Detroit firefighter remembered with praise, laughs

Neal Rubin
The Detroit News


Detroit — Firefighter Michael Lubig spent most of his adult life in a job where humor is the antidote to tragedy. It only made sense that his funeral Tuesday was marked with laughter.

Lubig, 46, collapsed and died of a suspected heart attack Nov. 12 near the end of a 24-hour shift. More than 500 people, including upwards of 300 firefighters from multiple departments, attended his final mass at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Boston-Edison.

A loved one cries as she pays her respects before firefighters file into the church.

The son of a retired Detroit fire lieutenant, Lubig was remembered as a professional but also a prankster — someone who might deliver a urinal to a friend's front lawn, or even a toilet filled with cement to make it harder to haul away.

A carpet layer on the side, he would work for friends in exchange for a few beers and a few laughs ... but while he was on the job, he'd set his buddy's alarm clock for the middle of the night.

Mike Urbas, a close friend and fellow Detroit firefighter, noted that Lubig donated his organs, a gesture in keeping with his selfless nature.

Among them were his corneas, "and let that stranger know, Mike was colorblind," Urbas said. "At least, that's what he told me. You never knew if he was messing with you."

Lubig, who lived with his wife, Lisa, in Marysville, was assigned to Engine 58 on the east side but was working a shift as an acting sergeant with the west-side Squad 4 when he had a medical emergency.

Veteran Detroit Firefighter Michael Lubig died Monday after suffering a medical emergency while on the job.


All of 5-foot-7 in the most optimistic estimate, he answered to "little buddy" in the firehouses where he spent just shy of 20 years. Father Ray Stadmeyer of Most Blessed Sacrament told mourners that other firefighters would sometimes leave a step stool near the truck, or tell him, "C'mon, Mike, jump in my pocket."

Lubig left behind four children, six grandchildren and some enduring rules of life for his kids. "No lazy. No lying. No whining," Stadmeyer said. "It seems to me that was the epitome of what he was about."

Only three weeks before his death, Lubig had run a half-marathon. He also enjoyed martial arts, hunting, fishing, karaoke, and wearing ghastly outfits — typically out-of-date tuxedos with ruffled shirts — to friends' retirement parties.

Burial was at Elmwood Cemetery. His hearse was accompanied by trucks and other fire apparatus from as far away as Battle Creek.