Mike Lade ’88, Distinguished Humanitarian
Mike Lade ’88 is a seasoned senior financial executive and strategic thinker who has spent half of his 25-year career developing a company that helps families navigate one of the most emotional and challenging purchases they will ever make—a funeral.
He is also known for giving back to the communities in which he has deep connections, including The Association of Southwestern University Alumni. Most recently, Mike’s volunteer efforts have been focused on the cause of food allergies and, as a result, he has built the most successful awareness and fundraising walk event in the country, which takes place annually in Houston.
On a personal level, Mike is an excellent communicator who builds meaningful relationships that last. Those lasting relationships include many of Mike’s fellow Southwestern alumni, including one of his PIKE fraternity brothers, who says when Mike takes on a task, he gives it his all; his blood, sweat and tears are poured into his involvement and it shows.
Another lifelong friend—dating back to Little League days when Mike’s dad, Bobby Lade ’60, was a coach—says that Mike has an unrivaled ability to listen, be in the moment, and understand, and that his unique ability to provide wonderful but well reasoned answers to life’s difficult questions is unmatched.
Mike embodies Southwestern’s core purpose, especially through his work with the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (which recently merged with the Food Allergy Initiative to form FARE - the Food Allergy Research & Education organization). When his son, Andrew, was diagnosed with severe food allergies, Mike offered leadership, talents and skills to help the organization raise funds, as well as raise awareness of food allergies and make changes in the public schools. One of his colleagues says that Mike is always willing to get in the trenches with everyone at FARE; that he doesn’t just give advice or directions, but is willing to take the extra step and tackle the problem himself. And all of this is on top of Mike’s commitments as a husband and father of three, as well as the CFO of a large company.
Friends describe Mike as a person of integrity, a loyal and caring friend, a loving husband and dad, and a trusted confidant. His mother adds that he has always been thoughtful, hard-working, kind, fun-loving, sensitive … and stubborn … but most of all, a loving son, brother, husband, father and friend.
Mike works hard at all he does. From his work with FARE, to his role as an Elder in his church; from his leadership position with the Boy Scouts of America to his service to Southwestern, one friend says any organization would be blessed to have Mike as a volunteer. In fact, even though his son has outgrown his allergies, Mike’s commitment to FARE remains as strong as ever.
As a family man, Mike makes calls and checks on his mom every day, and never hangs up without saying, “I love you.” Mike is a brother who still worries about his sister and her family; a husband who loves and supports his wife in every endeavor; and a dad who loves, advises and expects the very best from and for his three sons.
Friends say Mike is always available to lend an ear and to offer advice and support—the type of friend everyone hopes to have, and the type of friend they hope their children find in their lifetime. One Southwestern alumna says that Mike can be counted on to be all-in, bravely and boldly bulldozing a path for the rest to follow. She says, “Mike taught me that you have to be willing to do more than just talk—you have to be willing to model and persuade, to take risks, and to be someone whose voice, hands and heart are aligned.”
Although there may be some “stories” to share, it seems that memories have faded over time and what Mike’s friends are left with is that his character does not waver. A fellow alumnus shares that even in college, Mike knew what was right and what was wrong, and says we should all be so lucky to have such a good soul around us who remains as firm in his stance as Mike does.
Fighting the good fight; for being there for friends, family, colleagues and even strangers in good times and bad; for taking on his dad’s tradition of “always doing the right thing, even if you don’t want to;” and for loving his alma mater, The Association of Southwestern University Alumni presented Mike with the 2013 Distinguished Humanitarian Award.