Michael Lauer

January 16, 1955 — September 16, 2023

Service Details

Michael Joseph Lauer, 68, died peacefully at home, surrounded by family, on Saturday, September 16, 2023 from plasma cell leukemia.

Michael was born January 16, 1955, in Farming, Minnesota, to Victor and Hildegard (Silvers) Lauer. He graduated from St. John’s Preparatory School in Collegeville, MN. At the age of 17, Michael learned the techniques of Transcendental Meditation and began a lifelong practice. The peace he gained through meditation changed his life, and he credited it for much of the gentleness and attention that characterized his relationships and interactions with the world. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in agronomy from the University of Minnesota – finding the calling in crop science and plant physiology to which he dedicated his working life.

Michael earned his master’s degree from Iowa State University, where he met Karen (Totemeier) Lauer, the love of his life. They were married on July 27, 1985, sharing love and partnership for over 38 years. Their great love, and the love they shared for the family they built together, was the center of his life.

Michael went on to earn his Ph.D. from the University of Missouri-Columbia and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Delaware. He worked for Pioneer/Corteva for more than 25 years, where he led with care and shared his knowledge generously. Most recently Michael served as Research Director at PowerPollen. He valued his relationships with his colleagues and left a scientific legacy through his research and mentorship.

Michael loved his family, near and far, above all else. He delighted in being a father and was the best dad we could ever imagine, showing love for his family every day through acts of service and kindness. He loved science fiction in every form, cooking his signature meals, and experiencing the natural world. He took care to notice the everyday joys and wonders of life and approached the world with intention, openness, and dedication.

Michael was a member of First Unitarian Church of Des Moines, where he was dedicated to the community and to pursuing a greater understanding of others.

With his wife, Michael was deeply involved in immigration justice work. Together they were honored to sponsor two women seeking asylum in the US beginning in 2018, and to work with local and national organizations in pursuit of social and racial justice. Michael shared his agronomic expertise with smallholder farmers in Ethiopia (2014, 2015, and 2017) and with government extension agronomists in Nigeria (2016), helping them reap the full benefits of their labor through improved crop processing and storage. Michael understood that his humanity was entwined intimately with that of others. His love lasts forever in the lives he touched.

Michael is survived by his wife, Karen Lauer; children, Stephen, Zachary, Sarah, and Melissa Lauer; siblings, Rich, Jo, Mel, Betty, Julie, Helen, Sharon, Bill, Anne, and Gerald; and a host of nieces, nephews, other extended family, and many friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Victor and Hildegard Lauer, and his brother, Steven Lauer.

A celebration of life will be held at First Unitarian Church of Des Moines, 1800 Bell Avenue, Des Moines, on Saturday, November 11, 2023, at 1:00pm.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be directed to Knock and Drop Iowa.

Condolences may be expressed at www.HamiltonsFuneralHome.com.