Uncle Marvin – June 4, 1912 ~ August 17, 2010

The beginning of the end of an era in the Michael family was marked a couple weeks ago with the passing of my father’s older brother, my Uncle Marvin at the age of 98 in Seattle, WA on August 17, 2010.
Uncle Marvin is a man I have known as much or more through stories told by my father than actual contact, as our family is and has been wide spread for many years, so time spent with him was limited. Still he did have a impact on my life, and I have vivid memories of the occasions I shared with him.
Marvin Michael was a pioneer, a term I find difficult to imagine using with regard to someone young enough for me to have known him, yet none the less one that fits him well. He was a pilot and an aeronautical engineer in the days when men who flew were regarded with at least as much, if not more esteem, than we have for the astronauts who go into space today.
I remember Uncle Marvin as a tall physically imposing man who always wore a smile and seemed to have an unending zest for life. He radiated enthusiasm in everything he did whether talking about his love of flying, his love for macaroni and cheese, or his love of God.
On one of my earlier visits in his home Seattle home with him, his wife, my Aunt Laura, and his four children, my cousins, I remember hearing him tell us the most dangerous part of flying was the drive to the airport. Crossing the Cascade Mountains during a snow storm with him at the helm of a VW Beatle convinced me he was right, but we survived and it was an adventure not lost on a young boy.
As a teenager on a later trip he gave me my first and only ride in a motorless sailplane. We were towed to an altitude of 2000 feet by another aircraft which then cut us loose, and as we soared over a rocky canyon on the eastern mountain slope of Washington state he instructed me on the fine art of catching thermals. We quietly climbed to 4000 feet in the powerless machine, and he turned the controls over to me, taking them once again after I lost the altitude we had gained.

I could go on about my memories of a man who in my mind ranks with the likes of Charles Lindbergh, and if the heaven he believed in exists I have no doubt he is now teaching young angels how to fly, but I’m going to turn this story over to someone who knew him far better than I. Following is the eulogy given at the memorial service for Marvin Lowell Michael by his youngest son, my cousin Larry Michael.

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 Marvin Lowell Michael

by his son Larry Michael

Tenacious, persevering, dedicated, focused and, yes, stubborn. How else can you describe a man who lived to 98 years. But there are many other examples of these qualities besides longevity that my father demonstrated.

Born the oldest of 3 children of a pastor, dad learned responsibility at an early age. He endured the Great Depression through frugality and hard work. During his early, years his fascination for aviation developed. His “Passion for Flying” became unwavering and the hallmark of his identity as most people knew him.

But I believe his love of flying was but one dedicated activity. He also was committed to his exercise. He regularly went to the gym, even convinced me to go with him when I was a kid when stationary bike riding was just silly. I now regularly go to the gym myself and use the silly elliptical. I remember his early morning deep knee bends. I swear he could have become a successful sales person of the Rebounder, you know, those little trampolines. I’m still in shock at seeing him jumping on his rebounder at 6:30 in the morning in less than full attire.

Dad also valued healthy food intake: salads, fish cranberry juice, fruits, vegetables – for a time the health benefits of seaweed were touted. And yes, he loved his vitamins. I remember one evening he was relentless in getting mom to take her B12 shot. Still, there was always room for ice cream.

The list goes on for unusually focused activities:

Chewing food. He called himself the world’s slowest eater. I

never knew anyone else besides Dad who chewed a milkshake.

Collecting coins. He was certain gold was the hedge against a failing economy. We all received coins at Christmas.

Writing his book. He was consumed with attending writing classes and producing and editing chapters of what turned out to be his successful memoir.

When growing up I thought that some of these activities were a bit different and over the top. Now I see that these unusual activities are reflections of quite admirable qualities that made Marvin, my father, a very accomplished man.

He was an aeronautical engineer/Boeing test pilot. An early aviation pioneer- represented in the Boeing Museum. He completed his autobiography, a great read. He flew famine relief in Ethiopia.

He never would have achieved these accomplishments were it not for this focused determination. But he was also a loving, caring, and gentle man.

I’ll never forget when he told me as a teenager that he loved me unconditionally. *He loved all of us kids. When I wanted to be a roller derby star, he took me roller-skating every other Friday night.

For Mike it was camping, the outdoors

For Gwen it was traveling to Ecuador and East Africa

For Carol it was hiking into the Olympic Mountains

He loved God. I will always remember his prayer list. He religiously wore his tattered overcoat, went to the living room daily and knelt next to the sofa. He had a list of people and organizations divided into 7 columns by day of the week for which he prayed. Mom and kids got a special column; we were prayed for every day. I’ll miss that. He was a prayer warrior infinitely committed to his Lord and Savior.

Dad always wanted to make it to 100 years old. His body was not tenacious or persevering – or stubborn enough. That was one achievement he did not accomplish. I think we will all forgive him for that.

But his spirit and soul are with the one he loved for 65 years on Earth. “I miss Laura terribly,” he often said. I am comforted in knowing that he is home with mom and with his Lord. A focused, dedicated and caring life on earth, well done.

More information about Marvin Michael is available:  Click Here.

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Text and image copyright 2010 Dave Michael.  No portion of this article may be reproduced without permission of the author.


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3 Responses to “Uncle Marvin – June 4, 1912 ~ August 17, 2010”

  1. Mental Disorders 101 Says:

    Uncle Marvin ? June 4, 1912 ~ August 17, 2010…

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

  2. Maurice Briggs Says:

    I am enjoying reading again Marvin”s A Passion For Flying.” Marvin came to visit me while we were living in Coulee City, WA and I was interested in Missioin Aviation Fellowship. Along with my wife and children, I went to Zaire,Arica, with Africa Inter Mennonite Mission, in charge of base maintenance. I worked with MAF also, putting my A&P mechanic’s license to good use. After 23 years in Africa, the last 17 doing base maintenance and aircraft maintenance with MAF, we returned to the USA and for the past 4 years have been manager and caretaker of a Christian campground 12 miles north of Leavenworth, WA. I appreciate Marvin’s life, abilities, and love for God .

    Maurice Briggs, mgr
    Camp CAMREC
    18899 Little Chumstick Creek Road
    Leaavenworth, WA 98826

  3. Maurice Briggs Says:

    Amazing, interesting man.

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