Michael Gordon Smith
1949 - 2021
Smith, Michael Gordon 1/11/1949 - 6/25/2021 Ann Arbor Michael Gordon Smith of Ann Arbor died at his home on Friday, June 25, 2021 at the age of 72. The son of Gordon and Areta (Miller) Smith, Michael was born on January 11, 1949, in Jackson, MI. He was a 1967 graduate of Napoleon High School and attended the University of Michigan, graduating in 1971 with a degree in English and history. Following in his father's footsteps, Michael pursued a career in education, teaching for 5 years at Grass Lake High School and for 28 years at Saline High School before retiring from the classroom in 2005. From junior high on, Mike successfully balanced academics and athletics. He participated in football, cross country, basketball, baseball and track. Although he was extremely successful on the basketball court, running became his passion and in many ways was a guiding force throughout his life. After completing his track career at the University of Michigan, Mike channeled his athletic ambitions into coaching and long distance running. He was one of the approximately 150 participants in the inaugural Dexter-Ann Arbor Run, and he completed numerous marathons including the 100th running of the Boston Marathon. Known as one of the most outstanding and beloved teachers in Saline, "Mr. Smith" guided hundreds of students to become capable writers, and he worked tirelessly to instill a commitment to learning, a love of literature and an ability to think freely and independently. Because of his dedication and hard work, the Advanced Placement U.S. History program at Saline High School was among the most successful in the area. Mike's mentorship and guidance of young people carried over from the classroom to the sidewalks and roads of Saline where hundreds of his runners, in both track and cross country, logged thousands of miles as they worked to become successful/dedicated/elite athletes, devoted team members, and most importantly, good people. "Coach" led his teams with integrity, enthusiasm and commitment to both the sport and his runners. Coach created a positive and inclusive culture where young men and women could be part of something that brought out the best in each individual, which included being supportive and responsible to the team. He connected with everyone and shared his belief that, "The person you thought you were is no match for the one you really are." Saline runners achieved success at all levels with conference, regional and state championships. Many of his athletes went on to run at universities around the country. Some became teachers and coaches. By far, Mike's greatest legacy could be traced to the hundreds of student-athletes who incorporated healthy behaviors, a commitment to fitness and a strong work ethic into their daily lives. "Saline CC Forever" was not just a catch phrase but rather a pledge to continue to represent the team, the community, their families and themselves at the highest possible level. Mike was an avid reader, a life-long learner, a downhill skier, and a dedicated Michigan fan. He valued time with his family and traveling with his wife of 28 years and best friend, Mary. His spirit, poise, charisma, and devotion are legend. His was a race well run. Those who knew him will not forget. Those who loved him will keep him close. Mike was preceded in death by his father, Gordon, his mother, Areta and his brother-in-law Jack Kaufman. He will always be found in the thoughts of his wife, Mary; his four sisters, Karyn Kaufman, Judy Robinson (Joe), Stephanie Smith (Carmine) and Jill Finch (Roy); his sons, Travis (Ning) and Ryan (Zuzana); his step-daughter Megan Pashnik (Erik); his seven grandchildren – Jasmina, Hunter, Xavier, Mason, Summer, Anne, and Max; and his many nieces and nephews. At his request there will be no funeral service. Those who wish to leave a memory or tribute may do so on the CaringBridge website: https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/mikesmith21 Donations in Mike's name can be made to the Coach Smith Scholarship Fund: http://www.friendsofsalinexc.org/donate
Published by Ann Arbor News from Jun. 27 to Jun. 28, 2021.
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12 Entries
I am proud to say that I was Mike's High School Track and Cross Country coach. None of his successes surprises me.
Bob Dreyer
Friend
July 1, 2021
The Smith family is full of wonderful and talented people, though, you might not ever be aware of their accomplishments unless you learned of it from some-one other than them. Or, as in Mike's case, had an area that was shared publicly by his successes as a coach, and through his legacy with his athletes as a coach and mentor. My sorrow to all the Smith family, and I know that you each share a pride along with your sense of loss, of a life very well lived. Glad to share some time with those of you at Jeff's and Melissa's wedding. Love and Peace be with you.
David Harper
Family
July 1, 2021
Jill and Smith Family, My childhood memories growing up was seeing Mike run around the block (several times I might add) then straight into Ackerson Lake and swimming to the sandbar with a bar of soap. Another memory was Mike high up on the extension ladder scrapping and painting your parents home. When your dad passed, the eulogy Mike honored your dad with at the funeral was presented with such grace and passion that he truly made all of us present that day feel like we were on that final flight as your dad's co-pilot. Sandy and I will never forget that beautiful eulogy. What a rewarding life, career and legacy Mike left for all of those close to him. Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Smith family.
Doug & Sandy Nall
Friend
June 29, 2021
Jill and family, my sympathies to you and your family.
Dee (Heselschwerdt) Ferens
June 28, 2021
Jill and Family, Sorry to read of the passing of your brother. Thinking of you and hopefully we'll see you at our 50th.
Jack & Char Raby (Arizona)
June 28, 2021
Please keep Joe Barton running along side you!
Kathy Barton
Other
June 27, 2021
We were neighbors and friends of Mike's family for many years while Mike was in high school. His parents, Gordon & Areta, set the bar high for dedication and achievement, and Mike, as well as his sisters, lived up to their expectations. For Mike to have contributed to the success of so many students is a legacy of a life well lived. Our sincere condolences to all of Mike's family, Russ & Sandy Davis
Russ & Sandy Davis
June 27, 2021
One of the most outstanding mentors and friend a person could have and countless numbers of us could exalt in Coach's ability to bring out the best in us...as athletes and human beings...my times with him is one of my favorite parts of my life. Thank you Coach for always being there for us and your family...please keep an eye on us and continue to guide us with your wisdom. We will never forget you.
Jacob Stempky
Friend
June 27, 2021
Dear Señora Thomas and family, My heart goes out to you. Coach was one of the most special people I have ever met. When I was a new to SHS as a freshman, cross country brought me the community I needed at such a big school. Some of the most cherished memories are the years with xc and track, staying late in Coach's office for help with my college essays and AP English, and spending time with you Señora Thomas in class and after school. When I was injured as a senior and couldn't run the last season as a captain, I was encouraged by coach to take on new leadership roles for the team. What wasn't expected was how this would turn into a growth opportunity for me and a chance to make stronger connections with the girls on the team. I will miss Coach and know he is watching down on us, wanting us to run for him and never stop running the own race of our lives. I will be praying for you Señora Thomas and your family. I want you to know how much you and coach mean to me. He will be so missed. <3
Kayleigh Luttrell (Cross Country Captain 2011-12)
Other
June 27, 2021
My heartfelt condolences to the family. Mike was a great guy. We were in band together at NHS. He was liked by everyone. GOD bless Mike.
Joyce Ketner Tolford
Friend
June 27, 2021
My sincere sympathy for your loss. Mike was a neighbor that I got to know when he came into my parent's grocery store. He graduated with my sister, Jackie. He was a very nice man and always nice to talk with. I am so sorry. Valerie
Valerie Bancroft Packer
Friend
June 27, 2021
I was Mike´s final assistant coach in track while Mike taught, coached and guided so many of the students at Grass Lake. He was my first coaching mentor. Many of the methods I used I `borrowed´ from him. But, in retrospect, it was his warmth, compassion and encouraging ways with the athletes and students that had the greatest influence on me. He touched thousands of lives in so many ways large and small. The world is a little sadder for his passing but I am hugely grateful for the times we shared. May your memories of him and the love of the many he touched bring you comfort and peace.
Mike Timms
Friend
June 27, 2021
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