Michael John Onderko


Michael John Onderko passed away on May 27, 2021 at Kansas City Hospice House (MO), following a long illness.

 He was born on April 18, 1968 in Erie, PA to parents John E. Onderko Jr. and Sandra Lee (Parker) Onderko. He attended Harborcreek elementary school and in 1986, graduated from McDowell High School in Millcreek Township PA.  

He earned several degrees: a BA degree in Special Education from Indiana University of PA; a Master of Education degree from Fredonia State University of NY; a Master of Education Administration degree from University of South Carolina, Columbia SC;  and a PhD (ABD) in Education Administration from Capella University.  

Using his formal education, his gentle nature, and his giving disposition, he gave much to the communities and people he served.   He began his career as a Special Education teacher at the Dr. Gertrude A. Barber Center in Erie. He was affectionately called “Mr. O” by the special-needs children he taught and cared for in the school districts of Dunkirk NY; Louisville, KY; Florence SC; Conway SC; Phoenix AZ; Bakersfield CA; Monterey CA; Greenfield CA; Leavenworth KS; and Lawrence KS. In these school districts he held educational and administrative positions which included: Special Ed teacher, Program Coordinator, Special Education Director, Special Education Regional Director, Director of Alternative Education and of Student Services, and Assistant Principal.

In his youth, he was an avid racquetball player competing in many tournaments when he lived in the Erie, PA area. He was an Erie, a regional, and a nationally ranked racquetball champion. Later in life, he engaged in community sports such as softball and volleyball. Mike enjoyed spending time with his family and his friends, delighting all with his humor and love of board games.  Mike most loved his three dogs who were his closest companions, Dot, Finn and LB. He enjoyed cooking (and eating) food, and was a dedicated follower of the “Food Network”. He also enjoyed home remodeling, completing some serious ceramic tile projects. He liked to gamble and loved taking trips to Las Vegas. When young, he fished with his grandfather in Pymatuning Lake and with friends in Lake Erie. He wanted to come home and to fish again in Lake Erie.

He is survived by his parents and his sister Carrie Onderko; brother Nathan Onderko, niece Isabella Onderko; two step brothers Erik Balodis, Alan Balodis; and two step-moms, Ann Onderko, and Angela Onderko.


Funeral arrangements will be private. A private memorial will be held by family along the shores of Lake Erie.

Memorial Contributions

Memorial donations in Michael’s memory may be made to Kansas City Hospice House, 12000 Wornall Road, Kansas City, MO 64145, or to a local hospice organization; or to any animal rescue organization.

1 Comment

  1. Dan Karasek on June 17, 2021 at 9:31 am

    I am very sorry to hear this news. I was able to work with Mike the last two years at West in Lawrence, and though our paths did not cross every day, it was easy to see his gentle nature even as his health deteriorated. He did a lot of great things helping students during his time.

    I send my condolences to all of his family. His life was much too short, and he will be missed.

Leave a Comment

Obituaries & Condolences

Jill Elaine Jordan

Helen Oneita (Moss) Mansell

Pamela June Wills

Shirley Faye McFarland

Deborah J. Puhr

Clifford William Doherty, Jr.

Vicki Bruner Louvier

Patricia Ann Kuehn

John McClain

Jennifer Marie Adriano

Timothy J. Trusler

Esther Brown Atha Giffin