Michele Erickson: Gone Too Soon; Remembered For Much

Michele Boylson Erickson of Redding died Wed., Jan. 4 after after a 20-year battle with breast cancer, and two years with Stage IV cancer.

She was 62.

In addition to leaving behind scores of mourning friends, colleagues, community members, acquaintances and extended family, Michele is survived by husband David Erickson; daughter Erin Kegley, son-in-law Jacob Kegley and granddaughter Micah Kegley, all of Redding.

Michele also leaves sister Patricia Moran and brother-in-law Steve Moran of Citrus Heights;  father Michael Boylson of Mokelumne Hill, Calif.; stepson Mark Erickson, his wife Janelle and their children, Cort and Amy; stepson Jon Erickson, wife Lisa and their child Alexa, all of the Sacramento area.

She was preceded in death by her mother, Helen Boylson, who died in August, 2003.

Born Michele Boylson on Dec. 6, 1949 in Long Beach, Michele’s father’s naval career fostered his daughter’s lifelong love of travel that began with the Boylson family’s two-year stay in St. Laurent du Var, France, including Michele and her sister’s education at the Cours Maintenon school in Cannes. The family subsequently also traveled to Spain, Italy, Germany, Denmark, Greece, Turkey and North Africa.

Even as a child, Michele – a green-eyed, dark-haired beauty – displayed a talent for cool-headed problem-solving. Michele wryly observed her older sister’s errors and consequences, then quietly set out to avoid those mistakes. And as a little girl living in France, Michele one day walked about 14 miles home from school after she’d forgotten her train pass. While the French Riviera police force and American shore patrol searched in vain for Michele, she navigated her way home by walking for hours along a road that allowed her to keep sight of the shoreline.

Michele Erickson in Portofino, Italy, last year.

Those who knew and loved Michele best will remember her as a strong, smart and sure-spoken woman with a well-developed sense of humor and keen “b.s.” detector. She epitomized grace under fire, and was a confident, practical dreamer and fearless leader who smiled easily and laughed with gusto. She was kind, fun-loving, witty and articulate, and had honed playful sarcasm to a fine, gentle art, with such phrases as, “How’s that working out for you?”

Michele earned a master’s degree in history from Chico State University, Chico. Her early employment years were spent in banking, and later as a Shasta College history instructor.

She dedicated the remainder of her work years to the non-profit world, where her last position was as the Deputy Director of Shasta County Child Abuse Prevention Coordinating Council. Michele was also instrumental in the creation of the Anderson Teen Center, and was a tireless community advocate for the underdog, under-served and under-represented, as well as the overwhelmed, over-worked and over-wrought.

Even so, Michele viewed her roles as mother and grandmother as among her life’s greatest joy and responsibility. Time spent with 2-year-old Micah Kegley was one of Michele’s top priorities, right up until Michele’s final days at home, where together the grandmother and granddaughter napped, read books, talked, laughed, hugged and put stickers on one another.

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A celebration of Michele’s life will be held on Sat., Jan. 21 at the Anderson Teen Center, 2889 East Center St. in Anderson. The reception will start at 1 p.m. and the official celebration of Michele’s life will begin at 1:30 p.m. Everyone is invited to share experiences and stories about this remarkable woman who touched so many people in such meaningful and memorable ways.

In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be made in Michele’s name to the Anderson Teen Center. Contributions may be brought in person to Michele’s celebration of life, or mailed to the Anderson Teen Center in care of The Child Abuse Prevention Coordinating Council of Shasta County, 2280 Benton Dr. Building C, Suite B, Redding, CA 96003.

Note: Regular readers will recognize Michele Erickson as ” Michele E” – one of this site’s most prolific and frequent commenters. In the four years of this site’s existence, Michele averaged about a dozen comments a month – every month. She spoke her mind freely,  bravely and with civility.  In fact, Michele’s last comments on anewscafe.com were on a pair of Shasta College student essays, which she wrote upon her laptop on the morning of Jan. 4,  from her bed at Mercy Medical Center. Michele died that night.  

Michele Boylson Erickson was a dear and loyal friend to me, this site, this community and countless organizations and individuals. She is missed already.

Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Prior to 2007 Chamberlain was an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, CA.

