Nov 1, 2020

On Sunday, November 1, 2020, Michael Nelipovich, loving husband, father, and grandfather, died at age 75 after a gradual decline in health over the past two years. Michael was born in Detroit, Michigan, the grandson of Eastern European immigrants, who came to America seeking a better life in the auto industry.

He loved life and lived it fully. Selflessness was a hallmark of his character, and Michael could talk to anyone. He had a way of making people feel as if they were the only person in the room. As a result, he had hundreds of friends in all walks of life.

On December 29, 2006, Michael married Brenda Shearer, who calls him “the finest human being I’ve ever met”. He often described their relationship as “one soul with four feet”. Michael is also

survived by his adult children: Nicholas Nelipovich (Natalie) Uvalde, TX; Jessica Nelipovich (Shane) Motueka, New Zealand; Richard Elaver (Andrea) Boone, NC; and step daughter, Ann McGrath (Brooks), Lodi, Wisconsin. They describe their dad as compassionate, loving, open-minded, peaceful, family-oriented, and funny. He was always ready to listen them and to guide them, to celebrate their accomplishments, and to support them in their trials. His grandchildren, both nearby and far away, were his heart of hearts, bringing loving chaos whenever they visited. Michael was also a longtime friend of Bill W. He was deeply spiritual, always striving to be a better man.

Michael was born with a rare genetic disease, gradually losing all usable vision by age 45. Against the odds, he was the first in his family to earn a college degree, and the first person to earn the degree of Doctor of Rehabilitation, Rh D., from Southern Illinois University in 1981, an achievement of which he was justly proud. His life was dedicated to helping blind individuals live full, productive lives.

Michael was a nationally renowned leader in his field, a keynote speaker, a prolific researcher and publisher, a university professor, and the Director of the State of Wisconsin Services for the blind, overseeing a staff of rehabilitation professionals in all 73 counties of the state. A source of great satisfaction was being a founding member of the Blindness Hall of Fame in Louisville, KY. Michael’s publications reflect his focus on co-existing disability and addiction, several of which were co-authored with his wife Brenda A. Shearer, PhD. Michael’s honors and awards are too numerous to list. He was extremely humble, and few people in NC knew about his achievements, because he just never talked about them.

Upon retirement in early 2009, Michael and Brenda moved from Madison, Wisconsin to Hendersonville, NC. They fell in love with the mountains and waterfalls, and explored these hills and trails like curious kids. Because he was genuinely interested in the lives of those he met, Michael was loved by everyone around him. His social skills were second to none.

Michael spent his retirement years traveling. He would tell you he saw whales in Alaska, cruised through the Panama Canal, climbed to ancient ruins in Greece and Turkey, and enjoyed gelato in the shadow of the Trevi Fountain. By far, his biggest thrill was swimming with dolphins in Bermuda. Michael was a lifelong fan of Motown music, the sounds of which often reverberated throughout the house. He loved to read books and periodicals, and listen to NPR News.

We are thankful for the compassionate care Michael received from his Four Seasons Hospice home care team. In lieu of flowers, donations on Michael’s behalf may be made to the Four Seasons Foundation, 211 Main Street, Hendersonville 28792.

Confirmation of a celebration of his life, where friends and loved ones can gather and share memories of Michael, will be shared post-Covid.

Condolence cards may be sent to the family at  or PO Box 945, Hendersonville, NC 28793.