Michael Scott Gillitzer, 61, unexpectedly died on Friday Nov. 4, 2022. He was born May 2, 1961, in Prairie du Chien, WI to Donald and Karolyn Gillitzer. It was there that Mike developed his enduring love of golf, the Minnesota Vikings, and the Chicago Cubs (whom he FINALLY saw win the World Series).
Although he initially entered university with a mathematics scholarship, Mike graduated from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse with a B.S. in History and Sociology and later with a Master of Education- Professional Development.
After working for 10 years as a trainer at Monona Wire Corp and as a student and substitute teacher, in 1998 Mike moved away from his hometown of “PDC” on the banks of the Mississippi River (where he enjoyed fishing with his nephews) to Harlingen, Texas where he began his career as a teacher at Harlingen South High School. In his 23 years at South, Mike taught subjects ranging from World Geography and U.S. Government to AP U.S. History and AP Human Geography. Always cognizant of the power of both intrinsic and extrinsic motivations, Mike offered both extra credit and Jolly Ranchers to motivate his students (or placate them after he had given them a good-natured “roasting”). Many students considered him to be a “second Dad” and flocked to his classroom for help with schoolwork (he even tutored students in math when they needed it). It was at Harlingen South where Mike met his “better half” Delilah Welch, and annually they dressed as Santa and Mrs. Claus prior to the holiday break.
In 2021 Mike retired from Harlingen CISD and continued teaching at the Marine Military Academy in Harlingen. Still armed with his Jolly Ranchers, there he also became a fatherly figure to the young men he was so honored to teach. While his time at MMA was brief, his impact on the cadets was distinct. Each day at second mess he would sit at a table facing the cadets and dole out amusing and friendly ribbings. “Mr. G” was also an accomplished teller of “Dad jokes” and thoroughly enjoyed making an entire class laugh (or groan).
Mr. Gillitzer was a master teacher. He did not teach for accolades or to “climb the ladder” to administration. He taught to impact the education and the lives of students. In his classroom he posted “10 Things that Require Zero Effort.” Among those ten things were “having a strong work ethic,” “being prepared,” and “being on time.” Mike endeavored to teach his students to both work hard and savor living.
Mike is survived by his parents Donald and Karolyn; brother Mark (Susan); nephews Daniel, Nicholas (Jacquelyn), Andrew; and fiancé Delilah Welch (mother of Joaquin Rodriguez).
He is preceded in death by his maternal and paternal grandparents.
Visitation Thurs. Nov. 10 from 3-9 PM at Trinity Funeral Homes in Harlingen. Funeral services held Nov. 11 at 10 AM at Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Harlingen.
A visitation and prayer service will be Tuesday, November 15, 2022 from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM at the Garrity Funeral Home in Prairie du Chien, WI Msgr. Charles Stoetzel officiating, with burial in the Bagley Cemetery in Bagley, WI. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Harlingen Human Society at https://www.hshtx.org/.