Sad Sad day for FIRST.....RIP Mike Wade

Rarely have I met someone that was more concerned with the welfare of others, more willing to tackle any problem, and more graceful under pressure than Mike. The contributions that he made to NASA and to FIRST are too numerous to list. Yet he was perpetually unassuming, preferring to remain out of the limelight. Given the choice, he would much rather be in the machine shop in the back room than out in front with the crowds. It was behind the scenes that he thought he made his greatest contribution, and where he thoroughly enjoyed working with every team that he could. He will be missed more than any of us can imagine.

Plans are being made by Mike’s family, and will be detailed in the local papers on Tuesday. Keep an eye on the Baltimore Sun for information regarding the services being planned for Thursday and Friday.


I am shocked as well to hear this news of Mike Wade’s passing, he was always so friendly, completely dedicated to making the FIRST off season events run smoothly (as well as countless other FIRST related tasks). He gave me a preview tour of his machine shop trailer last January at Goddard Space Flight Center, he was certainly prepared to work where ever he went. On behalf of Team 122 and myself, I would like to send deeply felt condolences to Mikes family and friends.

Dave Fahringer
Team 122

On behalf of the Team 102 - this is a huge loss. Even though I did not have the privledge of meeting Mike Wade in person, it is still a great loss to the whole FIRST community :frowning: I’m sure everyone will take away at least one thing that Mike Wade has taught them over the years.

May Mike Wade rest in peace

I first met Mike when I sought him out to thank him for providing his playing field at an event long ago (Maryland State Fair, I believe) and I met this great, humble, constantly smiling man. He seemed flustered at being thanked, as though he didn’t think thanks was needed for doing something he loved so much.

He will be greatly missed.


Today when I heard this news I was extremely shocked and I am still very upset over this but the best way for me to describe Mike to people who don’t know him would be through my experience.

In fall of 2001 as a senior in High school I started team 768. When the team founded we had no funds or ideas of what we were getting ourselves into, but we were going to try anyway. As the deadline for payment approached we had no way to fund the team, enter Mike Wade. Mike made a decision to help us out, a decision which has changed my life.

Without the faith of a stranger at the time, myself and team 768 would have never joined FIRST. It is through FIRST that I met some fellow college students which convinced me to attend RIT for engineering. That following summer at the Maryland state fair I really got a chance to meet Mike and learn what FIRST was all about, this made me want to continue on as a team mentor and volenteer. Also through FIRST I have gotten internships, made life long friends, and found an outlet which is both challenging and meaningful. Looking back I can not even fathom where I would be today; in school, life, friends, etc; If Mike Wade had not taken a chance on a cocky High school senior whom he had never met.

Mike I just wish I could tell you how much you have changed my life, and know that you will be missed and though about in my mind forever.

Greg Needel

As a guest team announcer at Brunswick Eruption last year, I had an opportunity to talk with Mike a lot about his field, and he was very eager to teach about how he used the different technologies he utilized (between the labview software and the radio setup) and how the field worked. It was that sort of enthusiasm that made Mike Wade a model figure of the FIRST community.

At a couple of New Jersey Regional events, I stopped back to the machine shop in the pit just to say hello. He was a very giving individual, always eager to help and share with others. His professionalism and care surpassed mostly everyone I know.

When I got the phone call today, I was quite taken aback, and it took me a few minutes to even process how much of FIRST has been impacted by Mike Wade’s heart, hands, and mind. I’m sure that for each example that came into my mind, there were five or six that I was never aware of.

Not only will Mike Wade be missed for his contributions to FIRST, but for the tremendous person that he was.

On Behalf of Team 75, we’d like to extend our prayers and thoughts to Mr.Wade’s family, He was one of the most remarkable people Ive ever met, and was a huge asset to the FIRST community, May He Rest In Peace…

Mike, you will certainly be missed.
This is such a loss to the FIRST community, especially after all the wonderful thing Mike did for everyone.

I never met the man, yet from all I have read, I would say that he was a great person. You really have to be a wonderful person to be missed by those who never met you. I’m sorry for all of you who knew him better then I for your loss.

I met Mike on several occasions as he always made sure we had a field for Brunswick Eruption. His tireless dedication, enthusiasm, and love of FIRST was infectious. I still remember being amazed after having gone out to dinner with him after BE. What an experience.

