It is with great sadness that we must announce the death of our beloved brother, John Michael Thies. He passed away quietly at home in Overland Park, Kansas after a brief illness.
John Michael was born August 1, 1964 in Kansas City, Kansas as the first of four sons to John and Mary Ann. As the family grew, they migrated first to St. Louis, then Moberly, on to Springfield, and finally to Kansas City, Missouri, where they put down permanent roots.
As a young student, John had a breezy intelligence and charm,always a favorite among the teachers, which set an aggravatingly unobtainable standard for the Thies boys that followed. By junior high school, John had discovered the stage and readily commanded the spotlight. As a 9th grader at Raytown Junior High School, he brought the house down with his manic and hilarious interpretation of The Grinch, so much so that the performance was repeated for parents’ night. At Raytown South High School, he somehow convinced the administration to allow him to produce and star in a series of sketch comedy assemblies. Never have students been so happy to escape class for an hour, as the auditorium rocked with howls of laughter, as teachers and administrators were skewered by one of their own. The stage, as they say, had been set.
John began what was an amazing journey. After his college years at Mizzou, he joined Second City in Chicago, where he trained and performed from 1987-1994. There, he was part of the national touring company, then became a resident player in Chicago, and later a cast member at the premiere of Second City Detroit. While in Chicago, he received a nomination for Best Actor for the prestigious Joseph Jefferson Awards. Next, he designed the teaching curriculum for the newly formed Second City Training Center New York.
In 1995, John made the move to New York, where he cofoundedthe critically acclaimed Burn Manhattan, an improvised show that ran off-Broadway for several years. During this time, healso appeared on SNL and was a regular on Late Night with Conan O’Brien. While in New York, he also cofounded RPM Entertainment, an online provider of original comedic content. He also developed The Eye Factory, an improvisation training and performance space, and later cofounded Nada 45, a theater that Time Out magazine called “the place to find New York’s best and brightest comedic talent.”
In 2001, it was on to Los Angeles, where John developed his theater and improv training program, The Hot House. It was there that John truly hit his stride, training and mentoringhundreds of young actors. His Hot House legacy is one of generosity, wisdom and comedic brilliance.
After a long and successful run in LA, John returned home to Kansas City in 2013. He decided to further his education, this time with a degree in Psychology. He then began yet another new chapter, this time as a counselor at Truman Medical Center, where he had an immediate and powerful impact on some of the most vulnerable members of our community.
John was an amazing son, brother, actor, teacher and counselor. He gave the world great laughter; always delivered with wry intelligence. Perceptive and thoughtful, he was a great sounding board and guide. An adoring uncle, he truly loved his six nieces and nephews.
John loved a great cup of coffee, Thai food, and a spirited debate about how to make the world a better place. He inspired us, made us laugh and beam with pride. We will miss him dearly.
So, to all of John’s friends and the many devoted members of his tribe, we thank you for sharing in his life.
In lieu of flowers, our family asks that you consider a donation, in John Michael’s name, to the International Juvenile Diabetes Foundation at jdrf.org/donate, or the National Alliance to End Homelessness at help.endhomelessness.org/donate.
The family is honored to receive visitors at Langsford Funeral Home at 115 SW 3rd Street, Lee’s Summit, Missouri on Monday, June 1st beginning at 1:00 PM with a Memorial Service at 2:00 PM.
Lee’s Summit, MO 64063
Lee’s Summit, MO 64063
Words cannot express my sadness for your family. You are all in my thoughts and prayers
Uncle John, Aunt Mary Ann, Steven, Kevin, Brian – there are no words that do justice in a time like this. I hope you can feel the circle of love from family near and far, and that the incredible strength that your family has long had helps get you through. With great love and sympathy, Jen, Jay and Riley
John and Mary Ann
I am praying that John Michael is in the arms of Jesus. I am also praying that you will be comforted by your three sons and their beautiful families.
We will have a phone date very soon .
Love to ALL, Rosy
My family and I want to express are condolences to the Theis Family. May the peace of God; as well as the support of family, friends and John`s loving and comedic spirit get you through. I also want to send my thoughts to my fellow swim team members, Kevin and Steve. Our thoughts and prayers are sent to you and your families.
May the peace of the Lord be with you all
1984 Raytown South grad
I am truly sorry for your loss. Friends are forever Georgia
I’ve had the pleasure of working with John since he started at Truman. John worked tirelessly with people in the trenches, the most difficult of the most difficult, that others would prefer to look past and move along to instead help someone else, someone easier. John helped people find hope, who often had no hope for themselves. He did so with perseverance and grace, even in the face of insurmoutable obstacles. John helped people find new perspectives, regardless of how challenging their circumstances may be. It was an honor and a privilege to have known him and have had the opportunity to work along aside him.
I am heartbroken over the loss of an exceptional young man and the grief of his loving family. May you find solace in the love and caring thoughts of friends and family.
I went to high school with John. I ran into him at work at Truman a few months ago and during our brief conversation knew he was making a huge difference in his clients life. So sorry for your loss and a life taken too soon.
My thoughts and prayers are with all the Thies family! Much love to you. John Micheal was such an amazing funny guy taken from us way too soon. May God comfort you all in some way. Words can not describe the sadness I feel so I can’t imagine yours. Please know our family loves you all.
Mary Ann and Family,
Prayers for John Michael and all of you. May the Sacred Heart of Jesus wrap you in his loving arms and comfort you until you all meet again in heaven.
I went to high school with John and have very fond memories. My condolences to John’s family and friends.
I am so sorry for your loss. Many blessings to you and your family in this difficult time.
My heart is broken to hear of this loss -John was a brilliant bright light in my life…I first met him in NY in an art shop and we ended up painting together, then eventually moved with him to LA, after stopping in Missouri and painting again, this time house painting to save enough money to move out to LA . We shared a passion for improvisation and were very proud of the theatre and training program we built together, the Hothouse…my heart is happy to know that he continued in his service to others, working as a counselor…he had a gift of putting his focus out, to help others, and help bring out their best-he certainly did that for me…much love, Lana
Dear Thies Family,
Sending love from Los Angeles. John left his mark on our hearts through his art and friendship. We grieve with you now and in the days ahead. He talked of you all often (especially Emma) and while I’ve never met you, I love you all because John was my friend – and to love him is to love you all, by default. He made an impact on so many artists here in LA. Much love, DJ “Hothouse Alumnus”
John and Mary Ann and to all of John Michael’s family: we are so sorry for your loss. We remember John Michael as a handsome, intelligent and enthusiastic young man. What a remarkable life and career he experienced! You are in our thoughts and prayers. We understand your grief. (David Egger 1968-2016)
Gary and Janeil Egger
As one of John’s former teachers at RSHS, just want to add my sympathy for your loss. John was a delight to have in Drama class! I am so proud of his accomplishments during his life!
Mary Ann and John
You have my deepest and utmost sympathy for your loss of, as I remember him called, John Michael. In reading his obituary, I was astounded by the accomplishments listed in such a short life of which I know you are immensely proud. Your supportive family will provide love and comfort to the great strength you both have. I noticed John and Jane’s time in Los Angeles overlapped. I wonder if they ever met there. I hope so.
I am so sorry that I am just learning of John’s passing. He was my teacher at Hot House and he was wonderful. So smart and fun and incredibly generous and nurturing. His memory is a blessing.