Michael Gary Tonnemacher, 75, of Las Vegas, NV, passed away on November 26, 2021 in his home. He was born on October 24, 1946 in Paducah Kentucky to the late Dr. Melburn William Tonnemacher, D.C. and Thelma Louise Switzer Tonnemacher.
He attended grade school at Saint Thomas More and high school at St. Mary’s Academy in Paducah. Although he was a Civil Air Patrol cadet in high school and when drafted attempted to enlist in the Air Force, he was welcomed into the Navy when the Air Force determine him to be too tall. After a four year tour in Hawaii, California and Southeast Asia, he return to Kentucky and studied Marketing and Recreational Therapy at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green. At one time, all four siblings attended Western Ky. at the same time, and at one point, Michael shared a house with his two brothers, to their benefit or not! Upon graduation, he further his education at California State University at Chico, where he earned his teaching credential and made lifelong friends. Leaving California for the desert, he taught elementary school and middle school for 27 years, teaching science and computers in the Clark County School District in Las Vegas, Nevada. He was reportedly an institution at his schools. At 6‘8“, he rarely had disciplinary problems. Imagine if you will, seeing him in his tie-dyed lab coat and long ponytail strolling the halls and into your classroom. After retirement, he was able to continue interacting with his peers as a computer IT consultant at the Retired Public Employees of Nevada (RPEN), Summerlin chapter.
Known as Big Mike to many, he will be remembered for his love of music, particularly the Grateful Dead, Blues, Bluegrass, and Zydeco. Prior to his passing, he had over 400 Classic Rock and Roll albums, hundreds of cassette tapes, and hundreds more CDs, a collection large enough to host his own radio show if he chose. He was known to travel the country in search of live music, good food, and visits with friends and family. Barbecue was a particular food favorite, whether it was at Joe’s in Kansas City, the Rendezvous in Memphis, or his favorite for hickory smoked pulled pork, Starnes BBQ in his hometown of Paducah. Additionally, he loved electronics and religiously attended the yearly Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas. And some of his greatest joys were interacting with fellow members of the Las Vegas Mac Users Club. Lastly, Michael always enjoyed a lively political discussion and was defriended more than once by those that had limited understanding or tolerance of his liberal views.
Overall, Michael loved his family. He was a proud uncle and great uncle to several nieces and nephews. He is survived by his only sister Molliann Tonnemacher Larka (Jack), and brothers Stephen Charles Tonnemacher (Carol), and Jon Craig Tonnemacher. Lastly Michael loved living in Las Vegas, where he had the best food and music in the world at his doorstep, provided him with a rewarding career teaching, and provided him great relationships with his coworkers. His family tried repeatedly to get him to return to Kentucky after he retired, but he would have none of it. Vegas and the weather suited his soul.
A celebration of Life Mass will be held in Paducah at a later date, with burial in the Mt. Carmel Cemetery. The family wishes to thank his friends for their love, and the staff at Spring Valley Hospital and Sunset Hospice for their care. Expressions of sympathy can be made in Mike’s name to your favorite charity.