Michael John Pontrelli
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September 6, 1937
January 24, 2013
Michael was born in Los Angeles to John and Rosalie Pontrelli and passed away, age 75 at his home in Sparks.
When Michael was a teen, he yearned to leave the concrete of L.A. behind. After a year at UCLA, he headed north to Humboldt State College where he majored in biology and immersed himself in the outdoors. After obtaining his undergraduate degree in 1959, he became a graduate student at Cal Berkeley, earning his Ph.D in Zoology in 1966.
After graduating, he taught biological sciences at the University of Syracuse, University of Nevada, Reno, and Sierra Nevada College.
While at UNR he started a Wild Horse program and also worked with Wild Horse Annie. His focus was to protect not only the horses, but the rangeland. Wild Horse Annie learned about wild life biology, soils, and ecology from Michael. She and Michael were largely responsible for the passage of the Wild Horse and Burro Act that passed into federal law in 1971.
He worked with Nevada Department of Wildlife in regard to impact of wild horses on habitat. Also, he served on the National Wild Horse Advisory Board. Later he became a biological consultant for various firms in northern Nevada and at the Tonopah Test Range in the south.
Michael loved teaching and his students loved him. But more important than his profession was his love for family and friends. A true outdoorsman, he enjoyed hunting, fishing, and camping. His fun-loving nature infused his outdoor adventures, his work and his family life. A great cook, he loved to prepare Italian or Chinese feasts, all the while joking and laughing with family and guests. His open heart and wonderful sense of humor drew everyone to him.
The greatest husband, brother, dad, and granddad ever, he left behind his wife Jeany, his sister Catherine Gallego, his children Gregory and wife Dawn, Scott and wife Goldie, and Michele Salerno and husband Joe. He also left behind stepchildren Lynne Goodrich and husband Ed, Gary Nelson and wife Debbie, and Christopher Nelson. Much loved were his grandchildren, Sarah and Ashlie Nelson, Sierra Pontrelli, Robyn Pontrelli, and Alessandro and Ariana Salerno.
A celebration of life will be held Saturday, February 2, 2:00 p.m. at Circle's Edge Center for Spiritual Living Church in the Village Center at California Ave. and Booth St.
Gifts may be made to the local Parkinson Disease or
s, Circle of Life Hospice, or Circle's Edge Spiritual Center.
Published in Reno Gazette-Journal from Jan. 31 to Feb. 1, 2013