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Joseph O. Michell

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Joseph O. Michell Obituary
Joseph O. Michell

A man of great generosity and easy charm, a man who loved his family and his country, departed this life on October 23, 2013. He was 88. Anyone who knew Joe knows that a spirit as big and bold as his is not extinguished in death but lives on in the hearts of family and friends and soars forever on the wings of song. Joe was born on February 18, 1925, to Mildred and Joseph O. Michell, Sr. Joe attended Mary Star of the Sea elementary and graduated from St. Anthony High School in Long Beach in 1943. Joe volunteered for the Army Air Corp and was assigned to the 6th Emergency Rescue Squadron in Okinawa where he flew B-17s and participated in air-sea rescue operations. After his honorable discharge, Joe joined the US Air Force Reserves and served until his retirement in 1975 as a Lt. Colonel. Joe enrolled at UCLA and later transferred to the USC School of Architecture. In 1949, Joe joined the Los Angeles City Fire Department. His career spanned 29 ½ years. Joe was one of the first certified scuba firefighters and at the time of his retirement, was super mate at Boat 1. For seventeen years, Joe was a LAFRA trustee for Battalion 6-16 and later served on the board of the Retired Fire and Police Association. Joe considered his firemen friends to be among the best a man could hope to have. Joe and Marie (Elze) were married in 1950 at (old) Holy Trinity Catholic Church, now known as St. Peter. Together, and with the help of their firemen friends, Joe and Marie built the house that Joe designed in the Palisades area of San Pedro. Nine years and four children later, they moved into their second home, the house with the "million-dollar view." Now recognized as a classic example of "mid-century modern," the house reveals the architectural vision and creative genius of Joe Michell. Over the years, Joe designed a total of six homes in San Pedro and RPV. His cartoons were a popular feature in The Firemen's Grapevine magazine and his original birthday cards were highly prized by his children and grandchildren. Joe was a smooth dancer, a strong swimmer, a savvy investor, a serious recycler, a wizard at fixing things, an enthusiastic marimba player, and a bit of a ham. But what he really liked was to sing. Accompanied by guitar, piano, marimba or mandolin, Joe loved family songfests and his clear, Irish tenor added richness to every song. Joe Michell was a favorite uncle, a proud granddad, a loving father and a devoted husband. He is survived by his wife, Marie, and their children: Patrick (with wife Felicia), Monica (with husband Rick), Dian (with husband Charles), and Timothy (with wife Marta); and grandchildren: Amelia (with husband Jason), Zachary (with wife Tessa), Joseph, Elizabeth, Nicole and Chris; and great-granddaughter, Ella Rose. He is also survived by his brother, Robert (Father Timothy Michell at our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey), and his brother in law and sister in law, Carl and Mary Jean Elze, and their family. A memorial Mass will be celebrated at 11:00 AM on Friday, November 8 at St. Peter Catholic Church, 575 W. O'Farrell St. in San Pedro. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: The Los Angeles Widows, Orphans & Disabled Firefighters Fund: c/o Los Angeles Fireman's Relief Association 815 Colorado Blvd Los Angeles, Ca 90041 http://www.wodff.org/lafra/. Please sign the guestbook at www.dailybreeze.com/obits.
Published in Daily Breeze on Nov. 5, 2013
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