters and other entertainment venues, including Sesame Place.

Mike was particularly known for his prowess as a steel mill modeler. As a teenager, he built his first model of a blast furnace, based on prints from either Koppers or McKee company. This model was featured in Model Railroader Magazine, which sparked interest from notable modelers in cluding Dean Freytag. Within a decade, Rabbitt's prints were being advertised in Model Railroader and his works were published elsewhere, including Dean Freytag's "The History, Making and Modeling of Steel," Nevin Yakel's "Bethlehem Steel Railroading," and Bob Wilt's "Bethlehem Steel Co. Railroad Operations."

Mike additionally collaborated with John Glaab, having met in the 1990s. Together, they collaborated on the inaugural meeting of the Steel Mill Modelers in 2004. Mike became a founding board member of the Steel Mill Modeler's Special Interest Groupo at its formation in 2013.

Mike's encyclopedic knowledge and drawings benefited modelers across the globe. In addition to Dean Freytag, Ken McCorry, Jim Kerner, Glenn Sonnier, Vince Altiere, and Rob Arthur all utilized Rabbitt's drawings. Rabbitt's own models were notable as well. His sintering plant model won the Dean Freytag Award in 2011.

His models were ultimately donated to the St. Albans railroad Club located in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, with his extensive archival collection of drawings and other ephemera going to the Industrial Archives & Library in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

In 2016, Mike and his wife, Pat, sold their home in King of Prussia. Soon after his wife passed in 2017. Two years later he moved to Massachusetts to be closer to family. In spring 2020, Mike was admitted to a medical facility before passing on July 4, 2020.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Mike Rabbitt collection

Identifier: IAL-2020-002
Scope and Contents

The majority of this collection is the drawings drawn by Mike Rabbitt for use by modelers.

Dates: Majority of material found within 1975 - 2015