Obituary: Mike Myers, Former Law Prof, Indy Gov Candidate

I note with respect the passing of Michael Joseph Myers, Sioux Falls native, lawyer, law professor, 2014 Independent candidate for Governor, and heck-raiser. Myers died this week in Minneapolis. I met in April 2014, to interview him about his run for Governor, and covered his performance in that year’s DakotaFest debate against Susan Wismer and Governor Dennis Daugaard. I did not vote for Myers, but I respect his commitment to public service.

Following is a full obit from his loved ones.

Mike Myers
Mike Myers

Michael (Mike) Joseph Myers was a fighter, a rabble rouser, and provocateur, an endless font of restless, creative energy, a force of nature, a husband, and our dad. He had a hard knock life early on but those experiences forged a steely will to succeed, thrive, and prove to the world that he was a man to be reckoned with.

Born in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in 1936, our dad, Mike, started out young making a name for himself. He was an altar boy, a golden gloves boxing champion, and a sailor in the Navy, all before the age of 17. Mike spent the end of his teenage years peeling potatoes aboard a battleship all around Asia as the Korean War came to a close.

He attended South Dakota State on the GI bill for his first couple of years, transferring to the Business School and graduating from the University of South Dakota (USD) and began his first career as a photojournalist for the Argus Leader and then the Sioux City Journal. He married the beautiful Mary Ellen Schaefer (of Montrose, South Dakota) on July 14, 1962.

After starting a family, three children by 1965 (Mary Beth, Helen, and Matthew), the family moved to Vermillion, South Dakota, in order to pursue Mike’s law degree at USD. He was working full-time as a journalist, attending grad classes at night, and was basically living out of his red Datsun 240z. Graduating with Honors, Mike became a professor at USD, loving every minute of it, and adding Nicholas and Anne to the growing family.

Mike began his biggest career journey as Legal Counsel for St. Joseph’s

Place of Birth: Sioux Falls, SD Death: April 26, 2017
Place of Death: Minneapolis, MN

Hospital in Sioux City, eventually becoming CEO and overseeing the merger of St. Joseph and St. Vincent hospitals into Marian Health Center (now Mercy Sioux City). During this time, our family were proud members of Blessed Sacrament parish, who supported our family so lovingly when we had a house fire in 1975. While we flourished in Sioux City, we added Michael and Connor to the family, to round out the crew of seven children.

Mike was a high-flier throughout his never-ending career: CEO of Mayo-St. Mary’s Hospital and a Mayo Trustee, Rochester, Minnesota; CEO of Fairview Riverside Medical Center, Minneapolis, and COO, Mercy Medical Center, Sioux City, Iowa, and Board Director of Minnesota Blue Cross/Blue Shield. He authored The Mayo Clinic and Blue Eyes, and Railroaded: Mayo, Imminent Domain and the Unclean Politics of Clean Coal, talk-radio host for The Elder Law Forum, and was a 2015 Candidate for Governor/Lieutenant Governor of South Dakota. As things often do, Mike rounded back to USD as a professor at the USD School of Law teaching Elder Law and Health Law & Policy, his favorite job by far.

Most recently, our dad moved to Minneapolis/St. Paul and was enjoying life to the fullest. He lived in a hipster neighborhood with walking paths and views of Lake Calhoun, he attended weekly spinning classes, ate at great restaurants, practiced yoga and visited local Zen centers, and most importantly, our family spent time with each other.

Mike was the husband to Mary Ellen (Schaefer) Myers, father to Mary Beth Myers, Helen Myers, Matthew Myers, Nicholas Myers, Anne (Myers) Shankula, Michael S. Myers and Connor Myers, grandfather to four beautiful grandchildren, and brother to four sisters: Barbara (Myers) Stich, Patty (Myers) Wuebben, Sally Myers, and Connie (Myers) Marr-Presley.

Our dad was a hard worker, a provider, a friend, a husband, a teacher, an entertainer, a fighter, and the perfect example of living life fully without boundaries. He died peacefully from natural causes, in own his modern apartment, in his sleep. He was 80 years young. R.I.P. dad.

