Michael Lapisky
1944 - 2021
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Michael Lapisky, 76, of Narragansett, R.I. passed away peacefully on Monday, January 4, 2021. He is survived by his loving wife of 51 years Susan (DeMagistris) Lapisky.Born in Providence, he was the son of the late Michael & Mary Lapisky and the brother of the late John Lapisky. Michael was part of a large and loving family including sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law and many nieces and nephews. He leaves behind many close friends and colleagues. Michael graduated from Warwick Veterans High School and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Natural Resource Management from the University of Rhode Island. He began his career as a Wildlife Biologist with the State of Rhode Island in the Department of Environmental Management in 1972 and retired in 2008 as Chief of the Division of Fish and Wildlife. He fulfilled his lifelong passion of caring for and preserving the wildlife and environmental treasures of Rhode Island. Michael lived in Narragansett for many years and generously gave back to his community by serving on various boards and commissions. He was the chairman of the Narragansett Zoning Board and the Narragansett Conservation Commission. After retiring, he became a member of the Master Gardner Program at the University of Rhode Island. He spent many hours volunteering where ever he was needed, and in 2019 won the Roseanne Sherry Distinguished Educator Award. Burial will be private and calling hours are respectfully omitted. In lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be made in Michael's name to the Hope Health Center, 1085 North Main Street, Providence, R.I. 02904. For guest book and condolences please visit averystortifuneralhome.com

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Published in The Providence Journal on Jan. 8, 2021.
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Memories & Condolences
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3 entries
January 11, 2021
Sue, I received the deadening news of Mike Lapisky’s leaving us with sadness. Mike was my first mentor for the Master Gardener Hotline from 2015 until 2020. My first workshop was on propagation in the greenhouse classroom. I looked, and expected to see, Vanessa our new Director there; but quietly there in a seat near the back I noticed a guy who smiled and nodded at me. I learned he was Mike Lapisky, quietly nodding, smiling, and taking in who was there; learning by example to see if there was something new.
After that first class, I left my volunteering in the greenhouses because I was invited to join the Thursday Hotline group. I started on Thursday’s with Mike where Carol and her husband, and Gina were busy answering the phones and researching gardening answers, with occasional visits from Rosie.
First, Mike said soil tests, so I learned to soil test, then to test and validate the meters. Then about the soil and how to interpret their Ph values, and how to foster better soils, and to accompany the gardener’s soil test answers, either online or in person, with individualizing for each lawn, vegetable(s), or flower(s). I learned about “Mow, Blow and Go,” and the “Lawn Rangers.”
At Mike’s urging, I moved on to researching questions on-line, sometimes about diseases in nurseries, and sometimes to sites weird and wonderful with gardening or research knowledge on the World Wide Web. Next, I volunteered to answer e-mails through the winter, which was great as I could do it from afar. All this on a journey propagated and prompted by Mike’s gentle interest, tremendous people skills, great insights, humor, and that human touch so few have with their encouragement. Mike always entered the room with a kind word, or a shake of the hand, or “What’s Hot today?” During the pandemic Mike sent out humorous jokes that relieved the searches. As I got to know him more, we would discuss our medical experiences, and share knowledge about treatments we had heard of. Mike was the master of the personal.
During all these Mike-propagated adventures we were graduated to answering phone calls. Mike had a keen eye for the gardeners who called in, and we assiduously adhered to Mike’s “Listen to them, understand what they need, always get their number, and get back to them today; or tell them when or how they will be contacted.” I remember telling him about a beaver dam I had seen from the bike path, and he gave me a contact at the Fish and Wildlife Service, and they looked at the dam.
I learned that some callers like to call back and ask for people who do a good job with the research and want different questions answered. Mike was always the highest on that list, and Hotline questions that could not be answered on other days, would filter down to Thursdays when Mike would answer them.
Today Sue, on my walk up 1A to the spot where there is a bridge that spans the Narrow River, I noticed a new sign as I paused to view the river above the John Chafee Reserve. The sign from US Fish and Wildlife tells the story Remembering the Shack on Sedge Island, and I was instantly struck by Mike’s thoughtful kindnesses, his persistence in mentoring so many different wonderful people’s paths, before he moved them to another Hotline day.
As I stood, I remembered Mike’s committal to the environment, to the outdoors, and to gardening in an ecologically, scientifically friendly way. Mike’s role in encouraging Native plants and habitats. The world is less of a place without Mike Lipisky, but he lives on in many Hotliners hearts and minds, in my heart and mind, as well as in the many other lives he touched.
Hugh McCracken
January 8, 2021
Rest In Peace my friend. Mike you were a friend and funny guy. I remember fondly our days at Sand Hill Cove.
Tom Burke, Creston MT
Tom Burke
January 8, 2021
Susan and the Lapisky family I’m so sorry to hear of Michael’s passing and offer my condolences to you. Michael was a wonderful colleague and friend during my career at RI Fish and Wildlife. He was a fair and helpful person who always gave of himself. He was the best boss I ever had. He was a staunch defender of wildlife resources and dedicated his life’s work to that end. He will be missed. Rest In Peace Mike.
Brian Tefft
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