Michael Andrew Friedhofer, 44, of West Hempfield, fought courageously against ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, until the very end. Motivated by love for his wife and daughter and wishing to provide for his family, Michael refused to relinquish his job.
Indeed, up until one day before his death, Michael tenaciously worked full time as a primary examiner for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. During his 21 years of employment, Michael achieved excellence in his field. Even with his illness, Michael’s production rate was 112 percent at the end of the past fiscal year.
Michael passed in his home on Tuesday, May 7, 2013, leaving his wife of 16 years, Rae Eby, and their 15-year-old autistic daughter, Emma. For the past four years, Rae focused on coordinating his medical care, supervised his attendants and advocated on Michael’s behalf. Thanks to Michael’s provision, Rae has homeschooled Emma for the past eight years and plans to continue. Furthermore, Emma has receive interventional services, therapeutic medical care, and a service dog named Melody.
While Michael was officially diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) in August 2009, symptoms of the disease surfaced in June 2007. Despite progressive muscle weakness and paralysis, Michael chose joy over bitterness, hope over despair.
"Michael was a man of great faith," said the Rev. John Longmire of Hempfield United Methodist Church, where Michael attended. "Through all of these struggles he said he never got angry with God." Michael told Rev. Longmire that though his journey was hard, it was not terrible, "because the Lord has been with me and with us and provided blessings along the way."
Michael was an avid reader, self-professed geek (before it was chic), and passionate sci-fi fan. Rae and Emma shared his interests in Renaissance faires, brain games, video games, superheroes and comic books. The family attended Comic Con 2010 in New York City. The annual New York Comic Con is the East Coast’s biggest and most exciting popular culture convention.
Additionally, Michael took great satisfaction in reading the Bible, hungrily devouring in-depth studies. Michael and Rae taught first grade at Hempfield UMC. Michael enjoyed working behind the scenes of the church’s family production, Kidstuf, vacation Bible school, children’s musicals.
So loved was Michael at the church and by family and friends, that about 65 volunteers joined to form Team Michael in February 2011. They helped the family with errands, home maintenance, and everyday tasks so his wife could focus on his care.
Michael was born Oct. 31, 1968, at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia. His family moved to Lancaster in 1973. Michael graduated from Hempfield High School in 1986. He earned a B.S. degree in electrical engineering from the University of Pittsburgh in 1990.
Michael is survived by his wife, Rae; his daughter, Emma; his parents, David D. and Margaret “Lynn” (McCafferty) Friedhofer; his older brother David Friedhofer Jr. of Willow Street and his younger sister Corinne Feyock of West Hempfield; maternal grandmother, Margaret “Nana” McCafferty of West Chester; three nephews, three nieces; and a number of aunts and uncles.
A celebration of Michael’s life will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 1 at Hempfield UMC 3050 Marietta Ave., Lancaster. The family will receive friends prior to the service at the church, from 10 to 10:45. Burial will be private.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Michael’s memory to the
3060 Industry Dr.
Lancaster, PA 17601
To place a condolence online, please visit SnyderFuneralHome.com. Charles F. Snyder Funeral Home & Crematory 717-872-5041
Dear Rae and Emma,
My hearts go out to both of you and wish you strength and Courage (although you clearly have an abundance of both). May Michael’s memory be a blessing.
Lysa Selfon Puma
Dear Rae & Family.
My thoughts and prayers are with you all during this time. Michael was such a great guy and will be greatly missed. It was such a great pleasure to be able to care for Michael over the last year. He was a true inspirational to all. May it be a true joy that Michael is not suffering anymore and is celebrating in heaven. God Bless the entire family of Michael!
Dear Rae and Emma,
You were nd are Michael’s greatest champions. The three of you showed how love feeds life. May you remember Michael with blessings and many wonderful memories.
Rosanne and David
Dear Rae and Emma,
Our thoughts & prayers are with you at this time as we pray for God to keep you in His care. May your memories keep your dear husband and father in your hearts. Michael touched the lives of many with his gracious manner, dynamic spirit and genuine interest in making the world a finer place. Take care of yourselves at this difficult time and know we are keeping you in our hearts.
Love and Peace,
Gisele, John, Isabella and Rowan Siebold
I’m so very sorry for your loss. Praying for strength and trusting that comfort and peace will come.
(OP – work with Lynn)
Dear Rae & Emma, and Mike’s Mom, Dad, brother, sister & grandmother,
It is with a heavy heart that I learned of Mike’s illness and passing. He will be dearly missed by his coworkers and friends. I have fond memories of earning our BSEE degrees at Pitt with Mike and of living nearby and working with him during his days in VA at the USPTO. One of my fondest memories is of driving him home over the Christmas break from Pitt to Lancaster in a blinding snow storm only to be warmly received by his loving family. Mike was a fantastic mentor during our college days together and serves as an inspiration.
Our thoughts and prayers are with you,
Rich & Terri Elms
Dear Rae and Emma-
I just learned of Michaels passing. I am so sorry for your loss. I am glad to know you had many joyful years together with a wonderful husband and father. I will continue to keep you in my thoughts and prayers.
Sari Smith Bosch
Our four funeral homes in Lancaster County makes it easy and convenient to make arrangements and host services close to home.