Lastly, Mike’s most current radio show, Adventures in Aging, is airing four more episodes and can be heard on twincitieswellnessradio.com/content/all/adventuresofaging.

In lieu of flowers the family asks that you please make a donation to American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) or a charity of your choice.

Mass of Christian Burial will be held at The Cathedral of Saint Joseph (523 N. Duluth Ave, Sioux Falls, SD, 57104) on Tuesday, May 2, 2017 at 10:00AM. Reception will follow in the lower level of the Cathedral. Interment will be 1:45PM Tuesday, May 2, 2017 at St. Patrick’s Catholic Cemetery in Montrose, South Dakota. Rude’s Funeral Home, Brookings, SD is assisting the family with the arrangements.


50 Responses to Obituary: Mike Myers, Former Law Prof, Indy Gov Candidate

  1. If he had won the governor race, Lora Hubbel would now be governor. Whew! Dodged that bullet!

  2. Steve Hickey

    Pretty sure he didn’t like me (for taking on Bosworth). He had a measure of kookiness as was evidenced by his yoking up with the Hubble-craft. Glad to have known him though. Loved his pushback on monetised medicine.

  3. Mike Myers was an interesting person and lived an interesting life. I’m glad to have met him.

  4. Charlene Lund

    I knew Mike Myers in the 80’s and early 90’s through his work with elder law and also as a consultant if office management with the SD Public Utilities Commission -which was a real mess at the time. He was always straightforward, honest and knew a tremendous amount. I hope the USD Law School continues its work in Elder Law.

  5. Steve Hickey

    And my measure of kookiness comment needs to be read in light of my awareness that I too, from the vantage point of some, possess a measure of kookiness. Actually, now that I think about it… it is the rest of yous out there who are weird compared to me.

  6. Caitlin Collier

    Mike was a force of nature. He was an Irish American to the very core of his being: friendly, open, fierce, loyal and always talking. He was not afraid of much of anything and he was willing to fight if he thought the cause was right and important. He cared very much about protecting the elderly from abuse, and cons, and the corporate medical system. He should have run for Governor earlier in his life, but that was not to be. Thanks, Mike.

  7. If you are part of the “establishment” it’s easy to make fun of rabble rousers and provocateurs. You can hit them legally, verbally and physically plus financially to trying to stop them. People like Mike Myers continue to bounce back until there is no ability to carry on.

    I only met Mike Myers a few years ago after the interesting death of Richard Benda. Mike asked questions everyone else was afraid to ask. With his legal mind, he tried to explain so we could understand the story inconsistencies.

    Mike decided to fight the “big guys” of the health industrial complex to the point of being fired from his non-tenured teaching position at the University of South Dakota School of Law. He saw errors in the way the health industry used his example of hospital consolidation to ruin the American healthcare system.

    I shot a series of videos of Mike, documenting some of his recent projects and travails. He was a prankster, thinker and fighter for his beloved Sioux Falls north-end little guy. It was great he was able to move up to the Twin Cities to be closer to his beloved family.

    Enjoy some of the videos I recorded: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLBkcje2tWnPXUo0tEoZMimL4a4bR_2PQD

  8. Using the word kook with self-awareness and respect, as does the good Hickey, I note: anti-establishment kooks—I gravitate toward them, they gravitate toward me. So much for “Opposites attract.”

    Prankster, thinker, fighter—a man could do much, much worse than to be remembered by those words.

  9. Porter Lansing

    Using a man’s obituary to talk about yourself? Why?

  10. That is a nice obituary written by children who not only loved their father but had warm affection for him.

    Sidenote and not to nitpick: The 240z was introduced in 1969 so he either went to law school after 1969 or it was another car he lived in.

