Michael Cerutti - a St. Louis principal, slow-pitch softball player, saxophonist, bass fisherman, husband, father, grandfather and genuinely good man - died peacefully from cancer on Oct. 31 at his home. He was 78. Mike was born in Houston, Texas, and grew up in the Clifton Heights neighborhood of St. Louis. He is one of four brothers. Larry was the eldest and made a career in the Navy. Mike, Pat and Tim grew up playing kick-the-can, stickball, and bottlecaps, exploring their neighborhood under the watchful eyes of their loving parents and extended family. He fell asleep most nights listening to Cardinals games on the radio and spent weekends fishing at his uncle’s farm in Catawissa. In the sixth grade, Mike studied a poster of musical instruments on the classroom wall before declaring he wanted saxophone lessons. He played through high school in the school band and later in a rock-n-roll band. Mike planned to become a machinist, but when the shop where he worked closed, he followed a friend to Harris-Stowe Teachers College. While there, he took a group of sixth graders to summer camp and realized he was a darn good teacher. Mike taught at Shenandoah Elementary School in St. Louis City. He continued his career as an educator in the Parkway School District, where he taught at Robin Hill and then served as the principal at River Bend, McKelvey and Wren Hollow Elementary schools. “I thought I could run a school that liked kids, that treated kids with respect. And so I decided to be a principal. It was that simple,” he said. The things he loved as a kid stayed with him, and Mike picked up his baseball bat again and spent more than 20 years playing in slow-pitch softball leagues in Forest Park. After he stopped playing because of his knees, he started pro-am bass fishing and got hooked (which is a pun Mike would approve.) Mike married Terry in 1967. They had two kids, Matt and Michelle. He spent hours at sporting events with Matt, and they frequently went on fishing and camping trips. As a parent himself, Matt now sees what a gift his dad’s presence and patience was growing up. Michelle didn’t realize it then either, but her dad’s constant encouragement gave her the confidence to be herself. He bought her art supplies, signed her up for art classes and camps, and always praised her efforts in all that she tried. Mike’s motto in education became his motto in life: “Minimize the criticize, and raise the praise.” After his divorce, a friend set him up on a date with Linda, a reading specialist in Parkway. On their fourth or fifth date, Mike and Linda went hiking at Trout Lodge. Mike said by the time the day was over, “I thought, ‘this is the one.’ And that was good. She has been the one.” They married in 1984 at the Japanese Garden at the Missouri Botanical Garden. Mike became step-father to Linda’s son, Ryan Cuba, to whom he showed the same love and support as he did his own children. Ryan is forever grateful that Mike came into their lives, and says that if it weren’t for Mike, he wouldn’t have a brother and sister. Ryan also cherishes the countless hours Mike spent helping him with home-improvement projects and teaching him these skills, which he now passes on to his own children. Mike could spend hours a day reading and was a faithful patron of public libraries. He crafted beautiful furniture that his family will treasure for generations. After retirement, he kept fishing and returned to his saxophone. He played with the After Hours Community Band and formed a saxophone quartet. He and Linda spent nearly every summer at Lake of the Ozarks, often with Michelle; Matt and his wife, Ann; Ryan, and his wife, Cindy. Mike became Grandpa to Ryan (Allison), Katherine, Elise, Jack, Ellen, Caroline and Drew, and later great-grandpa to William and Johnny. As a grandpa, he built custom American Doll furniture, spent years in the stands of games, the seats of plays and performances. Mike was reliably good-natured, had a joke for every occasion and a saying almost everyone remembers: “boog si efil.” He started saying it years ago after noticing how the motto of the clothing brand “Life is Good” looked in the mirror. Mike reminded everyone frequently that “boog si efil” - and for the people he loved, he made sure that was true. His family will love and cherish him always. A private service will be held for the family. A celebration of life will follow at a later time. The family is being served by Cremation Society of Missouri.