David Paytas said his son, Michael Paytas, loved to cook. He was always in the kitchen experimenting with new recipes. Michael and David Paytas often cooked together, making all their dishes from scratch.
Senior marketing major Michael Paytas wanted to open a breakfast and lunch restaurant with his father after he graduated from Temple.
If he wasn’t in the kitchen, he was playing guitar and having “jam sessions” with his friends, his father said. Michael Paytas could easily learn to play any song on the guitar after one listen.
“He just had that ear,” his father said. “He amazed me.”
Michael Paytas, 24, died from accidental overdose last week, the Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office reported.
Temple Police was alerted at 11:40 a.m. on Nov. 27 of a student found unresponsive in a third-floor bathroom in Paley Library. Michael Paytas was found unconscious, and police officers began performing CPR. He was then rushed to Hahnemann University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, university spokesman Brandon Lausch wrote in an email.
The official from the Medical Examiner’s Office did not disclose what drugs were found in Michael Paytas’ system.
Michael Paytas, who is from Holmes, Pennsylvania, transferred to Temple in 2014 from Delaware County Community College. He attended Ridley High School in Folsom, Pennsylvania.
Michael Paytas struggled with dyslexia from a young age. David Paytas remembers his son being frustrated with homework when he was younger, but he received help as a child and worked hard. He went on to make the dean’s list at his community college.
David Paytas remembers the “huge” milestones in Michael Paytas’s life — his senior prom and high school and community college graduations.
“I lost my best friend, roommate and son all at once,” David Paytas said. “He had such a bubbly personality. He had such a heart for everyone.”
“The loss of a student affects the entire Temple University community,” wrote Moshe Porat, the dean of the Fox School of Business, in a statement to The Temple News. “This is an extraordinarily difficult time for Michael’s family and friends. We share their sadness, and extend our thoughts and prayers to them at this time.”
President Richard Englert informed students of Michael Paytas’ death with an email statement on Wednesday, two days after he died.
“We extend our thoughts and prayers to Michael Paytas’s family, friends, classmates and faculty,” the email read.
Michael Paytas’ parents will accept a posthumous degree on his behalf from the Fox School of Business.
Tre Avila, 24, first met Michael Paytas in fifth grade when he moved to Ridley Park, Pennsylvania.
“And he was my best friend ever since,” Avila said. “I’m so glad I had the time I had with him, and I’ll never forget him.”
Avila is in the nursing school at Delaware County Community College, but often visited Michael Paytas at his off-campus apartment near Main Campus. Shortly after, Michael Paytas decided to live at home with his father in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania.
Listening to music with Michael Paytas is a memory that stands out in Avila’s mind. Avila mainly listened to Paytas play the guitar and often invited their friends over to listen to him and others play.
He loved every genre of music, Avila said. He would listen to anything from rappers like Future and Young Thug to Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana.
He loved everything and everyone in his life, Avila said. When Avila’s grandmother died, he turned to Michael Paytas for support.
“He was the best help you could ever have,” he said. “He kept me sane.”
Avila said they could make any activity fun — whether it was taking long car rides and singing to music or watching the show “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” together. But Michael Paytas was always focused on his course work and grades.
Avila remembered saying “Let’s go. You gotta get out of here,” to Michael Paytas when he would be studying and doing homework for hours.
“He didn’t half-ass anything,” Avila added. “He gave 100 percent to everything in life.”
“He was so looking forward to graduating,” David Paytas said. “If there is a possibility he’s looking down, he’ll be so happy.”
Temple Student Government posted a statement on Twitter on Sunday. Friends said Michael Paytas “loved his family” and always helped his friends, the statement read. TSG referred students to Tuttleman Counseling Services if they are struggling.
“This has been a difficult semester, Owls” the statement read. “We have endured multiple tragedies in just one semester. We will continue to push unity and peace through these times, because pain is always easier to deal with when you have people surrounding and encouraging you.”
Michael Paytas is the fourth of five students to die suddenly this semester. James Orlando, a junior Fox School of Business student, died of an overdose in his off-campus apartment on Saturday, the Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office ruled on Monday.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include an interview with Tre Avila on Dec. 5.