Mike Decker Obituary (2022) – Joshua Tree, CA

Mike Decker Obituary (2022) – Joshua Tree, CA

4/26/1943 – 4/27/2022 A memorial service will be held at 11:00 AM, May 21, 2022 in the chapel at Edwards Mansion in Redlands, CA for Thomas Michael “Mike” Decker who died in Palm Springs, CA on April 27 one day after his 79th birthday, after two years of being gradually diminished by Alzheimer’s Disease. Born in San Bernardino, Mike grew up in Fontana, where he worked at his father’s gas station and boat sales and rentals, and later in the Kaiser Steel Mill. After graduating from Fontana High School in 1961, he took classes at Chaffey College and then lived in Mexico City while attending the Universidad de las Americas. He returned to the US and graduated from San Diego State University with a major in History. In San Diego he found work as a social worker assisting young offenders in Juvenile Hall. When he returned to San Bernardino he was hired into County Social Services. As part of a special program, he attended Fresno State University for two years to obtain a Master’s degree in Social Work. As a social worker, Mike’s cases involved children, people with disabilities, homeless people, the elderly, and very low-income people. He cared about them all. He was promoted to Supervisor, and after several years he became responsible for Child Protective Services, Adoptions, Foster Care and Juvenile Offenders. He was a member of the Fontana Rotary and many other organizations, and served on the boards of directors or advisory groups to many of them. Mike became a leader who had a crack for bringing people together despite opposing views. He was actively involved in creation of the County Behavioral Health Commission, the Children’s Network, the California State Foster Parent Association, a series of Juvenile Justice programs, the Senior Affairs Commission and others. He also sparked interest in establishing a School of Social Work at Cal State San Bernardino, which eventually became a reality, with Mike serving on its first Board of Directors. On behalf of the great diversity of people he represented, Mike became a very outspoken advocate, meeting individually or making group presentations to State Legislators on various issues over the years. In 1992, the County consolidated programs and services for older people, creating the Department of Aging and Adult Services, with Mike as Director. Among other achievements, his San Bernardino staff prepared the initial drafts of what became California’s current Elder Abuse laws. Mike provided inspiration, support and encouragement to many. He was a visionary whose staff helped bring those visions to life, and he gave credit where credit was due. He had a talent for mixing humor with business, and was frequently asked to serve as Master of Ceremony for large gatherings. After retirement from San Bernardino County, Mike moved to Joshua Tree, and worked on contract with the Riverside County Office on Aging. He also conducted workshops in other parts of the state, and served as an Expert Witness in elder abuse court cases in Marin and Los Angeles Counties. He was preceded in death by his daughter Danielle. He leaves his wife Jennifer Decker of Joshua Tree, his step-sister Kathy VanWormer of Pahrump, Nevada, his son Thomas Michael Decker, Jr. and daughter-in-law Joyce Decker of St. George, Utah, his step-sons Sean Cooper Davis of Santa Cruz and Jordan Cooper Davis and Kelley Davis of Sacramento, two step-daughters, Gwen Hill of Running Springs and Quenby Davis of Joshua Tree, his first cousin Barbara Bordenkircher of Phoenix, Arizona, as well as eight grandchildren, many nieces, Nephews and dear friends. Mike was one of a kind, and his human services legacy will live on.

Published by Daily Bulletin on May 13, 2022.

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