Memories of Mike Ingersoll remain strong, even 50 years after his death.
Retired Reed High School Principal Tim Griffin fondly recalls his friend’s sense of humor and penchant for pranks. Ingersoll made a cast to put on his leg and would walk with a pair of crutches to avoid participating in mandatory ROTC drills at the University of Nevada, Reno.
“He had that kind of sense of humor,” said Griffin, a longtime Sparks resident who also coached basketball during his education career. “He just had a good time with everyone.”
On Dec. 18, members and alumni of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity will hold a memorial service at the ATO fraternity house to mark the 50th anniversary of Ingersoll’s death. UNR will also remember Ingersoll during half-time at the men’s basketball game on Friday. Ingersoll and Griffin were ATO fraternity brothers.
“It’s a real tribute to a real fine person,” Griffin said. “It’s a good time to get together and reflect on really what was really important — and it’s friendship and those kind of things.”
Ingersoll died on Dec. 18, 1965, after his parachute failed to properly deploy while sky diving in Carson City. He was 21 and student body president at the university at the time.
“Like so many tragedies, when young people are taken early in life who have great potential, it’s a tragedy,” said Keith Lee, another longtime friend of Ingersoll and an ATO alumnus. “It’s a life that was never fulfilled.”
Ingersoll was a life-long resident of Carson City, where he attended high school with Griffin and Lee. At the time of his death, Ingersoll was a senior at UNR.
“It froze time,” Griffin said. “Most people can remember where they were when that happened. He had a tremendous effect on the campus, as well as the city of Carson, and the fraternity and everything else.”
One of Ingersoll’s well-known traits was a strong sense of determination in everything he decided to undertake.
“One of his favorite sayings was, ‘A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do,’” Lee said. “He was one of those guys that when he made up his mind he was going to do something, he was not going to be persuaded from doing it.”
This determination and leadership also helped Ingersoll make significant impacts with philanthropic activities. He organized a blood drive on the university campus for soldiers who served in Vietnam, collecting about 400 pints. He also served as the chair for the John F. Kennedy Book Drive that raised more than $100,000.
“He was a true person that you knew was going to go far,” Griffin said. “He just had a good way about him. He was always nice to everybody, laughed with everybody.”
To those who knew him, Ingersoll’s tragic death is a testament of a life taken too early and a devastating loss of someone who had a bright future ahead of him.
“Mike Ingersoll was right where he was going to step off the pedestal and really go,” Griffin said. “So he never really got to find out what the next step was going to be for him. And that’s kind of what’s really sad. He was such a fine person and yet, he wasn’t able to make that next step and everyone knows that.”
Ingersoll will continue to be remembered for many things: student body president, fellow ATO member, a great friend and leader, and someone with great potential.
Those who knew him will forever remember him and miss him because of who he was, Lee said.