  11. Frank Kloucek

    Mike Myers was a realist and a visionary. He saw issues as they were and tried to change them for the better. [as they should be]
    He did not just tilt at windmills {Don Quixote} he tried to improve them. Mike Myers tried to help many people and improve peoples lives. There is no greater achievement in life than to make someone elses life better. Mike Myers did exactly that. fjk

    Tilting at windmills is an English idiom which means attacking imaginary enemies. The word “tilt”, in this context, comes from jousting.
    wilipedia definition
    The phrase is sometimes used to describe confrontations where adversaries are incorrectly perceived, or courses of action that are based on misinterpreted or misapplied heroic, romantic, or idealistic justifications. It may also connote an importune, unfounded, and vain effort against adversaries real or imagined for a vain goal.[1]

  12. RoseAnn Wendell

    RIP Professor Myers – I will never do a push up without thinking of you.

  13. Marilyn Trefz

    Thank you for this heartfelt obituary. I know how much he adored his family and it is evident the feeling is mutual.

    Professor Myers was one of my very favorite professors and mentors. I loved being in his classes and serving as his assistant for his Elder Law Forum radio show and Senior Legal Helpline. He was one of those life changers for me … his commitment to helping the elderly and his example of creative problem solving, definitely made a lasting impression. The Elder Decision Mediation component of my business is an ode to many of his teachings and to my positive experiences watching him heal family relations and solve practical problems, while maintaining a voice for the senior person involved.

    …So glad to hear he passed peacefully and in his own apartment, as I know that was important to him. I Just bawled when I saw this news, but now I think I’ll go do 20 pushups for a true tribute. He will be greatly missed and his memory truly cherished.

  14. Professor Myers was my contracts professor in 1966. The first thing I noticed on the first day of class was his athletic appearance with a Kirk Douglas chin dimple and an “in your face” smile.

    As the years went on, he and I even worked on some cases for some various underdogs.

    When I went down to speak on law-related subjects to his classes, invariably his David Carradine Kung Fu Tai Chi video would be playing on a TV screen in his classroom and everyone, students, teacher, and guest speaker would be instructed to do 20 push-ups. He was always a lot of fun – always eccentric (some would clearly say that eccentric was an understatement) – and always a lot of fun.

    Mike lived to champion causes for those who could not fight for themselves. This was what being a lawyer meant to him. Our personal conversations are precious memories which revealed to me his deeply spiritual and beautiful soul which was always poised, ready, and anxious to resist any force that threatened to oppress the dignity of the individual.

    Professor, Thank you so much. Sincerest condolences to your family and the many others who mourn your passing.

  15. Douglas Wiken

    My memory of what Mike Myers did or did not do are flawed or missing. His obituary is interesting and his accomplishments are nearly awe inspiring. SD and healthcare in SD would be much better and less wasteful, less empire building, etc. if our politicians had paid more attention to this guy instead of trying to stifle his good ideas. Somebody as ambitious as he appears to have been and also as creative may have had some kooky ideas, but sometimes kooky ideas have elements worth serious consideration.

  16. I was glad to get to know him over the past couple of years, while he could be ‘difficult’ at times, he always made me laugh and had a fantastic sense of humor. That is why I often scoffed at people who said he was ‘kooky’ I just thought it was his personality. He often laughed at his distractors. Before he moved, I had a chance to see his beautiful historic home in Centerville, nicknamed the ‘Castle of Centerville’.

    It will be interesting to see what USD faculty shows up to his funeral, he was banned from USD’s campus after they let him go. Another example of how Sanford’s money muddied the waters of a higher learning institution in our state. I consider myself very lucky to get to know him before he passed, I will miss his bone crushing handshakes and buckwheat beers.

  17. Porter Lansing

    @DaCola … The video you posted of Professor Myers walking through the new law school building and being confronted by security was how I was introduced to him. He was a highly impressive fellow. Thanks for posting it.

  18. Mr. Myers got insaner than most as he and I approached elderly ages but you have to respect anybody who is a proud rabble rouser, and I do. It seems like just the other day he was cranking out teens of push-ups and forgetting what questions were being asked at press briefings. He would have made a fine replacement for many if he could have sat in the legislatures. He was definitely a pretty swell fellow all around, and live life well.

  19. Eric Leggett

    Mike was an honest guy who worked hard to do what he thought was right. We had coffee a couple of times and I’m honored to have known him.

  20. Mike Meyers was a very accomplished man. We do not see his likes in the political field very often and perhaps never will we see one as talented.

