Michele Anne Pilger passed away on March 3, 2022, at the age of 66 in Tampa, Florida. She was diagnosed with corticobasal degeneration (“CBD”) in 2013 and proved her strength throughout the progression of the disease. We are heartbroken to have lost her so soon, but we know she is watching over us, just as she always has.
Michele was born September 13, 1955, in Mt. Clemens, Michigan, to Donald and Doris Sumner. She was the oldest of three children and always made her family proud by how driven but caring she was. She graduated at the top of her class from Manatee High School, and graduated magna cum laude from the University of South Florida in 1976, with her bachelor’s degree in accounting. It was at USF that she met her husband, Mark, who knew instantly how special she was. They got married in her parents’ backyard with their closest family and friends on April 9, 1977. They would have celebrated 45 years of marriage next month.
Michele started her career in July 1976 as a CPA in Carter, Belcourt & Atkinson, P.A., CPA’s in Lakeland, Florida, and transitioned to Price Waterhouse in Tampa, FL from 1980 to 1985. She then served as Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer for Tampa Tank, Inc., and Florida Structural Steel from 1985 to 2006, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer at Mathews Construction from 2006 to 2010, and Special Projects Controller for Marketing Solution Publications from 2010 to 2013, until she was diagnosed with CBD. Early in her career and while pregnant with their first child, Michele and Mark bought their own business, SIP Corporation, designing and manufacturing machines that sharpen golf course mower blades. They have operated and grown the business together since 1988 and it is still going strong today. Through all of this, Michele served as a member of the Board of Directors and Treasurer of Sunbelt Federal Credit Union, member of the Small Business Council of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Board of Directors and Treasurer of the Mental Health Association of Hillsborough County, and Secretary for Boy Scout Troop 4. She was modest about it, but also loved to serve others – volunteering with The Spring, Metropolitan Ministries, and Rise Against Hunger, and donating blood religiously (over 5 gallons).
But what Michele was most proud of was being a mom to her daughter, Anne, and son, Karl. Despite a demanding career and running the business with Mark, her children were always her priority. She led them by example, always showing them that family and helping others are what matter most. Regardless of how busy she was, she never missed her kids’ ball games, boy scout meetings, orchestra concerts, or a chance to show them how much she loved them. Michele taught her family how to be kind, humble, grateful, and hardworking. These words could never capture how amazing she was.
Michele is survived by her husband, Mark Pilger, son, Karl Pilger, daughter and son-in-law, Anne and Michael Rollins, sister, Lisa Terror, nieces, nephews, and friends. We will miss her terribly.
We will be celebrating her life and faith with a traditional service that begins at 2PM on Wednesday, March 23, 2022, at Palma Ceia United Methodist Church, 3723 W Bay to Bay Blvd, Tampa, FL 33629. The service will be followed by a gathering in the Fellowship Hall.
In lieu of sending flowers, we know Michele would appreciate a donation in her name to the following:
Rise Against Hunger: Their mission is to grow a global movement to end hunger by empowering communities, nourishing lives, and responding to emergencies. Michele really enjoyed packaging meals with this organization at our church.
PAN Foundation: Their mission is to help underinsured people with life-threatening, chronic, and rare diseases receive the medications and treatments they need by assisting with their out-of-pocket costs and advocating for improved access and affordability. The foundation helped Michele access the medications she needed to offset the symptoms of CBD.