With her husband at her side, Michele DuBose, 70, died unexpectedly Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015 in Casper, Wyoming, while returning from a visit to relatives and friends in Texas and Colorado. Cause of death was a ruptured aorta, most likely from complications of recent treatments for the 6th round in her eight-year ongoing battle with ovarian cancer.
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Michele was born December 24, 1944 to Michael S. and Nellie Talley Kipps in Blacksburg, Virginia. She graduated from Blacksburg High School in 1963 as Senior Class President and co-valedictorian. She began her higher education at Westhampton College of the University of Richmond. After two years there, she transferred to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a full Merit Scholarship, and was named to Phi Beta Kappa. In 1967 she was awarded a Bachelor of Arts, Summa Cum Laude, in English and Math.
After graduation from UNC, Michele married John W. Oliver, whom she had been dating since her junior year in high school. While he completed his undergraduate studies, she worked as Assistant to the Dean of the Library College at UNC. When John was drafted and stationed in Korea, she worked as a technical writer for the newly-formed EPA in Washington, D.C. It was her job to translate the research of EPA scientists and engineers into language understandable by members of Congress and the Nixon administration.
Following John's discharge from the U.S. Army, they lived in in several towns in the southeast U.S., as he moved from one employer to another. Michele's task was to find whatever job she could to help pay the bills. In Atlanta, she worked as a writer and publications coordinator for Applied Biologics, an environmental consultant to the nuclear power industry. In Avon Park, Florida, she taught English and Math at a private girls' high school. Her all-time favorite during this period was a job as Telephone Installation and Repair Technician in a small town near Columbus, Georgia. She was the first female employed by Southern Bell as a telephone repairman (her preferred term). A treasured family memento is a photograph of Michele in her spikes, hardhat, and tool belt high atop a telephone pole.
In 1980, Michele was blindsided by her husband John's announcement that he was leaving the marriage. Realizing that a degree in English was perhaps not the best foundation to assure financial security for a single woman, she applied the next day to the Graduate School of Business at Emory University in Atlanta. Accepted on a full academic scholarship, she completed an MBA in Finance Cum Laude in 1982. While at Emory she was elected president of the Graduate Business Association and was listed in the 1982 edition of Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges.
Following graduation from Emory, Michele accepted a position with First Chicago, that city's largest bank at the time. After a three-month training stint in at their Los Angeles office, she returned to Chicago as a loan officer in the Health Care and Educational Lending department. One "deal" she was most pleased about was a $20 million loan she arranged for the Museum of the Art Institute in Chicago. That earned her an after-hours private tour by the Museum's director with her sister Nancy and brother-in-law Ray, who were visiting from Virginia. Leaving the bank, in 1985 she took a position with a boutique financial advisory firm based in Chicago. There, as a consultant to lending and bonding institutions, she assisted hospitals and universities in analyzing their finances and obtaining financing for expansion and/or renovation. Her clients were mainly in Illinois, and she also worked on securing financing for hospitals in Louisiana, Georgia, and Florida. While she facilitated many $100 million-plus financing packages, her most gratifying times were spent helping small, struggling, non-profit hospitals survive and prosper.
In 1986 Michele reconnected with Robert (Bob) DuBose, her best friend from high school. Following divorce from his first wife, he had moved his one-man construction management firm to Chicago for business reasons. Though out of touch for 16 years, the chemistry of their deep personal friendship remained as strong as ever. For the next three years, they continued as "just friends," enjoying together the performing arts, museums, and great dining, along with occasional weekend drives exploring the forests and rivers of Wisconsin. In 1989, Bob finally came to his senses and realized their relationship was deeper than "just friends," and they became an official couple. In 1992 they were married – with many friends and family in attendance, all saying "It's about time!"
Michele's surgery for breast cancer in 1991 inspired some re-evaluation of their career plans and life priorities. In 1993 Bob sold out to his partner and they headed west, looking for a place to find employment that would also leave time for reconnecting with community and on their major passion, outdoor recreation in the mountains. Though they tried objectively to analyze various locations in Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana, Bozeman was always their secret hearts' desire. After spending Sweet Pea Weekend Festival discussing Billings vs. Bozeman they received a sign – Michele was offered a position teaching in the College of Business at Montana State University, starting in two weeks. She promptly accepted. (She was overwhelmingly impressed with the community participation in the volunteer- staffed Sweet Pea Festival, and was delighted to serve for three years on its Board of Directors.)
As Michele began the fall session, Bob shopped around for work – he and Michele ended up buying a retail lighting store, which Bob managed for the next 7 years with occasional hands-on help from Michele in bookkeeping, shipping, and receiving. In 1995, Michele jumped at the chance to become the director of the Small Business Development Center, a unit of Gallatin Development Corporation (now Prospera). For the next five years she delighted in counseling and helping entrepreneurial wannabees in raising capital, starting a business, and avoiding bankruptcy.
In 2000, Michele retired and they sold the store. For the next seven years, she reveled in extensive hiking, backpacking, camping, and travelling in their RV. They added downhill skiing to their winter XC skiing recreation, paddled their solo kayaks and tandem canoe on lakes and up to Class III rivers in Montana, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. During that time she was asked to serve as the Interim Director of Gallatin Development Corporation for a few months while they found a permanent replacement.
In August of 2001, having been challenged by their good friend (and best man at their wedding), Michele passed a grueling climbing course with the Exuum Climbing School in Jackson Hole, and she summited the Grand Teton via the Upper Exuum Ridge route with her husband and their friend, on the 10th anniversary of her breast cancer diagnosis. Given the English translation of the French word "Teton," she considered that appropriate.
