He had two children to raise, a soaring career to steer, a sweetheart to spend a long life with and an unborn child on the way.

The shock of Michael R. Fuller's death hit his Salt Lake friends especially hard because he lived so richly.Friends described Fuller, 30, as a patient, gentle man who had a knack for befriending everyone and adored his wife, Karen, a daughter, 6, and son, 1.

"He would take whatever job he could get to provide for his family," said friend Scott Sine.

After working his way up to customer service supervisor in the Salt Lake office, Fuller took a job as the SkyWest station manager in Jackson Hole, Wyo. The pay was better; he could do more for Karen and the children that way.

But Fuller couldn't find a place to live in Jackson. So for the first two months on the job, he lived in a tent and cooked his meals over a Coleman stove, Sine said.

The odd living arrangement didn't trouble him if it meant providing more for Karen and the children, Sine said.

"He was just a good person. He worked hard at being a dad and a husband," said Fuller's former church leader, Kent K. Nelson. "It was fun to watch how he took care of his kids. He was always helping Karen with them. He was particularly good with his little girl."

"He always talked about his little girl," Sine said. "How much he loved her. How cute she was and the funny things she would do."

Fuller's determination to provide for his family made his death doubly tragic. Former colleague John Papapavlos met Fuller's parents at the Salt Lake International Airport Saturday afternoon just before they flew to Palmdale to join their daughter-in-law. They told him Karen was pregnant.

The wife he "trusted completely," the schoolteacher he was "really proud of," lost the man she loved and needed.

All those interviewed by the Deseret News - former colleagues, a neighbor, a church leader - talked about Fuller's friendliness and gentleness.

"Everybody enjoyed Mike. He was really good with people. They loved working for him," said Papapavlos. Fuller trained Papapavlos as his replacement when he left the Salt Lake office. "He was a very patient man. He let everyone work at the job they were best at. That's why things ran smoothly for Mike and he went as far in the company as he did. Everyone loved to work for him."

"He was too nice to ever let you know he was mad at you. He never wanted confrontations with people," Sine said. "He was sweet and extremely humble."

When Fuller's younger sister struggled through a divorce, Fuller insisted she and her baby move in with him and his family. While she was there, he worried that he was too protective of her, Sine said. When she got on her feet, "he was so proud of her.

"Put it this way, if there were a lot more Mikes on the face of the earth, it would be a heck of a lot better place," Sine said.