Where Food, Drinks & Stories Are Shared

Michael Montoya

October 17, 1977 - October 19, 2021
Chicago, IL


Mass of Christian Burial

Thursday, October 28, 2021
2:00 PM EDT
St. Augustine Cathedral
542 West Michigan
Kalamazoo, MI 49007
Web Site

Life Story Reception

Thursday, October 28, 2021
3:30 PM to 6:00 PM EDT
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
Kalamazoo Location
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
(269) 375-2900
Driving Directions


At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.

PAWS Chicago
Web Site

American Heart Association
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


Michael Montoya was known to his family, friends, and colleagues for his outgoing personality, his magnetic smile, and a heart as big as his body and strength. Michael was born in Southern California to John and Kim Montoya on October 17, 1977, the third of four children in the family. His mother described him as the happiest baby on earth who always smiled and giggled at almost everything and never resisted trying any new food. His love of food never waned. He spent the first five years of his life in southern California before moving to Denver, Colorado for four years. The family then moved on to Kalamazoo, MI for his father’s job at The UpJohn Co. where they remained for many years. Michael's extended family still lived out west, and he loved to spend time during the summer with his grandparents at their ranch in Colorado. He spent the days on the ranch helping his grandpa corral the cattle, and always making sure he was back to the house by 4pm to serve his grandmother her wine cooler. The family all learned to snow ski when they lived in Colorado so there were many trips back there for family ski vacations

Michael graduated from Portage Northern High School in 1996. He played football for the Huskies all four years as both an offensive fullback and defensive middle linebacker, receiving All Conference honors in his junior and senior years. Michael also enjoyed weightlifting during these years and even held some impressive school records. He had a very tight knit group of loyal friends during his school years, and these friendships have remained through the years.

After high school Michael moved on to attend The University of Michigan and studied Political Science. He was a member of the Psi U fraternity along with his older brother Eric and was fiercely devoted to University of Michigan football. He continued this devotion to the Wolverines for the rest of his life and he always strongly defended his team against his siblings that had college rivalries on a regular basis.

After college, Michael fulfilled a two-year commitment to the Ameri Corps in Colorado. From there he ventured to New York for a year exploring the Long Island area and trying a career as a chef. He then moved to Chicago where he worked a variety of jobs in the food and hospitality industry and eventually found his passion within the culinary arts. He acquired some impressive skills in preparing a variety of diverse and delicious dishes and always enjoyed experimenting and sharing them with family and friends. Two years ago, Michael decided to try a new adventure and moved on to a career as an acquisition finance manager for a local Chicago Honda dealership. He enjoyed sending his family multiple pictures of him driving a variety of high performance sports cars while flashing his great smile.

When Michael was not working, he enjoyed relaxing and cooking with his family and friends, taking his beloved dog Bosco for long walks on the beach, and rooting for his favorite sports teams – University of Michigan Wolverines, the Green Bay Packers, and the Milwaukee Brewers. Michael shared his Chicago favorites with the love of his life and life partner, Thanise. Together, they lived in several Chicago neighborhoods where they found their favorite restaurants and met new friends. Their favorite home was their current one overlooking the Lake Michigan They often looked forward to quiet dinners at home and apparently Michael was quite the fan of their weekend mani/pedi dates.

Michael’s Mom and siblings live in different cities but during the pandemic he was able to see them each week via Zoom playing Euchre. The group met every Sunday and Wednesday evenings and Michael always had his University of Michigan football hat on and his dog “Bosco” often made a cameo appearance. He was able to enjoy a final vacation recently on his family’s houseboat on Lake Powell. With Michael, you always knew he would see to it that you were having a good time. If all else failed, he would pull out his one-liners from just about any 80's movie you could think up, as he had an incredible ability to recall these details.

Michael’s life was abruptly cut short after suffering a heart attack at his home in Chicago on October 19, 2021. His sudden absence in our lives will leave a giant hole in our hearts forever. As we grieve the loss of Michael, we will hold our cherished and shared memories close to our hearts and will find comfort and peace in knowing that Michael lived life to the fullest and that he is now in his eternal life with his Dad, grandparents, and cousins Richard and Kelly.

Michael was preceded in death by his father, John Montoya in 1998. Surviving are his life-partner, Thanise Skouras; beloved dog, "Bosco;" mother, Kim Montoya (Paul Reiff); siblings: John II (Katie) Montoya; Eric Montoya and Michelle Montoya (Aaron Vande Ven) Eric (Winter) Mayes; step-siblings: Lauren (Tom) Drennen and Dan Reiff (Marissa); nieces and nephews: Ryan, Ella, Aleah, Liam and Miles; and many aunts, uncles, and cousins. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Thursday, October 28th at 2pm at St. Augustine’s Catholic Cathedral with a Life Story reception immediately following the services at Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Dr., Kalamazoo, MI 49009 (269) 375-2900. Visit Michael's webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, photos and sign his guestbook. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to PAWS of Chicago or The American Heart Association.