In May of 2007 was diagnosed with Stage III(c) ovarian cancer. Thus began an 8-year wrestling match with that disease, where she battled through 6 rounds of recurrence and treatment, including major surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation. In between surgeries and treatments, she continued to enjoy outdoor activities and greater participation in the activities of her church. Fall camping trips to Moab, Canyonlands, and Arches, plus winter skiing, and summer hiking and back-country camping were major features of her life. Michele spent the summer of 2010 with her husband working in Grand Teton National Park, at the base of her "home" mountains. (On a drive-by trip in 1964, her heart had been captured by the Teton Range, and it never let go.)
As was the case throughout her life, lasting friendships were formed with co-workers there.
Throughout her time in Bozeman, she enjoyed attending with her husband their high school class reunions in Virginia every five years. After retirement, they made these trips in their RV, stopping along the way to visit friends and relatives throughout Texas, the Southeast, and the Atlantic Coast. They also paddled their kayaks or canoe on rivers along the way.
From her youth, Michele was always attuned to the outdoors and the natural beauty of landscapes. She was first exposed to camping as a Girl Scout, and never lost the pleasure of it. In high school and at home on visits from college, she and her then-best-friend Robert DuBose, would often take off for the nearby Blue Ridge Parkway or the Allegheny Mountains north of town just to commune with the peace and beauty of creation. After their move to Bozeman, they regularly exploited the nearby access to wilderness for backpacking, day-hikes, and float trips. A special treat was taking their granddaughters camping in Colorado and Montana, beginning when the girls were ages 2 and 5.
Church was always an important part of Michele's life. Raised in the Southern Baptist tradition, she was a member of 4th Presbyterian Church in Chicago, where she and Bob were reunited for life. Arriving in Bozeman, they were welcomed into the family of Christ the King Lutheran Church, where they have been active participants since 1993. She was grateful for the support received from ministers, staff, and members, especially after the onset of her ovarian cancer. Though not so much a "joiner," she was always a "doer," pitching in wherever she saw a need.
Michele's argument with cancer began at age 14 with the death of her mother from breast cancer. She defeated cervical cancer in 1985 and breast cancer in 1991. She won her first five rounds with recurring ovarian cancer, beginning in 2007. She never gave up, and never let cancer define who she was or how she lived. Bozeman's Cancer Support Community occupied a special place in her heart. She supported and in turn was sustained by the members of her Gynecological Support group and their wonderful facilitator, Wendy Gwinner. She was loved and admired by all in that difficult setting for her optimism, courage, tenacity, and kindness. The family is grateful for the care provided by Drs. Hensold and Koeplin and their staff at the Bozeman Health Cancer Center, as well as Dr. Randall Gibb of Billings Clinic and Dr. Gary Gross in Tyler, Texas. These folks enabled Michele to share eight more mostly good years travelling and recreating with her husband and soul-mate. Thanks are also due to the ICU/EMT staff at Wyoming Medical Center in Casper for their valiant efforts trying to save her at the end.
Michele's passing has left an unfillable hole in the hearts of all who knew and loved her. The world has lost one of the kindest, nicest persons that ever lived – heaven has gained an angel. There she has rejoined her parents, Michael and Nellie Talley Kipps.
She is survived by her husband, Robert (Bob) DuBose of Bozeman, Montana; sister Nancy (Ray) Hughey of King George; Bob's daughter Kim Hynes and their granddaughters, Nikola and Rachel Hynes, all of Evergreen, Colorado; Bob's son Torre of Aspen, Colorado; niece Jo (Wayne) Morrison of New Windsor, Maryland; nephew Mike (Gloria) Hughey and grandnieces Marie, Rebecca, and Rachel, all of Fishers, Indiana; cousin Mac (Vicky) Burnette of North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; and cousin Alex (Zee) Burnette of Roxboro, North Carolina On her brother-in-law Ray Hughey's side she is survived by his sister Ruth (Jim) Bagwell of Charlotte, North Carolina along with their daughter, Michele's "adoptive" niece, Katie (Will) Leonard of Houston, Texas; Ray's sister Nancy (Keith) Joyner of Richardson, Texas; Ray's nephew Kevin (Erin) Joyner and grandnephews, Andrew, Nicholas, Cody, and Logan all of College Station, Texas; and nephew David (Katie) Joyner and grandnieces Fay and Willa of Midland, Texas.
Members of Bob's family who had taken Michele into their hearts and homes include his mother Hazel and sister Marcia of Tyler, Texas; his brother Michael (Ann) DuBose with their children Sarah and Kevin, all of Chesapeake, Virginia; his uncle John (Susan) DuBose of Talihina, Oklahoma; cousins Lisa (Kathy) DuBose of Amherst, Massachusetts; Mark (Brittan) DuBose with their children Henry and Isabella of Hingham, Massachusetts; and Madeline (Darrin) Williams, as well as Madeline's son Ethan, of Murphy, Texas.
Private cremation is planned at Dahl Funeral & Cremation Service, Bozeman. A memorial service will be held at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Bozeman on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016, at 11:00 a.m.; followed by a light lunch reception in the church social hall. It is Bob's plan to next summer scatter her ashes atop the Teton Mountains in Wyoming, as her final earthly resting place. Michele's long-standing wish was that, in lieu of flowers, memorial donations be made to either Bozeman Health Hospital Cancer Center or to the Cancer Support Community of Bozeman, MT. Condolences and shared memories can be posted and seen at www.dahlcares.com.
Dahl Funeral Chapel
300 Highland Boulevard
Bozeman, MT 59715
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Dec. 27, 2015