Michael Scott Scudder, Fitness Industry Consultant, Dies

Michael Scott Scudder, who had been a part of the health club industry for 35 years, died on June 30.

Update: This story was updated on July 3 with information on a burial service and more details on a preliminary cause of death.

Michael Scott Scudder, founder and CEO of MSS Network, Taos, New Mexico, died on June 30. He was 75 years old.

Scudder had undergone hip surgery on June 7. His wife, Phyllis Landis, shared with Club Industry that doctors think he may have passed away from a pulmonary embolism, but an autopsy was being done for confirmation.

Landis shared that her husband died "at our home in my arms" around 10:30 a.m. Friday.

A burial service is planned for July 4 at a small, Jewish and non-sectarian cemetery affiliated with the Taos Jewish Center, Landis wrote.

"I am considering planning a Memorial Service on our property in Taos at a later date to allow people to participate," she wrote. 

Scudder had owned and managed fitness facilities from 1976 to 1997, according to his LinkedIn profile. He had operated MSSNetwork since 1991, although it originally was called Fitness Focus and then was called Fitness Business Council/Wellness Business Council. MSSNetwork is a network of more than 15,000 independent commercial clubs and not-for-profit fitness facilities for which Scudder provided consulting services and shared his advice, thoughts and research through his e-newsletter, MSS Network News.

His last e-newsletter went out on June 26. In that e-newsletter, he wrote the following:

"So many of you have emailed or texted me...wanting to know how I'm doing following my June 7 surgery to re-construct my entire right hip and install all 'new parts.'
"First off - thank you for your concern and your outpouring of prayers and well-wishes. It has truly humbled me that I have so many friends 'out there.'
"I must admit that I went in thinking relative 'piece of cake' - just like the various other body repairs I've had over the years. Uh-uh!
"Rehab, physical therapy, and daily exercises to get everything working again is a slow, sometimes-quite-painful, and tiring process...but progress it is! And each day there's a reminder of how impatient yours truly can be!
"Again...my thanks to you. On some of the early 'real tough days' your words carried me through."

Scudder had been writing a book about the history and the future of the fitness industry with Bryan O'Rourke, founder and CEO of Integerus Advisors LLC and president of the Fitness Industry Technology Council.

“Michael was sincere, fresh thinking and controversial in some of his views, but he had a great understanding of key trends in health clubs, fitness and wellness," O'Rourke shared in an email with Club Industry. "He helped many people and was a great inspiration and friend to me and my partner Robert Dyer among many others. We are devastated by his passing. He will be missed.”

O'Rourke shared more about Scudder in this LinkedIn post.

Scudder had been a speaker at the Club Industry Show for almost 30 years. He was scheduled to present two sessions at this year's show in October, and he shared with Club Industry's conference program staff that he looked forward to presenting for what he said might be his last time at the show.

Scudder was born and raised in Oneonta, New York, and was of Irish and Native American heritage, according to a profile that Club Insider did of him in 2004. During high school, he lettered in basketball, baseball, volleyball, cross country and golf, but during his senior year, he was injured in a car accident and was paralyzed from ruptured L4 and L5 discs that cut into his spinal column. Most doctors told him he would not walk again, but one doctor offered him hope with laminectomy surgery, which restored his ability to walk. He did his physical therapy at a local YMCA, creating his own rehab plan using a book by Dr. Hans Krauss "Healthy Back" as his guideline. He went on to play basketball and golf in college and then to play golf, to downhill ski and Nordic ski professionally.  

If Landis plans a memorial service, Club Industry will share details. She asked that anyone who wants to relay their condolences do so by emailing Club Industry or Norm Cates, publisher of Club Insider. Feel free to send emails to [email protected], and those messages will be forwarded to Landis.

Editors' Note: The story has been updated to reflect that Michael Scott Scudder's death occurred on June 30 not July 2 as originally noted in the article. We apologize for the error. 

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