He will truly be missed. Like Dave said, Mike found his home making sure things worked behind the scenes, away from the limelight, but that in itself makes him an unsung hero in the purest sense.

i am at a lost for words right now. such a great man has been taken away from us the FIRST community and to everyone.

I only had the honor of meeting Mr. Wade once but i will cheerish that day even more now. My wishes and prays will be sent to the Wade family and i hope that there will be some type of memorial set up at the east coast off seasons this next weekend to remember this great man.

I don’t post a terrible lot, but this is a huge loss and he will be missed greatly. I worked with Mike at several off-seaons and he really was a great person and a huge help to anyone around. I hope this does not cause any problems for off-season events, because that is that last thing Mike would want. He was a truely great person to be around.

How do you describe what Mike did for FIRST and do him justice?

You simply cant.

Mike was a perennial friend and great supporter of my team ever since we met years ago. He thought nothing of giving up most of his weekends and energies to running all over the Northeast with the NASA field and his mobile machine shop. And wherever he went he rallied the kids into a working team that learned both how the field worked and how to work together. He gave and gave without fanfare or glamour. Many of the kids at competitions never met Mike, but he was always there behind the scenes making sure that they could play. We are proud that Mike regularly honored us by wearing one of our Hawaiian shirts wherever he went.

At BE we made a tiki trophy in his name and he often picked the “unique” but overlooked robot to award it to. After the event we would all go out for dinner and Mike would challenge the kids with math puzzles and swap stories with us all. And he had some stories…

Mike leaves a vacuum in the FIRST world that will be impossible to fill. I hope his memory inspires the rest of us to step up and contribute more to further the ideals that Mike exemplified.

We’ll miss him sorely. Our condolences to his family.

Wayne C. and team 25

Kim Keller and Mike Wade at the control station.jpg

Kim Keller and Mike Wade at the control station.jpg

We are at a total loss to hear of Mike’s passing…as Dave, Greg, and so many others have already said, Mike was an unbelievably intelligent, kind, thoughtful, caring, talented, and unassuming man, he was the embodiment of what FIRST is all about. We are grateful that he took a chance on our son and his school in originally funding and guiding 768 and we know he was proud of the team because he told them so - through his actions much more than words, but the kids all understood and responded in kind. In return, the team plans to continue to honor his memory by doing the things that would make Mike proud.

As a mentor and guide, he changed our family forever. Fred and I were fortunate enough to spend many pleasant hours at various events just talking to Mike about FIRST, mutual goals and dreams, and we cherish every moment we spent with him. His enthusiasm was contagious and we owe him thanks for influencing our strong commitment to FIRST and the wonderful community we have joined. We cannot imagine what the future of FIRST here in the area will be like without Mike’s smiling face, the wonderful fields he has built, his machine shop expertise, his unique insights, and his presence everywhere!

The Needel family and Team 768 extend our sincere condolences and heartfelt wishes to Mike’s wife, children and grandchildren and we pray that your memories and thoughts of this amazing and wonderful man will carry you through this difficult time. May his memory be a blessing…


I have had the pleasure to have known Mike through many of my years of FIRST. I will miss joking with him, and his compassion for students and FIRST.

omg…I met Mike at the 225 event in 2004. Never EVER have I met a man so willing to put up his time and his resources to better the lives of young people… He will truely be missed.

May you rest in peace Mike.

Wow. When I can get goosebumps reading about all of the wonderful things a person I’ve never met has done, I’m sure he must have been an amazing man.

On behalf of team 226, I’d like to extend my condolences to Mr.Wade’s family and friends.

Thanks for everything you’ve done for FIRST Mr.Wade.


I did not know Mike, but from the words and comments above he sounds like an awesome person who has made a positive impact on many, many lives.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends during this very challenging time.

I’m in shock. Mike was a fantastic member of the FIRST family, and will be greatly missed. My thoughts are with his family.

The picture is from after the Philadelphia Regional in 2003, where Mike was hanging out in the lobby of the Sheraton with team 422 (my home team, who I had mentored that year).



On behalf of team 1923 and my family, I’d like to extend my condolences to Mike Wade’s friends and family. He was an amazing contributor to the FIRST community, and he will be missed.