HUNTINGTON — The Huntington music community was left with a void when Michael Lyzenga, 65, of Milton, died suddenly over the weekend.
A father, husband and avid musician, Lyzenga died Sunday at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Huntington after collapsing during a worship band rehearsal at his home church, New Heights, earlier that morning. He was the husband of Karen Lyzenga.
“In the regional musical community, Mike’s passing ripples out to nearly everyone. In my 21 years here in [Huntington], it’s a short list of folks who have made such a positive impact on the Tri-State music scene as Mike,” bandmate and friend Dave Lavender said.
Lyzenga played in a handful of local bands in his lifetime, including Big Rock and the Candyass Mountain Boys for the past five years. He was a heavy hand in the local music scene as a performer, singer-songwriter and promoter. His direct involvement in the Huntington Blues Society was a major contributing factor in the growth of new artists and various music festivals in the area, such as the Diamond Teeth Mary Blues Festival.
“Mike was every artist’s best friend and most enthusiastic supporter. He worked tirelessly with me on every opportunity to lift up our regional Blues community. His genuine infectious, positive energy was a blessing. We will strive to carry on his legacy of peace, love and music,” Huntington Blues Society president Karen Combs said.
In addition to the Huntington music scene, Lyzenga also faithfully served his church with his musical talent, among other gifts.
“Without hesitation, I can attest to Mike being one of the most faithful servants in our church. Most Sundays, he played guitar in our band. He loved being part of New Heights Collective and loved helping other musicians,” lead pastor Will Basham said. “He was commonly seen on stage on Sundays and if more than one went by without him, people asked where he was.”
He was baptized and joined the church in 2017. Basham said even more than his musical ability, his service to the church went far beyond those six strings, lending a hand in other ways like odd jobs and handyman tasks, writing letters to members of the church who were hurting and leading an in-home bible study group.
“He used his precious time here the way we all should: to joyously spread love and music in a world that needs more of it by the minute,” Lavender said.
Basham gave similar remarks.
“Somehow I know that if he got to choose, he would’ve wanted to leave this world exactly how he did: with a guitar on his shoulders, at the front of a sanctuary, ready to lead people in worship. His last breaths were taken doing what he loved,” Basham said, “praising God and serving people.”