Mike was born on January 31, 1967, to Joe and Donna Paidar. He grew up in Mechanicsville, Iowa, across the street from the fire station. He had a lifelong passion for firefighting that began at a very early age. Mike would pretend to be Paramedic Johnny Gage from his favorite show, Emergency! His dad even made him a homemade biophone so Mike could “call in” to Rampart General. Mike’s path to becoming a career firefighter paramedic was out of the ordinary but provided many entertaining stories at the fire stations.
Mike played basketball for St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa; he had fun with his teammates, and they enjoyed two National Tournament appearances. After college, he pursued a journalism career as a TV photojournalist for WQAD-TV Moline IL, KCRG-TV Cedar Rapids IA, and KSTP-TV St. Paul MN. Throughout his career, Mike covered many stories nationally and internationally. At KSTP, he won multiple Emmy Awards and was on staff when they earned NPPA’s Station of the Year in 1999.
Despite being an award-winning photojournalist, Mike knew his true calling. In 2005, he joined the Maple Grove Fire Department as an on-call firefighter. He completed the University of Iowa Paramedic Program in 2008 and joined the St. Paul Fire Department in 2011. It meant the world to Mike to have his father, a 22-year volunteer firefighter, pin his badge at the St. Paul Firefighter Academy graduation.
At 6′ 9″ tall, Mike physically made an impression on everyone. But it was more than just his tall stature that made him memorable; it was his love for his wife, children, and family, his faith in God, his meaningful friendships, humor, quick wit, culinary skills, and his enthusiasm for the fire service.
Mike was an incredibly good man with a huge smile and an even bigger heart. Whether parenting, coaching, mentoring, or teaching, Mike encouraged everyone to do their best, to enjoy the moment, and to see their full potential. He positively touched so many.
Mike was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia on Valentine’s Day 2020, with his wife by his side. For six months, he courageously battled AML, always maintaining his optimism, his sense of humor, his love for family, and his desire to get back on shift at the fire department.
Mike passed away on August 26, 2020. He is survived by his wife of 25 years, Julie; son, Matthew Paidar; daughter, Meghan Paidar; parents, Joe and Donna Paidar; sister, Susan (Darrell) Henricksen; nieces, Maddie, Danielle, and Katie Henricksen; in-laws, Bob and Joyce Hansen; brother-in-law, Kevin (Bobbi) Hansen; and nephews, Kyle and Seth Hansen.