In memory of
Dr. Michael William Grier
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In memory of
Dr. Michael William Grier
Dr. Michael William Grier Leicester - Dr. Michael William Grier, 73, went to be with his Lord on October 12, 2016. He suffered a stroke in January of this year. He was born to Marie Helen Jahn on September 4, 1943 in Corona, California. He is survived by his wife of nearly 49 years, Chris, his first real love and he hers. He often told Chris that he felt his life began when he met her. His beloved and admired five children are Nichole and her husband, Dan; Arik and his wife, Georgia; Jeanine and her husband, Dave; Aaron and his wife, Anne; and Renee. His adored grandchildren who could make him smile bigger than anyone are Addiebelle, Caleb, Cyril and Cana. He is also survived by numerous cousins and other family members whom he loved dearly. Mike's children were his priority and he spent the majority of his off-time with them. He loved children and he loved being a Dad. He was patiently available and open-minded, always supportive and encouraging. Mike delighted in creating magic for his family, including designing and building their one-of-a-kind childhood Christmas toys, catching and racing toads after barn chores were done, and sharing his life-long love for animals. Somehow Mike brought just about every type of animal into our family at one point or another, bunnies, homing pigeons, chickens, horses, llamas, miniature donkeys, even a turtle who roamed the house for a while and a feisty goose who bit him from behind one day, which amused Mike to no end. He surprised Chris with her wedding dress and a rented tux for him on the morning of their 25th anniversary and they privately renewed their wedding vows in a little church at the beach. They renewed their vows again at home six weeks prior to his passing, in front of their priest. Mike was told to just nod his head when his turn came and Chris told him it better be a yes. He gifted her with a very loud and excited "I do". His prayer for his children was not that they would not have to face adversity but that they would make it through adversity. His take on his wife not being perfect was that if either of them had been perfect, they never would have truly been married. Mike would be the first to say he was not perfect but he tried to do the best he could. He also believed that life was not meant to be easy. As the only child of a single-working mother facing her own challenges, his early life began with a perspective on adversity. He started working at the age of ten, digging ditches for plumbing lines and doing whatever his uncle, a plumber, had for him to do. At the end of his senior year of high school his chemistry teacher asked each student in the class to tell what they wanted to be. When Mike answered that he wanted to be a doctor the teacher laughed and said that with his grades he would never get into college. He did his first two years of college at Chaffey Junior College, going to school full-time while also working full-time as an orderly in a psychiatric unit. The summers in between, he worked eighty hours a week at this job. During these years his mom was unable to work and he helped support her and even surprised her with buying her a piano. He was accepted to the University of California at Berkeley with scholarships and loans awarded to him. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa and was accepted to The University of Southern California School of Medicine. At the end of his third year of medical school he was chosen to do a fellowship with Sheila Sherlock, author of the definitive textbook on liver disease and the world's authority on the disease at the time, at The Royal Free Hospital in London. This was a meaningful fellowship and she stayed in contact with Mike and Chris for a number of years after. Mike was accepted into the first class of interns at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota where he completed residencies in Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology. While there he started a weekend emergency room moonlighting service to surrounding hospitals and he found other trainees who also needed to start paying back medical school loans to help cover weekends. Before leaving medical school he signed up for the Berry Plan, committing to military service if allowed to complete his medical training. Upon the completion of his residencies he proudly served in the US Air Force as Chief of Internal Medicine at Carswell Air Force Base in Ft. Worth, Texas. He valued his military experience as one of his best experiences in life as it gave him great appreciation for all those who serve. While in Texas, Chris got Mike into jumping horses. This was the start of the family farm. Mike saw a pony being mistreated, a thought he could not stand. He asked what he could offer for the pony and for $25 "Candy" joined our family, saddle and all, and this was the pony that all five Grier children, and numerous other children, learned to ride on over the next 20 years. Mike came to Asheville at the end of 1975 as a Gastroenterologist for Asheville Internal Medicine. With their understanding and blessing, before his year was up he went out on his own to practice medicine. He founded Asheville Gastroenterology Associates (AGA), working eighteen months without a day off before adding his first partner. Later, he worked long and hard to establish the first outpatient endoscopy center in the state. He did it for his patients. They could have their procedures sooner, more efficiently and cheaper. He went into medicine purely to help people. Patients always came first in his practice of medicine. He loved and cared about them. When their problems were serious he wanted to make sure that all parts