Michael lived much of his life on Orcas Island, arriving at the age of three when his parents Dean and Helen moved to Orcas after the war. Michael was born Christmas Day 1943 in Indio California, where Dean was undergoing Army training for desert warfare. Shortly after, Dean was sent overseas to England, and Helen had to deal alone with a sickly baby, diagnosed with Down Syndrome.
Michael thrived on the farm at Obstruction Pass, but in 1953 the family moved to Burlington, in part for him to attend a “handicapped school” that Dean and Helen helped form. Dean, Helen and Michael moved back to Orcas in 1962. During Michael’s adulthood he worked at some of the Island’s resorts, and as a janitor at Templin’s Market. He was active in the Episcopal Church, serving as an altar boy for several years. Michael was a proud member of the Orcas Whales baseball team, and went off to Special Olympics camps many summers, garnering a fistful of medals that he loved to show off.
In his later life, he lived independently under the supervision of Service Alternatives in Mt. Vernon and then Everett. For the past three years, he lived at Sequim Health and Rehab, where he could share activities with his brother Bill until the COVID lockdown limited most contacts. Unfortunately, his mental and physical abilities deteriorated during this period, contributing to his death Aug. 27.
Michael will be remembered by all as a kind, friendly and loving soul, very well-spoken, with a wonderful sense of humor. He never forgot his Orcas Island home, which he talked about often. People with Down Syndrome were never expected to live very long, but Michael fooled everyone by living a happy and productive life to the age of 77. He will be greatly missed.