In Memory

Michael Lione

Tireless advocate of the disabled, Basketball was not just a pastime - it was his life Michael D. Lione, 66, of West Orange, N.J., passed away on Wednesday, May 29, 2013.

Born in San Antonio, Texas, Mike lived for 14 years in Newark, N.J., before living in West Orange for the remainder of his life. He held a B.S. in industrial engineering from Newark College of Engineering (NCE) /New Jersey Institute of Technology. He worked for over 30 years with Verizon (formerly New Jersey Bell/Bell Atlantic) as an engineer and a manager within various departments throughout his career.

Mike was a polio survivor since age two, and never allowed the polio to be an obstacle in his life. His ability to overcome the challenges of life in a wheelchair served as an inspiration to many who also used wheelchairs, and to more who did not. Mike worked in several capacities to champion awareness of the challenges for the disabled. He was a member of the board of trustees on organizations such as the Community Health Law Project (CHLP), and past president of Disabilities Issues Awareness Leaders (DIAL), an advocacy group for Verizon employees with disabilities. He was in the forefront of ADA compliance issues. As president of DIAL, he followed up on those issues. In 1978 he received the N.J. Bell "Citizen of the Year" Award. Mike developed an interest in basketball during his high school years. He began playing at 17 and his devotion to the game blossomed into a lifetime of basketball as a player, coach, creator, organizer, mentor and general manager. Some of the many teams and organizations include the N.J. Wheelers, United Spinal Association (USA, nee EPVA), N.J. Blue Devils, Parsippany Elks Wheelers, Kessler Sports On Wheels, NAWAA (North American Wheelchair Athletic Association), EPVA/USA Nets and the Jersey Shore Summer Basketball League. He was a member of the Olympic Torch Relay for the 2004 Summer Olympics. A moment of silence will be observed on Monday, July 1, at the opening of the 43rd season of the Jersey Shore Summer Basketball League to honor longtime coach of Larson Ford, Mike Lione.

Mike coached for Larson from 1972 through 1993, winning five championships along the way. He then served as general manager. In total, Larson has won 10 championships in the league's 43-year history. Many pro, future pro and overseas players came through Mike's program in addition to Pro-Am leagues and tournaments over the years that are too numerous to mention. Larson Ford will dedicate this season to Mike's memory.

Mike is survived by his loving sister, Mary Anne T. Lione, of Long Valley, N.J., and was predeceased by his parents, Michael and Olga C. Lione of West Orange. He will be missed by his family members and the most amazing group of friends anyone could ever hope to have. 


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03/22/15 02:44 PM #1    

Melvin Maher

Bo, there is not a day goes by I don't think of you.

03/22/15 07:22 PM #2    

David Belfiore

Mel, I think about him alot, since my amputation, and just how brave he was, he was an amazing human being and I happy that new him.

03/23/15 06:39 AM #3    

Franklin Bell

I fondly remember Mike as a giant among men.  Always had a smile on his face.

I saw him everyday at basketball practice.  Nothing was ever too hard for him.

He always worried about everyone else. He taught me so much and I will always

love him and remember him fondly.  It was my honor and privilege to know him.

                  REST IN PEACE    Love, your friend     Franklin Bell




03/24/15 02:40 PM #4    

Merrill De Witt

I spent a lot of time with Mike at his house. He had wonderful parents and a really cute sister. We spent hours playing one on one basketball, me in his spare wheelchair. He used to cream me. Mike used to come up to Redwood School and actually played with us. He would set a mean pick and he really could shoot. Years later I would catch up with him at  Net games. Many times his wheelchair basketball team would put on a half time show. Always a smile on his face and a cheerful demeanor. Mike never made an issue of his handicap and none of us let him know he had one. If you look up Mensch in the Yiddish dictionary there is a picture of Mike.

03/25/15 04:48 PM #5    

Marilyn Mauer (Harris)

Beautiful tributes from some wonderful friends. It was a pleasure to read them. He would be smiling.

Marilyn Mauer Harris

03/26/15 05:51 PM #6    

Ken Rich

Beautifully said Merrill.

Mike and I lived a few houses apart. Our families both moved to West Orange in the summer of 1960. We fast became best friends, and remained so throughout high school and well beyond.

I'm not certain Merrill, but I think you were at Mike's one day in winter when we shoveled the snow off his driveway so we could play ball. The snowbank behind the hoop made for a cushy landing on hard drives ("Foul?! What foul?!"). We played for several hours. Mid-way through, Mama Lione called us inside where she had cooked up a dozen hot dogs for us, or was it two?

Not only did we often play at Redwood School, as Mel will attest, Mike knew every decent court in the county and beyond, every court with lights. Countless times we played 3 on 3 or 4 on 4 pick-up games straight up, no advantage - and won. By the time the opposition realized what Mike could do - yes, the mean pick, the shot, the pick and roll - it was too late. Then there were all those weekend nights when we brought our dates home early claiming to be really tired, met up at a court and played until one in the morning; the years we snuck into the gym at Fairleigh Dickinson, schmoozed our way into a couple of other college gyms ("Really, are you going to turn down a kid in a wheelchair?"). When it came to basketball, there was little we would not stoop to.

Fond, fond memories of a friend I loved dearly.



03/27/15 02:14 PM #7    

Stuart Goldfaden

Wow!  I am so moved and impressed by all of your memories of Mike Lione.  I am really sorry that I did not make a better effort to get to know him, and enjoy his inspiring presence.

Stu Goldfaden

03/27/15 08:28 PM #8    

Lainey Drucker (Zwibel)

I was not aware of Mike's activities after graduation however I will never forget how he drove Donna & I

from game to game always wearing a great big smile- Thank You Michael

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