  21. Tara Volesky

    If Mike Myers would have been elected Governor, SD wouldn’t be in such a state of corruption. He pushed up against the establishment and wasn’t afraid to tell the truth. On a funny note, we were at the GOAC meeting in Pierre during the EB-5 fiasco, and he got up and railed on the committee members asking them why in the hell didn’t they subpoena Mike Rounds, Dennis Daugaard and a few others. He blasted them pretty good…….He’s was called out of order and was told to sit down….I wish it was on tape……..Without a doubt, Mike would have drained the swamp. Just You tube him. Outside the box and misunderstood. A rare talent that was Independent from both parties. Voters missed the boat on this one. RIP my friend.

  22. Of course, if Mike Myers would have been elected governor, Mike Rounds and Dennis Daugaard, Marty Jackley and a host of others would have been probably in the jailhouse. Maybe then we would not have the russians so involved in our everyday dealings. Rounds, Thune and NOem could find some sort of redemption if they would condemn the russian white house we are now seeing. When will South Dakota newspapers (snark) start to publish news https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/10/fbi-chief-given-dossier-by-john-mccain-alleging-secret-trump-russia-contacts

  23. All three of my kids had Mike as their professor at USD Law. They absolutely loved him.

  24. I worked in his campaign. Very wise man. Our travels around sd are memories I will never lose. Mike was an inspiration and a champion!

  25. Porter Lansing

    Isn’t is wonderful how many people that only read and rarely comment, belong to the Dakota Free Press extended family? Outstanding group you’ve amassed, Mr. Heidelberger. ✯✯✯✯✯

  26. South Dakota has its diversity, Porter. We need to embrace that diversity and make room for more people like Mike Myers at the table.

    That doesn’t mean we have to grant every cockamamie idea the same deference. We can still call spades spades and rebut falsehoods and bad ideas when we hear them. I don’t hesitate to do so. Neither did Mike Myers.

  27. I didn’t amass this extended family, Porter. That extended family was already here. That extended family is all of South Dakota. I just keep talking to more of them.

  28. Porter Lansing

    Don’t be contrary, Heidelberger. South Dakota liberalism is following your lead. Your daily devotion to the cause is what keeps the “blue herd” from becoming just another group of “Power’s Pissants”. PS … thanks to DWC and the Republican Party facebook person for all the publicity for McGovern Day. The highly respectable Keith Ellison vs the “Godfather of Islamophobia” the washed up Davie Horowitz. Tickets probably still available at the door. (Word has it that Ann Coulter laughed out loud when she was invited to speak.)

  29. Tara Volesky

    The Democrat party never embraced Myers like Senator James Abourezk did, or the late Senator George McGovern would have done if he were alive. Those 3 men are shining examples of what a true Democrat should be like.

  30. Porter Lansing

    Good one, Ms. Volesky. Have a great weekend. :0)

  31. Professor Myers was South Dakota’s Bernie Sanders before being like Bernie Sanders was cool. He had my vote at, “I’m thinking about . . .”

  32. Curious: would Myers have embraced the label, “True Democrat”?

  33. Tara Volesky

    He was bigger than that…..He was true working class people and for the disadvantaged. It didn’t matter what party you belonged to.

  34. Tara Volesky

    The Democrats missed the boat on this man, Mike Myers….another lost opportunity.

  35. Mr. Myers was the second best one-armed-pushup-doing tell-it-like-it-is speach-giving octogenarian in South Dakota, and he will be missed.

  36. Tara Volesky

    Pastor Steve Hickey…..you are an Ass….You can tie Mike’s shoes.

  37. Tara Volesky

    talk to James Abourezk.

  38. Mr. Hickey would no doubt wash off Mr. Myers feet before tying on his shoes.

    Mrs. Volesky, let us hope you throw your hat into the rink this go around, for you would be a good candidate.

  39. Tara Volesky

    Grudz, I don’t think so………..I am for a candidate for the litlle guy.

  40. Tara Volesky

    Pastor Hickey, you can’t hold a candle to Mike…..

