Michelle and Dean
Michelle, Dean and daughter Lisa Lisa, Husband Stuart, son Michael
Michael: Cinematographer Extraordinaire (2017)
December 23, 1933 - March 5, 2017
Highlights of Michelle's Life produced by grandson Michael Greenwood
Michelle’s Memorial Service
March 18, 2017
Let’s talk about me ...
With Michelle gone I feel like I’m back to where I started over 50 years ago … I’m the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz ... before he met the wizard ... If I Only Had a Brain …
I also know that when I walk into some event without her glittering exuberance on my arm I’ll melt into the crowd and be just another tall guy in a tuxedo.
And, now what am I going to do, I haven’t bought a piece of clothing – right down to my tighty whities - for 49 years.
Michelle and her bothers John and Chris were born in Chicago to Greek parents who immigrated to the US in search of a better life. Unfortunately, by the time she was 14, both parents had passed.
John was old enough to strike out on his own, but Michelle and Chris found themselves in separate foster care situations … As soon as she was old enough, she packed up her belongings, said goodbye to Lake Michigan winters and moved to Southern California …
When Chris was old enough she drove cross country – alone - to bring him to live with her in California – the fact that the car caught fire on the way back is another story for another time …
John eventually moved to Southern California where the three raised their families and spent the rest of their lives.
Everyone who knew her knows she was gregariously outgoing. What most people don’t know is that she was guardedly private … On occasion that was an enigma waiting to happen.
I loved everything about her dearly. … even those things I may never know.
She certainly was the Wizard of our family and the financial wizard of both the family and our music publishing business … she was a shrewd investor and rarely purchased household goods that weren’t on sale, or that she didn’t believe would produce some long term positive return on investment … like some of the furniture in our house which she believed would become antiques … and which we rarely allowed anyone to use … including ourselves.
In 1985 she allowed me to buy her a Mercedes 380SL for her birthday AND Christmas present because she believed it would become a classic …. It is currently sitting in our garage, has under 25000 miles on the odometer, is showroom fresh … and is probably worth more than we paid for it.
She’d been right about cars before, in fact I married her for her '57 T-Bird and her 1963 Buick Riviera!
She loved those Bed, Bath and Beyond mailers that gave her $5.00 off if she purchased $15.00 worth of merchandise … They came frequently. We went frequently … She never spent more than $10.00 and we came home with something she thought she needed at a 33 1/3% discount
She loved talking to John LoFrumento, Hal David and her broker, Joe Cefalu about investments. She watched the market, read everything she could about investing and made many very shrewd moves throughout our life together.
To say she was tenacious is an understatement. When it came to family matters, the results of her tenacity were generally positive – though, as with all families, there were some rough patches … With her close friends her tenacious loyalty was no less than undying … with her health it saved her life - twice.
17 years ago I came downstairs where she’d been ironing to say goodnight. I found her on the floor with the hot iron pressed against her cheek. She’d had a stroke … 911 got her to the hospital in time to save her life but she was completely paralyzed on one side and the section of her brain that allowed her to form speech was completely destroyed.
Linda Gasson, a brilliant speech pathologist from Providence, St. Joseph’s Hospital here in Burbank, spent untold personal hours working with her to develop other parts of her brain that would allow her to speak again.
They had long conversations, where Linda would help her regain the ability to say words she could no longer form …
On her own, Michelle read everything she could get her hands on - out loud – to learn how to form the words and to rebuild her vocabulary. And, together with Linda’s help and encouragement, she eventually rebuilt her ability to communicate verbally to nearly 100%.
Linda is here today … a great family friend … and Michelle’s, “take no prisoners” guardian angel for the several times she found herself back at St. Joes….
Simultaneously with relearning how to speak, Michelle undertook a rigorous exercise regiment that eventually allowed her to overcome 90% of the effects of her paralysis … she exercised religiously until her final illness made it impossible for her to get back on her treadmill.
