Saturday, July 15, 2023
11:00 AM EDT
Second Congregational Church
525 Cheshire Drive NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49505
Friends are invited to begin visiting with his family at the church beginning at 10 AM.
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
With a quick wit, and an adventurous, persevering spirit, Michael Mann lived a life rich in family and friends. Determined to live life to the fullest, Michael met each day with gratitude and cherished his relationships with others. Regardless of life's hardships, Michael chose to focus on what was possible and inspired goodwill and laughter along the way. He loved people, made friends easily, and never shied from sharing his life with others. A cherished son, brother, uncle, and friend, Michael will long be remembered and so very missed.
1968 was a year of high emotion. While the peace movement continued to gain momentum in the wake of the war in Vietnam, and the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy rocked the nation, the Beatles sang of "Revolution" and Cream of the "Sunshine of Your Love." People around the nation sunk their teeth into the first Big Macs, and the first Boeing 747 made its maiden flight. Nowhere was there more excitement than in the home of Garth and Suzanne (Wirth) Mann as they welcomed their son, Michael, to their family on November 13 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The second of the four Mann children, Michael was one when the family moved to Diamond Street, the only house he remembered living in. Sadly, his youngest sister died as an infant. Growing up with strong family values, Michael was an adventurous, outgoing kid who could and would befriend anyone. He naturally connected with people of all ages and loved playing outdoors with his many friends. While he had a short fuse, his flash temper quickly burned out, and he'd return to his easygoing ways.
Michael attended Eastern Elementary, Northeast Middle School, and then Central High School. Though very intelligent, his academic performance did not reflect his abilities, as he often refused to do "stupid" assignments. He played football his freshman year, was on the swim team for three years, and loved being a golf caddy at nearby Kent Country Club. For a time, he worked at Time Out and, later, Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Summer afforded many adventures. Weekends were spent at the family's trailer at Pickerel Lake in Newaygo. Michael knew all the kids his age from around the lake, and they found all sorts of adventures there. They were constantly in the water boating, skiing, tubing, and making great summer memories. He mowed lawns to buy gas for the boats. In the evenings, they would go to the local skating rink in Fremont.
Michael's life changed drastically on the Friday before Memorial Day in 1986; tragedy struck when he ran into the water and suffered a severe neck injury. Despite becoming a quadraplegic, he maintained a zest for life and was often the source of fun in those early days in the hospital and Mary Free Bed, rallying others to enjoy some entertainment. His recovery was inspired by his focus on what people told him he could do versus what he was told he couldn't do. Once focused on what was possible, he would challenge himself to make it happen. The first time doing something was always challenging, but his stubbornness and ingenuity always paid off. It was amazing the tasks he accomplished with his limited movement. He could type quickly and accurately, and the things he could do with his mouth stick amazed people; he even figured out how to unwrap a Starburst!
After graduating from Central High School, Michael attended Grand Rapids Community College, where he took classes for many years as he tried to figure out what he wanted to do. His true intelligence began to show in college, and he earned a degree in computer science. Michael had been working at Equity Transportation, a trucking company, and after his accident continued, moving to an office position and working as a dispatcher for 13 years. Then he worked for Radio Transfer as a dispatcher at night and in billing and payroll as well. While between jobs and searching for something new, he connected with his uncle's company, Legacy Bio Design. Working as the company's website administrator, he quickly found that the work fit his meticulous nature.
Very sharp and well-organized, Michael had a great sense of his life. His outstanding records helped him apply for and receive benefits that helped support his well-being. He also competed with the Grand Rapids Eagles, a track and field team, traveling with them to Winnipeg, New York, and Texas. He continued to love the water, tubing, and spending many hours boating with his parents. He was even able to go skiing in Florida, where he spent the winter months for several years. Spending time outdoors during the summertime made it his favorite season.
Michael loved music. He had an eclectic taste, but the classic songs of the 80s proved his favorites. He helped his grandma and aunt with their personal finances and enjoyed time on the computer playing games and staying in touch with people through social media. He enjoyed talking on the phone, and his tenderheartedness was always obvious when he interacted with kids. He welcomed their questions, took them for rides in his chair, and let them ride up his car lift.
With his quick wit, hilarious one-liners, and love of life, Michael relished every moment. He and his family shared a language all their own with words with uncommon meanings and much laughter along the way. Without a doubt, Michael's tremendous will, positive outlook, and care from his family afforded him a life filled with many good times. Sadly, over the years, the challenges of more health complications grew insurmountable.
In the absence of Michael's steadfast positivity, humor, and determination, may we find much comfort in our many treasured memories. May we also find comfort in carrying his legacy of adventure, humor, and determination forward. Whenever we spend time on the lake, confidently meet life's challenges, choose love over fear, and share a full-bellied laugh, we will celebrate all the ways Michael gifted our lives. In this way, we will keep his big and beautiful spirit alive and inspiring others as he so inspired each of us.
Michael Allen Mann, age 54, of Grand Rapids, passed away July 2, 2023. He is survived by his parents, Garth and Sue Mann; siblings Bill & Tracey Mann, Roxann & Ken Bird; nieces and nephews Cindy (Jerry) Helger, Chris (fiancee Nicole) Mann, Andrew (fiancée Desiree) Mann, Ellie Mann; and many friends.
The service to remember and celebrate his life will be held at 11 AM on Saturday, July 15, at Second Congregational Church, where friends are invited to visit with his family beginning at 10 AM. For those who wish, memorial contributions to the Alzheimer's Association are appreciated. To read more about Michael, share a memory, or sign his guestbook, visit www.heritagelifestory.com