of their life were in good shape, not solely their physical needs. He prayed with them if that's want they wanted and needed. He was a great diagnostician who could think outside the box and would put himself out there to get patients the care he knew each and every one deserved. One patient brought in a picture of her many grandchildren that she would never have known if it wasn't for his foresight in asking Mayo Clinic to consider her, despite her not fitting the criteria. Employees were also a priority for Mike. He appreciated, valued, dearly loved and cared about the employees of AGA. They were an integral part of his team. He openly acknowledged his need for them and their importance in caring for patients. Of his partners he said, "They are the siblings I never had and I need to do everything I can to take care of them in the practice." His focus in his life was always on what was honest, responsible and right, first and foremost for his patients and also for employees. A former patient said, "He was never clinical, he would just talk to you. And he could talk! I really trusted him." Three years after he retired an employee wrote to him, "We remember what a man of honesty and integrity you are and how you always made your employees feel valued." A partner wrote, "Mike is an amazing person. Among many outstanding traits include determination, resolve, loyalty, courage, preparedness and being a very spiritual person. He is an exceptional person." He was a living testament, a visionary and a pillar of the medical community. His sense of responsibility to those placed in his life was paramount, whether it be family, patients, employees, partners, or friends. Whatever he did he was always thinking of others. He was generous with his time, didn't hold grudges and always gave everyone the benefit of the doubt. Outside of work he was always Mike, the person, not the physician. He greatly valued and validated every line of honest work. He was interested in just about everything and was a jack of all trades. No work or job was beneath him and there wasn't much he would not try his hand at. He did nearly all the work needing to be done at home and for his projects. He designed, built, plumbed, did electrical work, masonry, fencing, tractor work, landscaping, worked on old cars, vet work, training and breeding horses and llamas, and even learned to do his daughters' hair into buns for horse shows. One Christmas he designed and built wooden doll beds and car racetracks that he brought to Catholic Social Services (CSS) to be given to children in need for Christmas. Mike and Chris were blessed to have foster children and single pregnant mothers live with the family at different points, bringing a depth and beauty to everyones lives. He was also an Odyssey of the Mind and History Day coach taking teams to nationals. Before he retired from medicine he designed, helped to build and managed an event center, Yesterday Spaces, built with lumber from the farm. During retirement, he thoroughly enjoyed this venture, as the main bookings were weddings, a happy time in people's lives. Mike believed in God and it was to God that he turned to in life. Mike and his wife were lifelong Catholics and members of St. Barnabas. He had led the high school youth group there, had been active in Crusillo and had done volunteer carpentry work for CSS. He felt gratitude deeply and knew that all good things in life were undeserved blessings from God. One of his children said that she will always carry with her the way Dad just talked to God like He was sitting right there in the car while Dad drove them to school in the morning. Prayer was deeply personal and open down-to-earth talking with God throughout Dad's life. His stroke in January left him unable to communicate as well as he wanted to, though he learned to say a lot with facial expressions. The skill of communication was one which he strongly believed in. One of his children told him that it was okay if he couldn't speak as there wasn't anything left that he needed to say. "You said it all to me with how you lived your life." The stroke also left him paralyzed on his dominant right side. He was a natural at learning to use his left hand and he was learning to walk short distances with a hemi walker by the time he came home to the farm in June of this year. He worked exceedingly hard to overcome his disabilities and as always, gave all that he could. Throughout, he never complained and always tried to help in his care, anticipating what was needed of him to do. His loving manner and great sense of humor made it a privilege and a joy to care for him. He enjoyed every genre of music and would keep time with his head, hand, or foot, or he would be caught mouthing the words, beboping away. His life had prepared him well for the last walk asked of him. He triumphed through this time. The family is grateful for the tremendous outpouring of love, countless prayers and cards filled with words of encouragement. We wish to thank all the wonderful doctors, nurses, therapists, aides and others who treated and cared for our husband and dad at Mission Hospital, Care Partners Rehab, Pisgah Manor Rehab, Care Partners Home Health and Care Partners Home Hospice. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Care Partners Foundation. The funeral will be held at The Basilica of St. Lawrence in downtown Asheville on Wednesday, October 19 at 2:00 p.m. A private burial will follow with the family welcoming everyone back to a reception at Yesterday Spaces, 305 Sluder Branch Rd. in Leicester from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. Groce Funeral Home on Patton Ave is assisting the family. The online register is available at www.grocefuneralhome.com .
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