Michael (Mike) Dennis Slusher, 70, of Titusville, FL, passed away peacefully at home on April 17, 2020 after being diagnosed with multiple organ cancer early in 2020.
Those who knew Mike knew that music was both his passion and his life’s work. Mike began playing the trombone at age 10, taking lessons from Jahnie’s Music in Cocoa since he was too young for the Jr. High band program. He used to put on concerts in the back yard in those early years, inviting our neighbors to come hear him perform. He used his bonus points from Jahnie’s for learning his lessons to buy his little brother his first baseball glove. By seventh grade he was the only 7th grader in advanced band, and went on to Cocoa High to be the youngest member of the “Great Eight” trombone section during the 1964-65 school year. While still a teenager, he played professionally as the lead trombone player for the Gene Fernet Band, performing at many local venues.
After graduating from the new Merritt Island High School in 1967, Mike went on to Brevard Community College to continue his music studies. His final year there was capped by the spring concert where the band performed Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Concerto for Trombone and Military Band” with Mike as the featured trombone soloist.
Mike then transferred to North Texas State University in 1969, studying music and working himself up to the trombone section in the famed 1:00 O’clock Lab Band.
A long career as a professional musician followed, while he lived in Texas, Arkansas, Nevada, California and Washington and performed at venues all over the country. During this time he played trombone in the bands backing up many famous performers, including Patti Page, Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis, Jr., Frank Sinatra, and the final year of the Elvis Presley tour.
After all those years of traveling, Mike began to miss living in a place where most folks knew the Brevard County landmarks (like Merritt Island High School) with no explanation required. He moved back to Brevard County in the mid 1990s and branched out into musical instrument repair as a second career while performing as a musician occasionally around Central Florida. He retired in 2008 after a disabling stroke ended his music performing and repair careers.
Mike was preceded in death by his father, Vernon Slusher, his mother, Betty Eastmoore, and his sister-in-law, Jackie Slusher. He is survived by his brother, Mark Slusher, his nephew and niece, Randy and Katie Slusher.
The family would like to thank the Health First Hospice Team and Mike’s high school friend Dave Scarborough for their tireless attention to Mike’s needs during these final weeks. Mike’s family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be given to organizations of your choice supporting music programs in Brevard County.