As a long-time beloved history teacher at North Allegheny High School, Michael J. Fleischauer went out of his way to get to know each student by name, take an interest in their lives inside and outside of the classroom and offer to help them whenever the need arose.
As a colleague and friend, he displayed the same traits of thoughtfulness, compassion and warmth during his 35 years of teaching in the district.
"Mike was just a wonderful, person, teacher and citizen," said Larry Butterini, retired principal of North Allegheny High School. "He was a remarkable person and had a very significant impact on all of his kids, not just because he was a good teacher, but because he modeled being a caring and good person."
Mr. Fleischauer, 65, of Cranberry, died Nov. 1 at Good Samaritan Hospice in Wexford of sarcoma cancer.
Mr. Fleischauer's illness, which he battled for more than a decade, forced him to retire in 2002, far earlier than he would have chosen to leave his profession, said his wife, Jane, and his colleagues.
He taught American history and a course that he created on Russian and Eastern European history. During his teaching career he was awarded two Fulbright scholarships, one to study in Russia, the other to study in India. He incorporated that knowledge into his courses, his wife said.
A native of Elizabeth Borough, Mr. Fleischauer also held a bachelor's degree from Waynesburg University, where he played basketball and baseball, and a master's degree from Slippery Rock University.
In his early years of teaching and coaching basketball his friends gave him the nickname "Flash" because he was so fast on the basketball court.
Pat Lynch, who was hired at North Allegheny in 1968, the same year as Mr. Fleischauer, recalled him playing in faculty basketball games against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1970s.
"They had some really big guys, but Mike was able to shoot from the outside and score on them," Mr. Lynch said.
For many years, Mr. Fleischauer coached either ninth grade boys basketball or varsity girls basketball at North Allegheny.
"He was competitive. He wasn't a screamer, but he did motivate the kids," Mr. Lynch said.
His colleagues said Mr. Fleischauer's gift as a teacher was that he was able to reach all levels of students from the variety of students in his American history classes to the academically gifted students in his Russian history class.
"He was probably one of the top teachers in North Allegheny," said Bruce Titus, a friend and retired counselor at North Allegheny.
Mr. Fleischauer was also known for attending students' athletic, musical and other activities after school hours.
"He made the kids feel important. He would say 'Hey, you did a good job at that basketball game, or you did a great job at that concert,' " Mr. Butterini said.
His colleagues said former students frequently came back to visit Mr. Fleischauer after they graduated and many stopped to talk when they ran into him years after they graduated.
"Up until recently he was still hearing from random students who would write a letter to him and would remember that he touched their life as a teacher," said Mindy Floro, a guidance counselor at North Allegheny High School.
In drafting his own obituary information several years ago, Mr. Fleischauer said he wanted his obituary to ask "that people do one helpful/kind deed for a child today."
Colleagues said Mr. Fleischauer treated them with the same caring attitude, often being the first to offer help in a crisis. One colleague recalled that after he fell from a roof and was injured, Mr. Fleischauer and his wife were the first to arrive to help. Another recalled Mr. Fleischauer and his wife sitting with her family during her cancer surgery several years ago.
In addition to his wife of 35 years, Mr. Fleischauer is survived by four brothers: Tom of Oakland, Calif., Fran of Dravosburg, John of Ithaca, N.Y., and Rich of Grove City, Ohio; and two sisters, Judy DelBarto of Clearwater, Fla., and Margaret of Elizabeth Borough.
Visitation will be from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday and 9 to 11 a.m. Friday, when a blessing service will be held at Devlin Funeral Home of Cranberry.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Sarcoma Alliance, 775 E. Blithdale, #334, Mill Valley, CA 94941.
Mary Niederberger: email@example.com or 412-263-1590.