Michael PonTell, a bright and ambitious young writer, passed away on May 12, 2015. I'd enjoyed a wonderful conversation with Michael earlier this year about writing and the state of the publishing industry, which I shared on Episode 71 of The Martin Lastrapes Show Podcast Hour.
I met Michael PonTell in March of this year when he came over to my apartment to record a podcast and I liked him right away. Before we met, I'd received an email from my friend S. Kay Murphy on February 6. In part, here’s what it said:
"I want to introduce you to a young man who may be Martin Lastrapes in another life, another dimension. He's trying to do a good thing, and, if you agree with my assessment, I want you to help him do it by getting him on the podcast if you can. His name is Michael PonTell. I've told him all about you, and he was suitably impressed. (See? He's smart.) I told him he could expect to hear from you within a few days, as you generally do what I ask you to—because you trust my judgment. Don't make a liar out of me! Email him and introduce yourself, then let him explain what he's up to."
As I’ve talked about many times before, S. Kay Murphy is something of a guardian angel in my life, so if she asks me for a favor, then I won’t hesitate to do it. So, I emailed Michael just as soon as I finished reading Kay’s message.
Michael wrote me back the following day and we had a lively back and forth conversation via email, in which he told me about Onlinbrary, which is a website designed to help aspiring authors get their work published. We eventually scheduled a podcast conversation for March 6, 2015.
Michael was very sweet and kind, with a fierce intelligence and intellect brewing just beneath the surface. We talked for over an hour and by the time we were done I knew I’d met somebody extraordinary. The sort of person who was destined to change to world.
On May 15, I received an email from Michael’s father, letting me know that he’d passed away.
He was 23 years old.
Sometimes life just doesn’t make sense. 23 years just isn’t fair. I can only imagine how much better the world would’ve been with 60 or 70 more years of that man in it. But, then again, Michael PonTell did more with his 23 years than most of us do in a lifetime.
So, well done, Michael.
Well done for a life well lived.
In lieu of flowers, Michael’s family requests donations be sent to Achieve Goals, which is an educational 501c-3 non-profit organization affiliated with Onlinbrary. The address is 11625 Mount Hood Court, Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91737. Please include “Michael PonTell” in the memo line. The money will be used to support young writers, coordinate future contests, and provide scholarships.