James Michael Pryor

James M. (Mike) Pryor, 77, died Tuesday in Lawrence. Born October 25, 1939 in Kansas City, Mike moved with his family to Scammon in 1948. He graduated from Scammon Grade School and Cherokee County Community High School (class of 1957).

Mike played center on the Titan football team, was a member of the CCCHS band that marched in the Inaugural Parade of President Eisenhower in 1957, but his greatest love was theater. He acted in many musicals and attended theater summer camp at Kansas University. Mike studied theater at Emporia State College, but received BA in theater at the University of Arizona. He later earned a degree in English at Cal State Los Angeles and Masters at the College of LaVerne, CA.

Mike taught English and Drama in Santa Rosa (CA) High School for many years, where he was active in the teachers union and served on the Board of the California American Federation of Teachers. He acted and directed summer stock and local theater productions, and worked a movie extra. For many years he taught for the Department of Defense Education System (DODS), serving at bases in Cuba, England and Germany, where he inspired and encouraged many children of military families.

A great teacher affects the lives of many.  Here are a few of the many tributes from Mike’s Facebook page:

“He was my teacher for 10th grade English and Drama for my Junior and Senior year. He wasn’t just a teacher for me. He treated me like one of his kids. Made me feel like family. He wasn’t afraid to not sugarcoat anything with me. At times he was stern, but also caring. He helped me through some of the toughest parts of my life. Mainly, when my parents were getting divorced. He liked to laugh and share his adventures. Like the time a pub tried to con him out of some money and he was having none of it. Or his experience playing a Nazi in Indiana Jones. It was never a boring moment with Mr. Pryor. He loved to laugh.”

“I have a lot of fond memories of Mr. Pryor, he was a great teacher and I always loved being in his class rooms. He has a passion for drama and made it come alive for me. I remember his stories about when he was on the set of the Last Crusade, or when he would read Harry Potter to the class to help connect the story with the lesson he was trying to reach. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

“Today, the world lost one of the biggest influences in my life. J Mike Pryor you helped me in so many ways, it’s so hard to believe that you left this world, God got a good one. I’ll always love you.”

“He had this awesome laugh & he always tilted his head back when he had a good giggle in him. Or if someone was really being downright impressive on stage his jaw would drop & his eyes would light up!”
“I was kinda f…ing up in school & I remember him pulling me to the side & telling me to get my head out of my ass. It was so humiliating but he was RIGHT. He gave me a lot of advice & I’m grateful to have known him. My fellow Trump basher, my favorite drama teacher in the world. He was more than that & we all know it. We made lifetime friends in his class. Damn. I’m so sad to hear of his passing.”

“The world lost one of the coolest guys ever today, J Mike Pryor. There was never a dull moment around this guy. He had a heart for social justice and his presence and power will forever remain.”

Mike retired in 2011 and moved to Lawrence, where he quickly became involved in the community. He was active in local politics and worked for Senator Bernie Sanders’ Presidential campaign. Mike was an active and committed volunteer for Just Foods, which provides food support for families in Douglas County.

Mike was the son of Owen and Laura Pryor late of Scammon. Mike is survived by his twins, Mary and Ethan, who were born in England and hold dual citizenship. Mary resides at the home in Lawrence and Ethan serves with British Army. Also surviving are three sisters, Sharon Koons, Columbus; Laura Preston, Owassa, OK; Kathy Pryor, Lawrence; and three brothers, Tom Pryor, Columbus; Tim Pryor, Rochester, NY, and Jay Pryor, Lawrence.

Memorial services will be 4 pm, Saturday, May 6, 2017, at Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home in Lawrence. Mary, Ethan and their mother, Lisa Leveque, will host a party in his honor at his favorite bar, The Replay, 946 Massachusetts St, in Lawrence. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to the ABF, Mount Barrow House 6-20 Elizabeth St. London, UK SW1N9RB.