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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.