Cover photo for Michael Mayer's Obituary
1956 Michael 2021

Michael Mayer

February 8, 1956 — November 24, 2021

Michael John Mayer Michael John (Mike) Mayer, 65 passed away peacefully on November 24, 2021, in Missoula, MT with his beloved wife Susan by his side. Mike was born February 8, 1956, at Fort Bragg, NC to Anna Jeanne Knox of Dell, MT, and Dee Leslie Mayer of Ogden, UT while Dee was in training in the US Army. As a young boy, Mike lived in Twin Falls, ID, where Mike’s brother Rex was born in 1961. The family soon moved to Dillon, MT where Mike attended elementary school and made many friends. In April 1965, at 9 years of age, Mike’s father Dee was killed in a plane crash near Dell, MT. A few days later, his brother Dan was born. Mike was very devoted to, and protective of his family. In August 1968, Anna Jeanne married David Moss, of Lima, MT and the Mayer family moved to the Moss ranch east of Lima to join new brothers Jim and Levi, and sisters Wendy and Renee. There Mike had many adventures with his new family, snowmobiling, working with cattle and sheep, riding horses, haying, and all the things that go along with ranch life. He was not a fan of riding horses and said that he much preferred to ride his motorcycle. Mike attended Lima Schools, graduating in 1974. He was extremely intelligent, and was an exceptional athlete, setting the school’s long jump record on the old dirt runway with a jump of 21’ 4.5”, which stood for many years. He loved playing sports, particularly football and basketball, and was a fierce competitor. He loved the outdoors, spending time with family and friends, hunting and fishing, riding motorcycles, and driving fast cars. His first fast car was a 1965 Plymouth Barracuda, then came a Plymouth Roadrunner, followed by a Dodge Challenger. On April 23, 1976, Mike’s life changed drastically when he was severely injured in an automobile accident, which left him paralyzed from the neck down. He eventually regained partial use of his arms, and shortly after this accident, Mike’s family was informed that he would most likely not live to see his 40th birthday. His love of life, determination, positive attitude, and love of others helped him to live far beyond that prediction. Those who have been able to know him have been blessed beyond measure by his patience, kindness, compassion, quick wit, and keen sense of humor. Following his injury, Mike attended the U of M in Missoula, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in the Classics in 1983. He was an avid fan of the Griz sports teams, particularly football, and was especially delighted with their recent win over the Bobcats. Mike began work for Summit Independent Living Center in 1985 and shortly afterwards became the executive director there, a position he held until his death. Mike was very dedicated to the many people he was able to serve through his years at Summit. He was greatly loved and respected by all who knew him. He was hardworking and kind, a great boss and co-worker. On November 25, 1995, Mike married Susan Webb of Missoula. Mike deeply loved Sue, they were a great team, and enjoyed 26 years together. Attending Griz football games was a favorite activity, working on their home and yard, gardening, and restoring Mike’s classic 1967 Barracuda. Mike loved the Missoula area, and the people there. His resolve to make the most of his life and his choice to be happy, positive and to serve others was truly inspirational. He will be greatly missed. Mike is survived by his wife Susan, stepson Tim (Angelica) Nelson and granddaughters Amaurah and Aveah Nelson, stepfather David Moss, brother Jim (Lorrie) Moss, sister Wendy (Bert) McLaughlin, sister Renee (David) Neumann, Sister-in-law Jana (Levi) Moss, brother Rex, (Tammie) Mayer, and brother Dan (Angie) Mayer, and their families. He was preceded in death by his father Dee Mayer, mother Anna Jeanne Moss, and brother Levi, Moss. In Mike’s own words: “My life philosophy has changed so much over the years. I’ve come to realize that we do have control over our lives. I know that sounds strange from somebody sitting in a wheelchair. I’ve learned that if you make up your mind, you can do a lot of things, it just might not be in the way you had originally envisioned doing them.” Mike worked as the Executive Director of Summit Independent Living, a non-profit organization based in Missoula that provides a variety of consumer focused services designed to improve the independence, self-confidence, and self-advocacy skills of people with disabilities as well as social change advocacy designed to combat discrimination and promote the development of needed resources, programs, and policies to reduce attitudinal, architectural, and communication barriers for people with all types of disabilities, for 33 years. He believed fully in the independent living philosophy that disability is a natural part of life and that people with disabilities should be in control of their own lives and be free to make their own choices in the same way that people without disabilities do; the philosophy that drives Summit’s mission to advance the independence and civil rights of people with disabilities. Mike’s most recent goal as Executive Director was to begin implementing and see through to fruition a capital campaign ending in the construction of a universally accessible, innovative, and welcoming building that Summit could call home and offer a more robust and holistic array of services to further the mission of Summit and advance the independence of people with disabilities across western Montana. In pursuit of this goal, Mike led summit to embark on a $3.5 million capital fundraising campaign to support the construction of a new office building located at 145 S. Russell St. in Missoula. In continuing Mike’s legacy to fully realize the lofty goals and expectations that Mike had set for Summit’s work towards improving the lives and social standing of all people with disabilities, the family requests that in lieu of flowers, that any remembrances for Mike be made in the form of contributions to Summit Independent Living to support their fundraising campaign and complete Mike’s vision of a new, innovative and fully accessible Summit office building that not only provides a more comfortable, modern, and humanizing experience for the individuals receiving services but one that can serve as a model of inclusion and diversity and be welcoming to all. Donations can be made online at www.summitilc.org/donate or can be mailed or dropped off at Summits’ current office located at 700 SW Higgins, Suite 101, Missoula, MT 59803. The Celebration of life will be held on June 18, 2022 at 11:00 am in the Lima High School gym. Afterward, there will be a luncheon in the school multi-purpose room.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Michael Mayer, please visit our flower store.

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