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.