Michael Leisner died in his car while his kids played tennis
Pastor Denyes on Leisner: "He seemed to be a very happy man."
Michael Leisner likely suffered a heart attack in his car before he was found dead on Saturday, said pastor Dwight Denyes of Minneapolis' Emmanuel Christian Center. Leisner's funeral will take place at Emmanuel this week.
According to Denyes, Leisner brought two of his teenage children to a tennis court and was sitting in his car while they played. After about a half-hour on the courts, his children returned to the car to find their father unresponsive.
While Leisner wasn't a member of Emmanuel Christian Center, pastor Denyes said he, his wife, and their children -- one adult and three teenagers -- would occasionally attend services there.
"I didn't know Mike that well -- we're one of two churches that he and his family attended -- but on the limited occasions I saw Mike he seemed to be very much a devoted father to his four children, and very much devoted to his wife," Denyes said.
Denyes didn't realize that a recent video of Leisner lighting fire to a box of Cheerios outside General Mills' headquarters in protest of the company's support for same-sex marriage was an internet sensation "until the final week of his life."
"I didn't know that side of him," Denyes said. "I think we all, as human beings, we're not one-dimensional people, we're multifaceted. In my limited interactions with him he seemed to be a very nice person, [but] unfortunately the videos are how many will remember him."
Denyes, lead pastor at Emmanuel for six years, said Leisner's family wants Michael's funeral service to remain a private affair.
"I understand there's a human-interest side or a political side, but I'm a pastor dealing with a grieving family," he said. "He died unexpectedly. He loved his kids, his kids loved him, he loved his wife, she loved him. Those things are not unusual."
THE LEISNER FILES:
-- Man tries to light Cheerios on fire [VIDEO]
-- The General Mills Cheerios-burning protester is Michael Leisner, 65
-- Michael Leisner fired from job over General Mills protest
-- Michael Leisner under criminal investigation
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss City Pages' biggest stories.
- UnitedHealth is getting even richer on Obamacare
Sun., Sep. 20, 12:00pm
Sat., Sep. 26, 2:30pm
Sun., Sep. 27, 12:00pm
Sat., Oct. 3, 7:00pm
- The Top 10 T-shirts of the Minnesota State Fair
- Top 5 Hate Mails of the Week: With new & improved fecal insults!