Doni Chamberlain
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Chamberlain is an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, California.
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23 Responses

  1. Avatar Sharon brisolara says:

    Thank you for sharing Michele with those who didn't have the good fortune to know her and for those of us who did, for the stories and the beautiful photos. What an amazing woman she was, with such a strong spirit. She gave so much, so beautifully. I'll see you at the memorial, Doni. Take good care.

  2. Avatar jacki g. says:

    What a lovely 'portrait'…though I did not know Michele, I will remember her now.

  3. Michele was a beautiful, true American hero… a gentle GIANT for the voiceless, at-risk and harmed… what a good friend to us all, and a sad loss… there are very few like her.

    Thank you for a most wonderful and accurate tribute, Doni. (You are right about her remarkable BS-detector! She knew who the fakes, frauds and Charlatans are in our community. Yet, she was also respectful and even cared about their dignity!)

    Oh, and what great photos! As sad as I am, they made me smile.

    Michele was instrumental in getting so many great ideas into action for our needy community. During her own fight for life, she was an unstoppable champion for our community – many fold. She was a dear friend and pivotal advisor/supporter for the parenting program, "Parent To Parent," I have run for 12-years now.

    For our Hispanic-Latino community (as for all peoples) she was a highly valued advisor for implementing better outreach and "bridge-building" work that was sustainable with little to no funding.

    She was a trusted consultant/contributor on an Anti Gang & Drug parenting video I produced for SINTF and the Shasta County Chemical People entitled, "Gangs & Drugs: False Belongings." That little, locally produced video won two Telly Awards (the "Oscar" for long-form videos), it also helped us receive a formal Commendation from Attorney General Bill Lockyer in 2005, who distributed over one thousand copies to law enforcement and Social Service agencies throughout our state: They are still in use today. Michele also consulted with me over the past few years on another community-enriching video series and documentary now in production. I hope to dedicate that vast work in her honor.

    Those are but just a couple of significant differences Michele Erickson made for a safer, healthier community for us all. I know Michele's many other living works will continue her fight for the lives of the rest of us, for many years to come.

    It made me cry to learn from your tribute, Doni, that on her dying day, she chose to build up our student-journalists you so graciously published… That was SO Michele!

    My hope: That we can name the Anderson Teen Center as a lasting tribute to Michele for her many indelible contributions, including the protection of our children and building then UP, while supporting parents in healthy family management and nurturing.

    Sincerely,

    Alan Ernesto Phillips

    Chairman

    NORTHERN HISPANIC LATINO COALITION

    P.O. Box 990875

    Redding, CA 96099

  4. Avatar Viki says:

    I didn't know Michele, but she sounds like an amazing woman. I'm sorry that you lost such a dear friend Doni. My thoughts and prayers will be with you and her family as all of you deal with your sadness.

  5. Avatar Budd Hodges says:

    Deepest symphothy to Michele's family and friends. She was truly a remarkable person as you protray in your tribute Doni. She will be greatly missed.

  6. Avatar Sherri Batie says:

    Sad to hear about Michele! I had worked with her on several projects. What a nice tribute, Doni. My best wishes to her family. She will be missed.

  7. Avatar Kate says:

    I didn't know Michele either, but her legacy will be a lasting one. May her family and friends find comfort in their shared memories of such a fine woman. Thank you Doni for sharing this inspiring story.

  8. Avatar Sally Davidson says:

    Michele and I have been friends since the early '60s….met in high school and remained great friends for decades. We laughed, we cried, we worried, and grew…I am so touched by all the tributes to her. She was an amazing…..AMAZING…..woman who cherished family, friends, life and learning. She is already missed… but, we know she is somewhere organizing and planning something special! Love to her friends and family ~ feel blessed that you knew her and shared her zest for life !!!

  9. Avatar Dana Shigley says:

    Michele did so much for the Anderson community. She fought hard for the creation of the original Teen Center, then continued to fight until the new building was completed. The kids in Anderson have opportunities to be involved and access to resources not available elsewhere because Michele made it happen for them.

    You will be missed, Michele.

  10. Avatar Butch Baird says:

    A wonderful tribute to a truly great woman. I am glad that she had someone with such writing talent to reflect her life and the tremendous impact she had within her community.

  11. Avatar Canda says:

    Doni, what a beautiful tribute to a truly remarkable woman. She meant so much to so many, and will live on in our hearts forever. I miss her so much it hurts. I can hear her laugh, and see her smile, as if she were right here, and I will never forget a single detail of the many years spent in friendship. I love you, Michele!

