Dr. Michael Peter Livovich, Jr. of South Haven, Michigan, passed away peacefully on Thursday, July 28, his 71st birthday, due to complications of cancer. Born to Michael Sr. and Loycene Livovich in Gary, Indiana, in 1951, he grew up quickly in responsibility, assisting his parents–his father, a disabled veteran, and his mother, deaf. He graduated from Portage High School in 1969, and then earned Bachelors and Masters degrees from Ball State in 1973 and 1977. While at Ball State, he was a member of Delta Chi fraternity, a Cardinal Corps Host, and a leader in the Student Center Governing Board.
His career started in 1973 at the Porter County Special Education Cooperative as a teacher and prevocational coordinator for “at risk” students at Portage High School. Always an energetic leader, Michael became the youngest Director of Special Education in Indiana in 1978, and led the Westlake Special Education Cooperative from 1980 to 1999. Federal law had only just recently ensured the right for disabled children to have a full, appropriate education and Michael was a leader in a new generation of administrators who implemented the policy and set standards at building and district level, thoughtfully designing procedures and championing exceptional kids against resistant leadership. He served as President for both the Indiana Council for Exceptional Children and the Indiana Council for Administrators of Special Education (both of which recognized him with Distinguished Service Awards), and tirelessly and passionately advocated at the local and state level for fuller inclusion of ALL children in the classroom.
He earned his Ph.D. in educational leadership from Indiana State University (1999), writing his dissertation on Servant Leadership. He was superintendent for Adams Central Community Schools (1999 to 2002) and Hanover Community School Corporation (2002 to 2008) and proudly raised academic standards and updated facilities during his tenure. He wrote manuals and gave workshops nationally about local compliance with federal education laws and acted as a consultant to many districts. Dr. Livovich later brought his student-centered approach to positions at East Chicago Public Schools, Michigan City Area Schools, Allegan Area Education Service Agency, and as an adjunct professor at several local colleges including Purdue Northwest, Governors State University, and Calumet College.
Michael was proud of his family and was fiercely faithful to them. A life-long Catholic, Michael married his high school sweetheart, Mary Ann Kuznicki–his beloved “Annie”–in 1972 and together raised their children Crista Tharp (Chad) , Mary Ann Tomondi (Sean), Michael (Kris Hanna), Matthew (d. 1977), and Katharine Monnier.
Michael and Mary Ann recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary surrounded by the loving family that they cultivated, including 15 grandchildren: Mathew Chad, Jordan Andrew, Terin Michael, Julia Marie, Rebecah Grace, Elia Luz, Emily Ilaina, Josephine Day, Michael Peter, Elijah Sage, Del Joseph, Ava-Elisabeth, Gabriel Thomas, Catherine-Anne, and Nicholas Charles.
As a husband, father, and grandfather, he vigorously and consistently communicated his love and made it visible in action, always in loving tandem with his wife Mary Ann. He forged many strong and lasting friendships and continually provided advice, support, and encouragement to scores of people. He was especially close with Vicky and Donal (d. 2020) Chambers, his Aunt Janet Kaletta, and his beloved sister, Rebecca Sabo.
Michael loved music, cooking, and travel and he was a talented artist. In 2018, Michael and Mary Ann retired to South Haven, Michigan, where they watched sunsets, tended their vegetable and flower gardens, enjoyed spending time with new friends, and remained involved in community activities.
A viewing will be held at Rees Funeral Home (Hobart, IN) on Wednesday, August 3, from 2:00 to 8:00 p.m. (Rosary at 7 p.m.) and a Mass of Christian Burial at Our Lady of Sorrows Parish (Valparaiso, IN) on Thursday, August 4, at 10:00 a.m. (with viewing starting at 9 a.m.).
In lieu of flowers, the Livovich family requests donations to the Special Olympics.