AMBOY – Monday was a sad, somber day for the Amboy High School family.
Mike "Paz" Pasley, 47, a popular social studies teacher for the past 10 years, died unexpectedly Sunday at KSB Hospital in Dixon.
The school had a brief meeting with students Monday morning to let them know, and had counselors and clergy members on hand all day for any who wished to use them, Principal Joshua Nichols said.
The school also brought in a substitute teacher, to be used if any of Amboy's teachers felt the need to step out at any time, he said.
Neighboring school districts also sent counselors to assist, for which "we're very appreciative," Nichols said, adding that the students were "doing fine."
Pasley was a well-liked teacher, Nichols said.
"A number of students are going to be missing him," he said.
His fellow teachers, too.
"He was a guy who was just all in there for the kids," said Janet Nehring, the school's dean of students and a math teacher.
"Everything he did, it was all about the kids, ... academics, athletics, ... every athlete in the building knew he was there for them," said Nehring, who worked with Pasley for 8 years.
He was constantly asking everybody how they were, she said, and always wanting to start a conversation with them.
Athletics were his passion, in part because of the kids, but he also had been a local sports correspondent for several newspapers, including Sauk Valley Media.
"He was the guy in the crowd who got the kids going; he started all the cheers," Nehring said.
He paid attention to all their plays, big and small, and commented on everything they did, always letting them know what they did right, and offering advice on how to fix what they might have done wrong, she said.
"He was totally there for the students, constantly," Nehring said.
He was, in fact, the favorite teacher of former Amboy High student Bryce Erbes. In Erbes' Student of the Month profile in December 2012, he named Pasley his top teacher because "he helps me understand and explains things in a way that I never thought before.”
"He is a wonderful teacher," Erbes wrote.
Pasley, of Dixon, also had been a sports correspondent for the Quincy Herald Whig and The (Moline) Dispatch and Rock Island Argus.
He was the public address announcer at Amboy High's football and basketball games, had coached basketball and baseball, and was a senior class adviser. He also coached girls fast-pitch softball in Dixon, and volunteered with the Dixon YMCA swim team.
An autopsy was conducted Monday morning; natural causes are the likely cause of death, Lee County Coroner Jesse Partington said.
He is survived by his wife of 17 years, Sarah (Hartl) Pasley, and daughters Erin, Elise, Erica, and Emeri.
Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday in the Holloway Center at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Dixon, and a funeral will begin at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at the church. Services also will be held Friday in his hometown of Quincy.
Jones Funeral Home in Dixon is handling arrangements.
Memorial T-shirt in the works
A black-and-white short-sleeved T-shirt, designed by Amboy High School senior Amanda Pankhurst, will be sold at the school to raise money for a memorial there for social studies teacher Mike "Paz" Pasley.
The shirt features a red Amboy Clippers "A," with white wings and the words "Make history with a victory" on the front, and one of Pasley's favorite quotes on the back: "Life deals adversity at times, and it's how you handle it that defines who you are."
Orders are being taken on Facebook and at the school, 815-857-3632.