Obituary: Larry R. Michaels, 1964-2019 | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Obituary: Larry R. Michaels, 1964-2019

Signal Corps vet and outdoor educator founded Hardwick Trails

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Larry R. Michaels
  • Larry R. Michaels

Larry R. Michaels died on October 4, 2019, at his home at the age of 55 from a gastrinoma (neuroendocrine tumor, or NET).

He was born on March 3, 1964, in East Chicago, Ind. He grew up in Tinley Park, a suburb of Chicago. His early years included spending time with his cousins in Chicago and Indiana. He graduated from Providence High School, after which he enlisted in the U.S. Army. His service took him to Germany, then to Site R in Fort Ritchie, Md., and finally Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks, Alaska, where he served in the Signal Corps with top-secret security clearance during the Gulf War. After an honorable discharge, he attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He graduated from Illinois State University with a bachelor in science and, later, from Aurora University with a master’s in recreation administration.

He returned to Alaska, where he worked in outdoor education for many years. He spent much of his time climbing and camping in the great outdoors of Alaska with now lifelong friends. After the darkness of Alaska became too much, he took a cross-country trip in the lower 48 states. Fate found Larry in Vermont, where he made his home and found his chosen family in Cabot. During this time, he spearheaded the creation of the Hardwick Trails, a multiuse system of hiking, biking and cross-country trails. He moved to Boston to work for Outward Bound in Boston Harbor and, later, for the Carroll School.

Larry met Gretchen Gaida Michaels in Massachusetts, and they wed in 2007 in Vermont with Camel’s Hump as the backdrop. They made their home in Concord, Mass., for several years, enjoying the history and beauty of this area. During this time, Larry worked in real estate management in the Boston area.

Larry and Gretchen moved to Vermont, where they lived first in Lincoln and then in South Burlington. Larry worked in real estate development at O’Brien Brothers Agency and then as a Realtor at Hickok and Boardman Realty. Larry became very engaged in community and civic life, helping manage the dump and Burnham Hall in Lincoln before helping to establish the South Burlington Business Association and serving on the South Burlington Affordable Housing Committee. He was involved with the South Burlington Rotary and served on the Queen City Park Audit Committee. He was committed to Mercy Connections, where he was a board member and chair of the finance committee.

All of these words do not capture Larry’s zest for life and eagerness for adventure and trying new things. He had a skill for forming relationships and connecting people, even up until his final days. His figure could be imposing, but he could also be sensitive when interacting with his family and friends.

Per Larry’s request, there will be no services. We will celebrate his life on Saturday, October 26, from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Hotel Vermont in Burlington. Donations in his honor may be made to Hardwick Trails and Mercy Connections.

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