Michael David Grieve, a family man who was able to become a grandfather after getting a heart transplant 18 years ago, died Friday of cancer, his family said. He was 69.
Born in 1945 in Brigham City, Utah, Mr. Grieve grew up in East Sacramento playing street baseball and fishing. He graduated from Sacramento High School in 1963, attended Sacramento City College and served two years in the Army in Germany.
He married Jeanne Scharosch, had two daughters and enjoyed family vacations. A happy-go-lucky guy who enjoyed telling jokes and playing pranks, he was a top sales representative for Southern Wine & Spirits, a distributor of alcoholic beverages.
By age 50, he was dying. Diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a weakening of the heart muscle, he spent several years on medication as his health deteriorated before his name was placed on a transplant waiting list. In March 1996, he received a donated heart at Sutter Memorial Hospital.
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“He always had a great appreciation for life and was probably one of the most optimistic persons I knew,” his brother Curt said. “Mike was always very optimistic that everything was going to be totally fine.”
Leaving nothing to chance, Mr. Grieve followed his doctors’ orders religiously, his family said. He took walks for exercise and eased his way back to work within 15 months. He bought a special watch with an alarm that went off three times a day – including the middle of the night – to take medication, his family said.
Meanwhile, he promoted public awareness of organ transplants as a “much-beloved volunteer” for Sierra Donor Services, organization spokeswoman Tracy Bryan said. He spoke at community health fairs about the need for organ, eye and tissue donors and encouraged sign-ups for the statewide donation registry through the California Department of Motor Vehicles or online at www.donatelifecalifornia.org.
“He spoke once at a school, but it was just too emotional for him,” his wife said.
Mr. Grieve was a caring, sensitive man who thanked his donor’s family – whom he never knew – on every anniversary of his transplant, his wife said. He treasured time spent with his own family, including trips to Lake Tahoe and Southern California beaches. He retired after 35 years at Southern Wine & Spirits in 2008.
“Mike took nothing for granted,” his brother said.
“He was really thankful for all the rest of the years that he had. It allowed him to see his daughters graduate, get married and have grandchildren. He was so attentive and so proud of his daughters, and he loved watching his grandkids’ baseball games. He got 18 extra years, and he lived life to the fullest.”
In addition to his wife and brother Curt, Mr. Grieve is survived by his daughters, Melissa Hansen and Natalie Bee; a brother, Kelly; and four grandchildren.
A visitation is scheduled from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, and a Rosary is planned for 7 p.m. the same day at George L. Klumpp Chapel of Flowers, 2691 Riverside Blvd., Sacramento. A funeral Mass is set for 10 a.m. Thursday at Holy Spirit Church, 3159 Land Park Drive, Sacramento.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the American Heart Association.