A visitation for Jerry Michael “Mike” Cormack, 83, Lawrence, will be 9-10:30 am, Saturday, September 7, 2019, at Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home. Burial will follow at Oak Hill Cemetery.
Mike Cormack passed away peacefully at home on Tuesday, September 3, 2019. Mike enjoyed a long life filled with love both given and received.
He was born in Rossville, Kansas on September 3, 1936, the oldest child of Walter Vernon Cormack and Leona Emily (Williamson) Cormack. He lived in Rossville for the first few years of his life, then moved with his family to Topeka, Kansas. Shortly after the outbreak of WWII, he and his mother and younger brother Tom lived briefly in Greenville, South Carolina, and then with his grandparents in Nebraska City, Nebraska. He had fantastic stories that he would tell his sons over and over about growing up in Nebraska City while his father was stationed overseas. Many of those stories were about his Irish grandmother who had an enormous influence on his life.
After the war the family moved back to Topeka, where he lived for nearly 20 years, and where he met his future wife, Shirley Rae (Absher) Cormack. After graduating from Topeka High School they were married on April 8, 1956. They lived in Topeka until moving briefly to Mobile, Alabama and then quickly back to Topeka. They have three sons, Michael Shawn Cormack, Jonathan Patrick Cormack, and Timothy Joseph Cormack. Mike and Shirley were very happily married for over 63 years.
After graduating from high school Mike joined the Kansas National Guard, B Company, 174th Military Police Battalion and served for eight years and eight months before being discharged. He worked as a draftsman for the Topeka City Engineers then the Topeka County Regional Planing Commision becoming a Junior Planner and Chief Draftsman. Although excelling as a draftsman, Mike decided he wanted to be a teacher. He received both his undergraduate degree (1964) and master’s degree (1969) from Washburn University, and then taught 5th and 6th grades at Whitson elementary school from 1964–1968. In 1969 the family moved to Rossville where he was the principal of Rossville and Delia elementary schools from 1969–1975. In 1975 the family moved to Lawrence, Kansas where Mike was principal at East Heights elementary school (1975–1978), and then Kennedy elementary (1978–1986). He returned to teaching and finished his career as an 8th grade english and history teacher at Central Junior High from 1986–1996.
As a result of his passion for teaching, he had a positive effect on countless students over his many years in education. Since his retirement, many former students have told him of the effect he had on their lives, a kind compliment and evidence of a life well lived. Mike was a kind, generous, and compassionate person, who showed endless love for his family. These positive qualities served him well after his diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.
Mike had a rich inner life that he expressed through story telling, a trait he picked up from his Irish grandmother, and also in acting. He, Shirley, and their youngest son Tim were in many community theater productions both in Lawrence and Topeka. Another passion of Mike’s was his love of automobiles. He restored antique cars most of his adult life, and the list of cars he owned and restored is extensive. Mike and Shirley have been members of antique car clubs in Lawrence, Topeka, and Kansas City. Mike also expressed his artistic abilities in drawing, painting, singing, and an eye for good design, many of those traits he passed down to his children and grandchildren.
He is survived by his wife Shirley (Lawrence), younger brother Thomas Joseph Cormack (Topeka), sons Mike (Lawrence), Jon and wife Janie (Knoxville, Tennessee) Tim (Lawrence), and grandchildren Emily Jill Cormack (New York City) Anna Marvelle Cormack (Chicago), Jordan Riley Cormack and wife Katie, Rachel Marie (Cormack) Duplantis and husband Brandon, and Rebekah Michelle Cormack (Knoxville). The family wishes to thank the staff of Lawrence Memorial Hospital and Douglas County Visiting Nurses for the invaluable care and support they provided.
Memorial contributions may be made to Visiting Nurses, sent in care of Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home, 601 Indiana Street, Lawrence, KS 66044.