A longtime Missouri lawmaker who championed education will be laid to rest Tuesday in Jefferson City.
Former State Rep. Mike Lair, R-Chillicothe, served in the Missouri House from 2008 to 2016. The 71-year-old Lair died last week.
Lair is being praised by former State Rep. Genise Montecillo, D-St. Louis, who served with Lair for six years.
“He was my (committee) chair in education appropriations, we served on several education committees and full Budget (committee) together and there were no political parties as far as we were concerned when it came to children and serving the children of the state of Missouri,” Montecillo says.
Montecillo describes Lair as a “true public servant” and an “amazing human being.”
“My time in Jefferson City was better because Representative Lair was there too,” says Montecillo. “Mike never lost sight of why he was there.”
Montecillo tells Missourinet Lair “had her back”, adding that he wanted what was best for children and worked across party lines on early literacy issues.
Lair chaired the Joint Committee on Education, and chaired the House Select Committee on Education during his final term. Montecillo says Lair’s “heart was education.”
“He was a teacher, he was a coach and those of us that teach we have that passion, that is how we define ourselves, you know, teachers and coaches and parents,” Montecillo says.
Former House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, describes Lair as an “elder statesman”, saying Lair brought passion to every issue.
Lair was born in Omaha, graduating from Creighton Preparatory Jesuit High School in 1964. He played football at Colorado State.
Lair taught history at Chillicothe High School (CHS) from 1987 until he retired in 2008. He also was the CHS boys track coach from 1988 until 1996, and was an assistant football coach at Chillicothe for several years.
He taught and coached in Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota for more than 38 years, including time teaching on the Rosebud Indian Reservation.
Lair’s funeral service is Tuesday at noon at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Jefferson City. Monsignor Robert Kurwicki will officiate.
Numerous current and former state lawmakers are expected to attend. Many others, including Montecillo, attended Monday’s visitation at the Cathedral.
Veteran Livingston County Sheriff Steve Cox and former State Sen. David Pearce, R-Warrensburg, will be among the pallbearers.
Missouri Governor Eric Greitens has ordered flags at all government buildings statewide to be flown at half-staff again on Tuesday, because of Lair’s passing.
Click here to listen to the full interview between Missourinet news director Brian Hauswirth and former State Rep. Genise Montecillo, D-St. Louis, which was recorded on September 8, 2017: