Michael Andrew Zuga died peacefully in his sleep on June 21, 2019. He was born in Warren, Ohio on February 14, 1968. A perennial Valentine’s Day gift, Mike brought endless joy to his family and friends with his sweet disposition, big bear hugs, and mischievous spirit.
He spent his early years in Warren. Spending time with his Zuga and McLeod cousins, taking part in Zuga family lamb and pig roasts, and working on his Uncle Gary and Aunt Terry’s farm were among Mike’s happiest childhood experiences.
When he was a teenager, Mike’s family lived in Johnson City, Tennessee and Newnan, Georgia where he developed his natural athletic ability on basketball, wrestling, and football teams. In Newnan, he was a center on Coach Max Bass’s football team from 1983-85, and made the Bally All-American team, while also being named Newnan Cougars’ Most Valuable Senior. Recently, he was inducted into the Coweta County Sports Hall of Fame for his accomplishments. Mike was recruited by many SEC universities. Coach Bass’s guidance and Coach Sylvester Croom are why he ultimately chose to attend the University of Alabama. He became a starting center where he lettered for three years on the Crimson Tide’s offensive line. Following his freshman season, he was named to the All-SEC Freshman team and was awarded the University President’s Award for the Highest-Grade Point Average on the team. In his senior year, his team won the SEC championship.
Mike graduated with a BS in Commerce and Business Administration/Corporate Finance and later obtained an MBA from Vanderbilt University’s Owen School of Graduate Management.
Professionally, Mike applied his teamwork and leaderships skills in executive positions in home health companies, including NPHC, Inc. and Ambient Healthcare, Inc. in Huntsville, Alabama. For the past two and a half years, Mike and his wife, Leah, lived in Tempe, Arizona, where Mike worked for Preferred Home Care/Lifecare Solutions, AccentCare, Inc., and Triangle Healthcare Advisors, LLC.
Mike was an avid reader and enjoyed sharing and discussing spy and military thriller novels with his mother. He also loved to play golf, grill out and prepare meals for others, and travel. He was very proud of his Slovenian and Scottish heritage. Among his favorite trips were his and his wife Leah’s honeymoon to Slovenia and Italy and family visits to his McLeod ancestors’ Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. He also loved tailgating with his ‘Bama crew.
Whether a day was spent at a football game, watching a NASCAR race at home, or cooking out in the backyard, Mike enjoyed capping it off with a good cigar and a fine scotch with his friends and loved ones.
He is survived by the two loves of his life, his wife, Leah, and daughter, Annabeth; parents,
Margaret Benton and William Zuga; siblings Jean Jaeger; nephew Jahn Jaeger (and spouse
Meghan and their son Jack); Matt Zuga (and spouse Leslie); nephews Alexander and Nicholas Zuga; sister, Katherine Zuga; Uncle Gary Zuga and Aunt Marlene Karush; extended Zuga and McLeod families; Leah’s extended Lowrey family; his ‘Bama Psi Phi brothers, including his closest friend, Joe Demos; and Havanese dogs, Ozzy and Nugget.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made to the fund established for his daughter Annabeth’s mission trip:https://www.gofundme.com/annabeth-zuga039s-world-race-semester-mission-trip or to CTE research. Mike and several of his teammates recently participated in the current NIH CTE Study: http://DiagnoseCTE.com. Donations can be made in Mike’s honor online at https://development.bmc.org/mckee or by mail to CTE Research/Ann McKee, M.D. Research Fund, Boston Medical Center Office of Development, 801 Massachusetts Avenue, First Floor Boston, MA 02118-2393.
A celebration of Mike’s life will be held at A.M. Booth’s Lumberyard 108 Cleveland Ave, NW Huntsville, AL 35801 on Saturday, July 27 from 4 - 6 p.m. All who knew Mike and his family are welcome to attend.