  41. Mrs. Volesky likes the underdog, and there is something to be respected about that. Mr. H was rather an underdog himself on his last run, so for this next one a statewide helper like you would really help.

  42. Tara Volesky

    pastor Hickey is a jerk….cant’t believe he is anti- establishment.

  43. Mr Hickey was a huge establishment guy when he was in the legislatures. Huge.

  44. Roger Cornelius

    Who is the little guy?

  45. I was lucky enough to get to know Mike the last several years. He was always planning and doing things designed to uncover wrong and shake up the comfortable arrangements and personal compromises those in authority often make. He continued to try to obtain the Charge Master of the major hospitals in Sioux Falls so patients could compare and better understand the cost of their medical care. Recently he had started a radio program in Minneapolis on the problems faced by older Americans.

    Mike also fought the limits of growing older. He just refused to resign himself to it. It wasn’t that Mike didn’t accept his eventual fate, it just seemed unfair and that angered him. To me, he epitomized the words of Dylan Thomas:
    “Do not go gentle into that good night,
    Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light….”

    Death had to sneak up on Mike while he slept. If he had been awake, he would have wrestled it to the ground and driven it away.

  46. Lars Aanning

    For the last two years that Professor Myers taught Elder and Health Law at USD, I was often his medical professional whipping boy, an insider corroborator he could rely on to erase any doubt that corporate health care was corrupted by financial greed. I admired his fearless in-your-face Yosemite Sam stubbornness that protected the backs of the unprivileged, and was read by the privileged elite as a threat to their authority. Professor Myers never stopped his advocacy for the down-and-out – not even when the Law School’s academic hierarchy branded him disruptive, unceremoniously kicked him off the campus, and threatened to arrest him if he ever re-entered its hallowed halls. His voluntary efforts, along with his students, to help patients avoid medical bankruptcy, and his NPR radio program that advised on elder and health issues, were stripped from this devoted man’s life. The pedantic cretins had shot him in the knees. But like the mythical Phoenix, the Professor opened an office across the street from Carey’s to continue his quest for sanity in medical billing, and he continued his radio program with WNAX and later in Minneapolis. His selflessness, pro-activeness, empathy, and a sympathetic ear endeared him to those in need, and to those who recognized a truly remarkable phenomenon of a man. We will miss his always powerful and inspiring presence, but he will live forever in our hearts…

  47. Tara Volesky

    Well said Dr. Aanning…….Mike was a candidate for the “little guy”, which means unprivileged. We tried to get the Democrat party to team up with Mike but they weren’t willing to because to many people had the mind set of Steve Hickey……..The person with the open mind and worked well with the Independent was a Republican, Lora Hubbel . They were the odd couple but they fought hard to expose corruption and bring about affordable health care by breaking up the Insurance monopolies. Unfortunately neither party embraces transparency and ethics.

  48. Lloyd Zimmerman

    Mike, or the professor as I called him, regularly held court in the men’s lounge area of the Calhoun Beach Club men’s locker room. I was dismayed and shocked to learn of this death today. To the end, he was a vibrant, witty, elegant and eloquent man, thoroughly learned and humble at the same time. He was a true renaissance man, always curious about the world and worldly-wise. I would see him walking around the Lake Calhoun neighborhood with his tweed jacket and jaunty cap — such a handsome man. The very last time I saw him he was having a cup of tea, sitting outside at the Calhoun Beach Club restaurant, looking out over lake Calhoun. He was happy, and he made everyone around him happy. He was beloved. He will be missed.

  49. Robert "Bob" Reinke

    I’m proud to call Mike a friend and colleague. He added great value to the Health Services Administration Program at the USD Business School. I enjoyed our many intense discussions, his strong commitment to students, and in particular our motorcycle rides through the back roads of South Dakota. I hope and pray we will meet again and continue our relationship.

  50. Tara Volesky

    Nice funeral and I would say it was about 95% Democrats there. Had my second lunch after the funeral with Senator James Abourezk at Sanaa’s. Jim noted that he had many friends at the funeral, nice turnout, but if his enemies would have shown up, it would be standing room only.