Temple Update Exclusive: Remembering Michael Paytas

On Wednesday morning, Temple Update broke the news of a student passing that occurred just two days prior.

Wednesday afternoon, President Englert sent out an email to the Temple community confirming the death of Michael Paytas.

Michael Paytas was a 24-year-old Business and Management student, set to graduate in only 3 weeks.

In an exclusive interview with Temple Update, Michael’s mother, Melinda Lilley, spoke with us about the sudden, heartbreaking death of her son Michael.


Michael and his mother, Melinda Lilley.


“Michael, since the day he was born, has always had a massive heart,” she began. “He always had a huge amount of friends.”

“Michael was loyal, loving, and kindhearted, and would do anything for anybody.”




Along with loving his friends, Michael was also very close with his family.

Michael and his brother’s dog “Mercedez” that he loved


“He loved his family. Our favorite memories were probably down the shore. We vacationed in Ocean City, New Jersey. We would go there every year when he was younger. He loved the shore.”


Melinda and Michael shared a special love of one Philadelphia sports team.


“Michael and I LOVED the Eagles! Tried to watch every game together!”


Melinda also spoke Michael’s passion for music.

“He was so gifted. He picked up the guitar in two seconds. He also picked up the drums in two seconds. He was so talented. He did teach himself, he picked it up on his own. He was probably around 18-19 when he first started.”

“He loved rap [music] cause of his age. He liked Rock and Roll too though, he was very diversified. He was such a good boy. One of the last songs we listened to was ‘California Dreaming ‘by the The Mamas and Papas.’ I mean he liked all kind of genres. He was such a good boy.”

Melinda took a moment to compose herself.

A photo Melinda took of Michael driving her


“We would drive to and from Temple almost everyday. His sense of humor was profound, and his laughter always made the days so much easier!”

Melinda then continued on to explain the special connection Michael held with Temple.


“He always did well in school and he cared about his grades.”



Michael Paytas died with only 3 weeks left until graduation


“He was so looking forward to graduating. It was his proudest moment. My mother paid for his college at Temple, and she’s 89 years old. The only thing he wanted to happen was that if I have to go up to Lancaster to pick you up and bring you back here to see me graduate I will do it. That’s what kind of kid he was.”

“My dad, his grandfather, George Lilley, graduated from Temple. He passed away in 2007, but my dad was hysterical! He had the same sense of humor as Michael! Both graduating from Fox- another reason he (Michael) was so proud.”


Michael and his brother, David (29).


“After graduation, he wanted to start a breakfast/lunch business with his brother, David.”


After all his family has been through over the past week, Michael’s mother, Melinda, just wants him to be remembered for the loving person he was.

“Everybody that knew him was fortunate. He just had a heart of gold. He was so grateful for everything. He had such a big heart.”



Services for Michael will be held as follows:

December 9th at 11AM

Red Clay Creek Church

500 McKennans Church Rd

Wilmington, DE 19808



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