Obituary: Michael E. Shea
Grandfather, architect, Renaissance man
Michael E. Shea died November 11 in Bend, Oregon after a yearlong battle with cancer.
He is survived by his wife, Vicki; children, Joseph and his wife Alyssa Shea, their children, Penelope and Alexander; and Sarah and her husband Austin Simmons.
Although Michael graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in architecture, he was always a proud Notre Dame fan due to his upbringing as the oldest child in an Irish Catholic family of 13 children.
He moved to the Padua area of Claremont in 1990 when he met and married the love of his life, Vicki, where they immediately started to raise their family, with their children attending Claremont schools. Although his work as an architect meant a daily commute to Pasadena, he always attended and was involved in his children’s activities, including school events, ballet, soccer, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. “He was a very attentive and loving father,” his family shared.
He called himself a “citizen architect,” which he defined as an architect that takes responsibility in one’s community to make it better. He did strive to help Claremont through his efforts chairing the city’s architectural commission for many years, chairing the ad hoc committee on the Claremont Sustainability Plan, among other volunteer opportunities through church and Boy Scouts. He was also a past president of the American Institute of Architects Pasadena and Foothill Chapter and was involved in many architectural projects throughout Southern California and Texas throughout his career.
He was environmentally aware of the impact we are having on our world. He and his wife transformed their Claremont grass front yard into a completely edible landscape with raised beds, fruit trees, and vegetables throughout. It was a learning garden for everyone walking by on the weekends as they parked to play soccer across the street.
“Michael was a Renaissance man,” his family said. “His creativity knew no bounds and he loved creating. He had an appreciation for the arts and all kinds of music. Michael was an amazing storyteller and with each telling, the story got funnier and more entertaining. He was also an amazing woodworker, whether it was furniture, longboards for the kids, pens or whatever could be turned on a lathe. He restored a 1967 Datsun Roadster literally from the ground up and his Christmas card sketches were a favorite among family and friends.”
He designed and built the couple’s dream home to have a net zero carbon footprint adjacent to the national forest in Bend, Oregon, where they retired.
“Most importantly, Michael was a good and dear husband, son, father, papa, friend, brother, uncle, and cousin,” his family said. “One of the most difficult things about retiring and moving to Bend was leaving friends and family. Those long-term relationships were the glue that held Michael up during his long illness and those relationships were the result of Michael’s integrity, honesty, and ability to laugh. Michael will be missed by many.”
A memorial Mass will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 6, 2024 at St. Rose of Lima Church, 1305 Royal Ave., Simi Valley, CA 93065, with a reception to follow.
Since relocating to Bend, the couple volunteered regularly at The Giving Plate, a local food pantry. It was his wish that memorial donations be made to The Giving Plate at thegivingplate.org/donate.
Thoughts and remembrances may be shared with the family at niswonger-reynolds.com.