January 4, 2011

The LSU community lost one of its dedicated faculty members on Dec. 17, when Michael Peter Mailander, associate professor in biological and agricultural engineering, passed away from natural causes.

A memorial mass will be held for Mailander at Christ the King Catholic Church on the LSU campus, Friday, Jan. 7, at 11:45 a.m.

“I have known Mike since we were in school together at Purdue University,” said Dan Thomas, current head of the Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department where Mike worked for the last 25 years. “He was a good friend and colleague who truly believed that we were here to make a difference in the lives of our students. He constantly pushed to maintain the fundamentals in engineering education. He always had a kind word for everyone and looked at the positive side of any situation.”  

Mailander, 56, was born in Denver on Nov. 20, 1954. He was the fifth child of Leo and Marie (Ortner) Mailander. He attended Holyoke Grade School and was a 1973 graduate of Holyoke High School. He was a member of National Honor Society and lettered in football, wrestling and track.

In 1985, Mailander accepted a position as assistant professor in LSU’s Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department. In 1991, Mailander was promoted to an associate professor, where he specialized in controls and sensors, fluid power, precision farming, machine design, power hydraulics and bio-energy. He taught a variety of engineering classes, where his passion for teaching and interacting with students was most evident, and completed a number of research projects.

Mailander held patents for the automatic control of a combine threshing cylinder and feeder conveyor, as well as for an automatic ground speed controller.

As a recipient of the Boettcher Foundation Scholarship, he obtained a bachelor’s degree in engineering science and mathematics from Regis College in Denver in 1977. While at Regis, Mailander attended the University of Regensburg, Germany. During that time he travelled to Gallneukirchen, Austria, to renew his friendship with his great-aunt Mary and other relatives.

While attending Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., Mailander obtained a master’s degree in engineering in 1979 and a Ph.D. in agricultural engineering in 1985 and was a graduate instructor in research.

Mailander was active in Christ the King Parish, LSU’s Catholic Center, in Baton Rouge, where he was a communion minister, lector and an RCIA catechist. He participated in missions to Mexico where he helped build a school and a church. He also brought LSU students to help in building a library in Adana, Turkey. He was the advisor and willing worker for LSU Habitat for Humanity. In addition, Mailander was a regular volunteer, preparing and serving food at a men’s shelter.

During visits to his family home in Holyoke, Colorado, he enjoyed preparing Cajun meals for his family. Mailander’s hobbies included cooking, movies, reading and international travel.

Preceding Mailander in death were his father, Leo; infant sister, Mary Ann; infant brother, William; and niece, Erin.

Survivors include his mother, Marie Ortner Mailander, sister, Joan, of Minneapolis, Minn.; brothers, Jim and wife Marlene of Brisbane, Australia, Bob and wife Rita of Denver, Paul and wife Teresa of Holyoke and Leo of Holyoke; 10 nieces and nephews; and three great-nieces. He was the proud godfather to his nieces Laura Mailander of Chicago, Ill., and Heather Mailander of Sydney, Australia.

A family vigil service was held Dec. 22 at his mother’s home. The Mass of Christian Burial was held Dec. 23 at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church with Father William Jungmann presiding. Interment followed at Holyoke Memorial Park.

Memorials may be made to the RCIA Program, Christ the King Parish and Catholic Center, P.O. Box 25131, Baton Rouge, LA 70894-5131. The link to Mailander’s memorial website is www.michael-mailander.memory-of.com. Gerk Funeral Home was entrusted with arrangements.



Article by Mimi LaValle, LSU College of Engineering, 225-578-5706, mlavall@lsu.edu

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