Civic leader Mike Geile dies at 75 | MyWindsorNow.com

Civic leader Mike Geile dies at 75

Tyler Silvy
and Sharon Dunn
tsilvy@greeleytribune.com

Mike Geile, bedrock of civic leadership in Greeley and Weld County, died Friday, succumbing to cancer at 75.

Geile held leadership and public service positions throughout the county for decades, including stints on the United Way of Weld County Board of Directors, the Board Weld County Commissioners and the Aims Community College Board of Trustees.

"He's been part of the fabric of the community and leadership of the community for ages," Greeley Mayor Tom Norton said. "It's a huge loss for Greeley and Weld County."

When he was first diagnosed with cancer, Geile was finishing work with Community for Kids, an issue committee dedicated to helping Greeley-Evans School District 6 pass a mill levy override.

"He was a fighter to the end," said Barbara Kirkmeyer, a Weld County commissioner who worked with Geile around the turn of the century.

Those who knew Geile — and there were many — speak proudly of his service to the community. His wife of 42 years, Helen Geile, said he was just as proud of his Greeley and Weld County neighbors.

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"Mike was so, so proud of the Greeley community, the way they rally around people, the way you can always count on Greeley to come through for any issue, to make things better for the citizens of Greeley," Helen said.

Jeannine Truswell has been the executive director of the United Way of Weld County for 30 years. Geile was on the board that hired her. Friday morning, Truswell sent an email to every board member and staffer at the United Way of Weld County. The tone was solemn, reflecting on Geile's contributions.

"What a huge loss this is to our community," Truswell said.

She said she couldn't muster the right word to describe Geile or his impact in Greeley and Weld County.

"Amazing, outstanding, excellent — how do you even describe the level of commitment and leadership he's provided to Weld County?" Truswell said.

Longtime friend and campaign manager George Hall was similarly at a loss for words.

"There are not enough proper adjectives to describe what a fine gentleman he was and how dedicated he was to helping Greeley," Hall said. "I'll miss him tremendously, and dozens if not hundreds of people are going to miss him."

Geile came to Greeley in 1978 to help merge Home Light and Power into Public Service Co. After Xcel bought out the company, Geile retired and opened a real estate company. By 1998, he was running for office, and he served two terms on the Board of Weld County Commissioners from 1999 to 2007. That was just a start.

Geile is a former Aims Community College Board of Trustees member. He served on the North Colorado Medical Center Foundation Board of Directors, as well as the board for the Community Foundation Serving Greeley and Weld County. He's been credited for his instrumental role with the Greeley Homeless Coalition, and he helped raise money for Catholic Charities to build the Guadalupe Center.

He and his wife have been prolific philanthropists, and Geile has spent money, time and energy through the years to help Greeley-Evans School District 6 grow and build new schools.

District 6 school board member Doug Lidiak said Geile was a huge advocate for children of Greeley in many ways, citing Geile's desire during his Aims tenure to develop a partnership between Aims and District 6.

That led to Early College Academy, the district's newest high school, that allows students the opportunity to graduate high school with a two-year college degree.

"(That) will be one of the many Mike Geile legacies," Lidiak said.

Bruce Broderius is a former District 6 school board member and has worked closely with Geile in the past two decades on school-related ballot issues.

But the first thing Broderius noticed was Geile runs a tight meeting.

"I say it with a smile — it was all business," Broderius said. "He didn't tolerate extraneous ideas or comments. He thought there should be no meeting that lasted more than an hour. Some people would chuckle about it."

As busy as Geile was, he didn't have time for two-hour meetings, Broderius said with a chuckle of his own.

In the past decade or more, Broderius said, Geile has worked to find — and get elected — good candidates for school board and Greeley City Council, helping run campaigns and raise money.

Recent examples include Mayor Pro Tem John Gates and District 6 school board member Doug Lidiak.

"He thought people should stand up and take responsibility for governing their own community," Broderius said. "And he hated to lose, just hated to lose. His passion was right out in front."

Former Aims Community College Board of Trustees President Walt Richter said he had coffee with Geile a couple of weeks ago, adding Geile was in good spirits.

Geile operated a realty business for years, and Richter remembers Geile's wealth of knowledge with accounting and property values being indispensable for Aims.

Richter said he learned a lot from Geile, and was inspired by him because of his community service.

"(Greeley and Weld County) are losing a tireless leader," Richter said. "When he decides to volunteer, he puts himself entirely into that role. The community and the county are much better for his participation."

Along with serving on Weld County institutions like the United Way or on the Board of Weld County Commissioners, Geile has helped foster new nonprofits over the years.

He served as a board member for the Community Foundation Serving Greeley and Weld County in its infancy two decades ago, for example, and foundation spokeswoman Deborah Cameron said the foundation offers its most sincere condolences to Geile's family.

"He set the stage for us to be able to impact the community for the last 20 years," Cameron said.

Along the way, Geile has become a Greeley and Weld County institution in his own right.

He has received the humanitarian award from the United Way of Weld County, and this past spring was honored with the organization's Live United Award for his giving of time, leadership and his advocacy.

When asked whether Geile belongs on a list of the area's top leaders through the years, Truswell didn't hesitate.

"Oh my goodness yes," she said.

Geile was diagnosed with cancer in November. By Friday morning, he looked more like himself, Helen said.

"It's been a hard journey for him. Having cancer and going through that is difficult," she said. "This morning, he seemed much more at peace and looked more like himself. We've been blessed with an extremely full and happy life. So many friends and people have shown such concern and care. It's just been remarkable to me the way the community has rallied behind Mike during his illness. It meant a lot to him and of course a lot to me."

Services pending

Longtime Greeley public servant Mike Geile died peacefully at 8:30 a.m. Friday, leaving behind his wife, four children and five grandchildren after an eight-month battle with cancer. Funeral arrangements are pending.