Havre Daily News
A community is banding together to help a native Havreite who is battling an illness.
Francis "Butch" Mayer recently retired from the Whitewater school system after teaching and coaching for 30 years. He has been diagnosed with autoimmune hepatitis and is in need of a liver transplant. Malta radio station KMMR-FM 100.1 is holding a radiothon for Mayer on Friday from 6 to 10 a.m.
Mayer has spent his first year of retirement in and out of the hospital. He said today he found out from Veterans Affairs doctors in Salt Lake City two years ago that he had the disease, which causes inflammation and cirrhosis of the liver.
Mayer said a Great Falls doctor and VA doctors have told him he needs a new liver. The Great Falls doctor has contacted a transplant team in Seattle and the VA is reviewing his medical records to determine if he qualifies for a priority list.
Mayer said he has restricted himself to a special diet because his liver can no longer process proteins.
He said that he appreciates any support the community can give. He knows that if he goes to Seattle for a transplant, he will have to stay for six to nine months.
"Anybody who makes any kind of a contribution at all, I can't thank them enough," Mayer said.
Whitewater Public Schools Superintendent Darin Cummings said Mayer spent 30 years with the district, teaching biology, world history, physical education and other subjects. He coached every varsity sport at the school and served as its athletic director for 17 years. Whitewater was his first and only teaching job, Cummings said, and Mayer earned the admiration of his students and the community.
"He's just an exceptional guy," Cummings said. "He put his whole life into education and into helping other people's kids. I encourage everybody to put forth an effort to help him out. They're helping a great man. It's a needed thing. Financially, the burden of something like this gets to be very difficult."
Cummings added that Whitewater students raised $600 to help a teacher they love.
"He was one of their favorite teachers, although very challenging," he said. "He demanded respect and gave them respect."
Mayer said he is "very appreciative" of the students' help.
After retirement, Mayer moved back to his hometown of Havre.
KMMR announcer Leila Olsen said the station is holding the fund-raiser because Mayer is a member of the community in need.
"We like to help out the community any way we can," she said. "The community supports us so we try to support them."
Listeners can contact the station Friday morning to donate to the cause by dialing 654-2472, 654-2634, 654-2506, or 654-5572. Donations for the Francis Mayer Medical Fund can also be sent to First Security Bank, P.O. Box 730, Malta MT 59538 or First State Bank, P.O. Box 910, Malta MT 59538.