  12. Avatar Dodie Maguire says:

    Thank you, Doni, for the wonderful tribute to Michele. Yes, she is gone too soon. My heart and my tears go out to her family.

    I was employed by Michele about 10 years ago to open and run the Mill Street Resource Center in Anderson. As time went by the group I worked with started a community garden there. Michele was very proud of that accomplishment. Later I became Michele"s assistant at the Partnership and she and I then became friends. This past year she would bring her sweet granddaughter, Micah, to my house to play with my little dog. If we weren't playing at my house we would take walks at Turtle Bay. Michele was the best grandma and so loved her little granddaughter. The last time I saw her was just before Christmas when she and Micah came over and had cookies and tea. And as Sally said, I am sure she is somewhere planning and organizing something. She was amazing !

  13. Avatar Patrick Moriarty says:

    Doni, Thank you so much for the beautiful and moving tribute to our friend Michele – I loved everything about it, including the tears and smiles it generated.

    Michele was a wonderful and gifted person. She leaves a void not only in the lives of her family, friends, and colleagues, but in the organizations that had the good fortune to benefit from her considerable skills.

    I had enormous respect and regard for her as a colleague and friend. I am deeply saddened by her death.

  14. Avatar Michelle T says:

    Michele was an amazing human being…Heaven gained a special angel…

  15. Avatar Erin K says:

    Thank you Doni for a beautiful article. And thank you to everyone who has commented. It fills my broken heart with pride to have been her daughter. I miss her so very much.

  16. Avatar Pat Moran says:

    It is so supportive and affirming to see how many people also loved and admired my first, best and longest friend. To say we miss her seems so small. There is a hole in our world. I start to call her to share something multiple times a day.

    Thank you Doni, and so many friends, for lifting Michele up for and with us.

  17. Avatar Sarah Murphy James says:

    Doni,

    Thank you for the beautiful story and tribute to Michelle! I count myself among the lucky and blessed to have known her and been in her glowing presence, she will be greatly missed. My thoughts and prayer are with all of you, especially Erin and Dave as they navigate this emotional and trying time.

    Much love, Sarah

  18. Avatar Les Baugh says:

    Beautiful pictures. Beautiful woman. Beautiful soul. Thank you for your many kindnesses Michele…

  19. Avatar Nicole H says:

    There are no words for how much I miss Michele! I am still in the frame of mind that she is off in Italy and I can't get a hold of her until she returns. I was dreading the idea of her retiring from Shasta CAPC as she has been my mentor, my friend, my superior, my confidant and my go-to-girl with all my questions, big or small! I miss her everyday! I am thankful for her wisdom, her knowledge and her passion in everything she did! She was such a loving, attentive, doting grandma to Micah! I enjoyed when she would bring little Micah into the office and they would play with the toys I have here for my kids, "sign here" stickies, and lay in my bean bag when little Micah was tired. Michele loved her so much, always showing me pictures and videos of how adorable her granddaughter was!

    One of the last times I saw Michele, right before Christmas, I could see the struggle her body was having and yet she was pressing on with confidence, encouragement and strength! All I knew to do was give her a hug!

    My thoughts and prayers to Dave, Erin, Micah and her sister Pat! Michele was a wonderful woman and that doesn't even begin to describe how AMAZING she was! I MISS YOU MICHELE!

    Love,

    Nicole Huber

  20. Avatar Rhonda Breshears says:

    This was a beautifully written tribute to Michele, thank you for sharing. I loved Michele, she is deeply missed.

  21. Avatar Kevin Schindler says:

    Doni, I'm so sorry for this painful loss…seems a regular thing in a "50 something's" life, eh?. …I'm never going to get used to it…but it is, how it is. Please know, I, as many will, stand with you in this hard time. Friends…will get you through. I'm there as many are… Always. K

  22. Avatar Katie Hisken says:

    Michele and I have been friends for 30+ years. Even tho we have lived miles apart, our hearts and thoughts have always been close. We tried to see each other as often as possible. We have laughed, cried , shared the same birthday month and drank many bottles of wine together. Her awesome friendship has helped me over lots of good and rough times. She was such a treasure in my life and will always be with me in my heart and soul. My love goes out to all her family. Hugs forever my friend.