Michael Sky passed away at 6:08 pm on Monday, May 23, 2011, knowing that he was held by the people of his small green island and beyond, supported lovingly in his journey.
Michael was born on July 28, 1951 and raised in Collingswood, N.J. He graduated from Stockton State College with a degree in philosophy and a strong interest in China and Asian studies. His path led him briefly to Seattle, Wash. and then on to Boston, Mass. where he became part of the staff of Erewhon Natural Foods and embarked upon his life-long exploration of the body, the breath and the spirit. Surrounded by a circle of friends on this journey, Michael became a rebirther and a polarity therapist and eventually developed his own system of breathwork and bodywork. He met his life partner, Penny Sharp, in 1978, and they were married in October of 1984. Together they developed workshops and trainings and taught across the U. S. and Japan until the middle 1990’s.
Penny and Michael moved to Orcas Island in January of 1988 and with Peter Fisher founded OPAL Community Land Trust. Michael served on the OPAL board for 10 years. Michael also sat on the Board of the Healing Arts Center, and served as its president for a number of years. Later he devoted time to mentoring high school students who wanted to develop Web sites. He passed on his fascination and enthusiasm for all things computer. In addition, for the past six years Michael and Penny have offered their leadership for Family Camp at Indralaya. Michael was dedicated to creating community and always looking for how he could contribute.
In 1995, with strong support from the Orcas community and people from around the world, Michael and Penny traveled to China to adopt their daughter, Lily Xiaowen. As far as Michael was concerned this was the best thing that ever happened to him. His close bond with his daughter was a joy to him and an inspiration to everyone they encountered.
Michael was, first and finally, a writer. He made a living in many ways over his lifetime, but his dedication to writing never wavered. Every morning, he awoke early and wrote for at least an hour. He published seven books beginning in 1989 with “Dancing With the Fire,” edited a quarterly newsletter called “Dragonfly” for more than ten years, wrote countless articles and blogs and a wonderful body of songs. When he was diagnosed with cancer in February of this year, he asked the doctors if they could just give him 6-8 weeks to finish the novel he had been working on for the past year. Thanks in part to his strong will, Michael lived more than 12 weeks and in that time published “Jubilee Day.” He also fulfilled his other hopes: turning over his web design business and spending time with the people he loved so dearly.
Michael and his family are so deeply grateful to all of the friends from near and far who supported him in these last months. The vitality he regained for a time after his diagnosis was fueled in large part by the love he felt pouring into him from so many.
Michael is survived by his wife, Penny, daughter, Lily Xiaowen, brothers, Steve and David Ibbeken, sister, Pat (and Don) Zerbe. Beyond these, he cherished the huge circle that made up his “chosen family” and though he was not afraid, he was deeply saddened to have to leave us all.
A Memorial Gathering for Michael will be held on July 16 at the Orcas Center. Further details to follow. Please contact Libi Geddes if you would like to help. Donations in Michael’s memory can be made to OPAL Community Land Trust and, for his family, to the Michael Sky Medical Fund at Islanders Bank.
Submitted by Michael Sky’s family.