Michelle Elise Cormier
Michelle Elise Cormier, born in Houston, Texas, on the 20th of August 1976, passed away unexpectedly at her home in Denver, Colorado, on Sunday, the 20th of December 2015, leaving a hole in the hearts of loved ones near and far. Fluent in four languages and passionately curious, Michelle forged friendships around the globe with her warmth, intellect, and effervescent laugh.
Michelle excelled at St. John's School, where she was an "SJS Lifer," having attended from kindergarten through high school. Her love for, and proficiency in, languages led to her selection as outstanding student in Spanish and French, after, among other language related achievements, having translated a novel from Spanish to French.
After St. John's, Michelle attended Princeton University, where she graduated with honors with a degree in Comparative Literature and a certificate in German. At Princeton, she was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority and the Terrace Eating Club, an officer of Princeton PanHellenic, and a senior board member and disc jockey of Princeton's WPRB Radio Station.
After working with an investment management firm for two years, she attended Yale Law School, where she was an editor of the Yale Law Review.
A talented athlete, Michelle played varsity field hockey and set high school records in the shot put and discus. Growing up, she spent her summers at Camp Jeanne d'Arc in the Adirondacks of upstate New York, where she became a master archer, expert marksman, and talented sailor. Among the many awards she earned at Camp Jeanne d'Arc was the title of Medalist, an honor bestowed only a handful of times in the camp's 90 year history.
Michelle's love of travel, learning, and adventure took her to the far corners of six continents – where she established a working proficiency in ever more exotic languages, including, Greek, Russian, Chinese, and Icelandic.
Indulging their love of travel, Michelle and her husband, Dugan Bliss, had three marriage ceremonies, one in Jamaica, one in Thailand, and an official one in San Francisco, and spent their honeymoon in Bali. Their many other adventures included eating baguettes in Paris, sailing the Seychelles, singing with locals in Ethiopia, watching the sunsets in Santorini, sleeping in the Ice Hotel in Sweden, eating putrefied shark in Iceland, enjoying sushi in Tokyo, watching a cricket match in Australia, and swimming through a tide pool in Tobago.
A natural leader with an encyclopedic knowledge of – well – everything, Michelle will be remembered for her exceptional intelligence, quick wit, and fierce loyalty to her friends. It seemed that there was no skill that could avoid her mastery – whether it was planning a dinner party, serving as the critical lifeline on a friend's primetime TV "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" bid, or competing in trivia night contests. Michelle made uncommon excellence appear effortless.
Her professional accomplishments were many. After beginning her career as a corporate transactional attorney at Latham & Watkins in San Francisco, she went on to clerk for Federal Judges Edward Nottingham and Wiley Daniel in Denver, Colorado, and practice law at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, and Lathrop & Gage, as a litigator. She also devoted countless hours to pro bono efforts dedicated to representing the interests of disadvantaged children and reading to the blind.
Michelle left an indelible impression on all who knew her and will be sorely missed by countless friends and peers in the United States and abroad. She was preceded in death by her maternal grandparents, Mildred and Whitney Clement; paternal grandparents, Katie and Rufus Cormier Sr.; and uncle, Henry Cormier. Her absence will forever be felt by her husband, Dugan Bliss; her parents, Yvonne and Rufus Cormier; brother, Geoffrey Cormier; sister and brother-in-law, Claire Cormier Thielke and Rick Thielke; godparents, Janis Mayes and Andre Leon Talley; aunt and uncle, Katie Ruth and Elmore Robertson; and the many extended members of the Cormier, Thielke, Clement and Bliss families.
To quote one of Michelle's favorite poems:
"Les soleils mouillés
De ces ciels brouillés
Pour mon esprit ont les charmes
De tes traîtres yeux,
Brillant à travers leurs larmes.
Là, tout n'est qu'ordre et beauté,
Luxe, calme et volupté."
"Drenched, mysterious sun appears
In the curdled skies,
Treacherous as your eyes
Shining from behind their tears
There all is order and beauty,
Luxury, peace, and pleasure."
- Charles Baudelaire "L'Invitation au Voyage"
Michelle's family would be pleased to receive those wishing to offer condolences on Tuesday, the 5th of January, from six until eight o'clock in the evening, in the grand foyer of Geo. H. Lewis & Sons, 1010 Bering Drive in Houston. A private funeral service will be held on Wednesday, the 6th of January, followed by internment in Beaumont, Texas.
Because of the significant impact of Camp Jeanne d'Arc on Michelle's life, in lieu of customary remembrances, the family requests with gratitude that memorial contributions be directed to Camp JDA, Attn: Director Sandy Abbott, 16949 Belle Isle Drive, Cornelius, NC, 28031.