Representative Michael “Coach” Lair, age 71 years, of Jefferson City, Missouri, formerly of Chillicothe, Missouri, passed away Tuesday, September 5, 2017 at his home.

Representative Michael “Coach” Lair, age 71 years, of Jefferson City, Missouri, formerly of Chillicothe, Missouri, passed away Tuesday, September 5, 2017 at his home.

Mike was born on February 27, 1946 in Omaha, Nebraska the son of the late Ralph and Teresa (Torpey) Lair. 

A 1964 graduate of Creighton Preparatory Jesuit School, he played in Nebraska’s Shrine Bowl football game and played football at Colorado State University.  He earned a B.S. in history from the University of Nebraska-Omaha in 1970 and a M.S. in education from Central Methodist University in 2003. 

In the Black Hills of South Dakota, he married his best friend Jeanne Doyle.  Mike and Jeanne taught on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in Mission South Dakota—which he treasured for the experience of getting to live among the people whose history, culture, and land he loved. 

 Mike and Jeanne moved to Chillicothe, Missouri in 1987 where they lived, worked, and raised their family until moving to Jefferson City in 2016.

Mike taught and coached for more than 38 years in Nebraska, South Dakota, and Missouri until his retirement in 2008.  He prided himself on his informative, yet highly entertaining, lectures and particularly enjoyed his Socratic method of imparting knowledge and expelling ignorance in his beloved students.

Upon his retirement from teaching, Mike was elected to the House of Representatives in 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014.  He was a firm believer in the merits of a citizen legislature and loved being able to serve the people using the wealth of knowledge his unique life experiences had given him.  He respected others and always considered that an opinion differing from his own was something to be weighed and measured. During his time in legislature, he served as the Chair of the Select Committee on Education (2015-2016) and the Chair of Appropriations-Education (2011-2014). 

Mike had a memorable personality, a keen sense of humor, and a strong work ethic.  A voracious reader and lifelong student of history, Mike’s favorite pastime involved smoking his pipe outside in the quiet reading a book.  Driving with his family through the Black Hills, the Rocky Mountains, and across the Plains were his idea of a summer well-spent.  He loved telling stories—often varying in veracity and details—which Mike liked to refer to as “throwing in another grizzly” bear, a nod to his fascination with both the mountains and the tales of the great American West.

He was a member of St. Columban Roman Catholic Church, Missouri Farm Bureau, Chillicothe Chamber of Commerce, the National Council for Social Studies, Ducks Unlimited, and a Lifetime member of the NRA.  He was honored to have received the Freshman Legislator of the Year Award (2009), Missouri Farm Bureau Friend of Agriculture (2010, 2012 and 2014), Missouri Sheriffs’ Association Representative of the Year (2014), Missouri Retired Teacher Association Legislator of the Year (2015), Northwest Missouri Association of School Administrators Friend of Education Award (2016), Northwest MASA District Friend of Education Award (2016).

Survivors include: his wife, Jeanne Lair of Jefferson City, Mo.; two children, Jillian Harris and her husband James of Jefferson City, Mo., and Trevor Lair and his wife Alison of Boston, Massachusetts; five grandchildren, Margaux, James and Paxton Harris and Elsie and Harriet Lair; sister-in-law, Joan Doyle Workman of Beatrice, Nebraska; niece, Sydney Kyser and her husband Justin of Omaha, Nebraska; and nephew, Jessup Workman of Beatrice, Nebraska.

Visitation will be held at the Cathedral of St. Joseph from 4:00 until 7:00 p.m. Monday, September 11, 2017 with a Rosary Service at 3:15 p.m. 

Mass of Christian Burial will be conducted at high 12:00 noon Tuesday, September 12, 2017 at the Cathedral of St. Joseph with his dear friend, the Reverend Monsignor Robert A. Kurwicki officiating. Graveside services and interment will be held at Hawthorn Memorial Gardens.

An additional visitation will be held in Chillicothe, Missouri from 4:00 until 6:00 p.m. Thursday, September 14, 2017 at St. Columban Catholic Church with a prayer service held at 6:00 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions are suggested to the Mike Lair Memorial Fund to support Bishop Hogan Memorial School and other education efforts dear to him.

Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Freeman Mortuary in Jefferson City, Mo. and Lindley Funeral Home in Chillicothe, Mo.

See related story.