Michael Edward Houser began writing the second chapter of his life one night in Lansing, Mich., when he asked a woman who caught his eye to dance and she said yes. When he asked her to marry him, she said yes again.
Michael came into the world on Nov. 14, 1951, born to Judy and Fred Houser in Jackson, Mich. He was 67 when he died on July 30, 2019, in Olathe, Kan. Dementia terrorized Michael and his wife of more than 20 years, Lisa Gutierrez Houser, before he died.
Michael spent his life serving others. After graduating from Waverly High School in Lansing in 1969, he joined the U.S. Navy and served as a corpsman stateside during the Vietnam years. He worked as an EMT and a sheriff’s deputy in Lansing and as a registered nurse called to hospice work at the end of his career.
He ran the Detroit Marathon, once had a pet monkey, loved Motown music, cleared snow from neighbors’ driveways and was so enamored of tornadoes – or Helen Hunt? – that he watched the movie “Twister” dozens of times.
He taught Lisa how to fly fish and play golf and took her to her first hockey game at Michigan State. After they married in 1998, Michael and Lisa moved from Rochester, N.Y., to her home state of Kansas when she took a job writing for The Kansas City Star.
She turned Michael into a fan of her alma mater, the University of Kansas, though his heart forever remained with the University of Michigan.
He gave the world three children – Michael Houser Jr., (Christina) of Lansing; Jamie Cooks (Louis) of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Tim Houser in Lansing. He had nine grandchildren and one brother, Jeff, married to Mary in Cleveland, Ohio.
Michael was also a brother-in-law to Lori and Kevin Wickliffe of Lawrence, Kan.; Lydia and Kevin Schmidt of Topeka, Kan.; Andy and Amy Gutierrez of Salisbury, Md., and Ron and Aggie Gutierrez of Overland Park, Kan. He had a “sister from another mother” – Lisa Sandmeyer.
Michael’s 23 nieces and nephews loved their “Uncle Mike.” His dogs – the late Pickett, Daisy and Coco Chanel, and Princess and Tiffany of the home – loved their “Daddy.”
Michael and Lisa made their home on a cul-de-sac in Overland Park, Kan., where the neighbors supported them as Michael went toe-to-toe with dementia.
In his last days as a patient at Olathe Medical Center, Michael flashed his bright blue eyes and wide smile at everyone who walked into his room. Every stranger was a friend.
A Mass of Christian burial will take place at 10:30 a.m Friday, Aug. 2, at Holy Spirit Catholic Church, 11300 W. 103rd St., Overland Park.
Donations may be made to the Olathe Hospice House where Michael found the peace he so deserved. Dementia will rue the day it ever laid its hands on Michael Edward Houser as Lisa prepares to share the final chapter of his story with the world.
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