Several years after recovering from the stroke her doctor determined that she needed what should have been simple gallbladder operation …. Unfortunately, she developed a bacterial infection while in the hospital which forced the hospital to put her into an induced coma for four weeks while they tried to determine what actually caused the infection. They never found out the actual cause but through the amazing dedication and perseverance of the ICU team they brought her back from the edge.
And, through her tenacity and perseverance, once again she powered herself back to almost full physical capacity.
Through all of this, her mental capacity was never diminished … She could remember in minute detail everything that happened in her life … Sometimes that incredible memory didn’t play to my particular benefit.
I like New York in June, how about you? … She loved New York in June … especially Bloomy’s, Rockefeller Center, window shopping, our wonderful New York friends, the hotel we loved and the Viand coffee shop 61st and Madison.
Cy Coleman introduced us to Viand. They make the greatest turkey sandwiches in the world - made with turkey cooked fresh every day right in the store. We made it a tradition every year to feast on mile high fresh turkey sandwiches, a Greek salad and French fries.
See also loved the worldwide travel our business afforded us, and the extra perks “That’s Life” and the aura of Frank Sinatra added to our visits anywhere we went. You really get the feeling of how global music is when someone in France who only speaks French sings the lyrics to your song to you in English.
It was our wonderful friend, Dr. Ramilla Doshi, not a travel agent by trade, but the greatest creator of travel itineraries in the world … for friends only …who put together the most exiting trip we ever experienced … our last great international adventure in 2013 … an amazing trip to Africa.
You may have noticed the elephant backdrop used in the opening slide show (put together by our grandson, Michael, by the way) and wondered about the significance… Michelle loved elephants … there are references to elephants all over our house. In fact, she refused to marry me until I promised to buy her an elephant and keep it in the vacant lot across the street from our home. … as you might have guessed, I reneged on that promise … So, instead of bringing an elephant to her, we brought her to the elephants … hundreds of them.
[Incidentally, the central picture above was taken in 2013 for her passport.]
She loved to dress up and go to events … she hated rubber chicken.
She loved her brothers Chris and John and missed them dearly when they passed. She loved her nieces and nephews, her grand nieces and nephews, her close friends, and, I’m very lucky to say, she loved me too.
She had a very special love for our grandson Michael …
But, she loved our daughter, Lisa, most of all.
To say I will miss her is an understatement. The fact is, I will never truly be me again without her.
Her Mother’s Memorial Service
March 18, 2017
My mother was a remarkable lady. Beyond her obvious beauty, elegance and brilliant mind, she was the truest example of a warrior.
Extremely private, she silently and fiercely fought her cancer diagnosis in Oct 2015 with treatment and then surgery not telling a soul outside of immediate family. (Even that was limited)
Her passion, devotion and loyalty for her family & close friends has always inspired me.
She was a complex women.
Controlled and timed when giving guidance; she was firm with her convictions, impatient and non-budging with how she expected the outcome to be.
Contrary was her free spirited and patient side.
An example of this existed in her love of gardening and planting.
I will always treasure the memory of the excitement in her voice and her ear to ear smile while showing me her first full size pineapple grown from the scraps of a pineapple top she had planted almost 3 years prior.
She was my dearest friend & strongest critic. Our lifetime of smiles, tears, laughter and struggles connect our souls forever.
She will be missed every day and loved always and forever.
Michelle’s Memorial Service
March 18, 2017
Michelle was special.
I remember her warm smile and great personality
I believe that GOD sends very special people into our lives. Michelle was that person for me. She became a special friend
Michelle was loving and kind. She had a great sense of humor. We would laugh together over the great e-mails and cartoons she would send to me, and stories about her pet monkey.
I also remember how excited she became over her gardening and growing her first pineapple on her terrace.
I felt empty since I learned of her passing , but I'm getting through by reminding myself of the love my dear friend, Michelle , left behind and the many lives she touched in her lifetime.
I hope you will join me in remembering and celebrating my dear friend Michelle today and always.
Michelle’s Memorial Service
March 18, 2017
Michelle Kay was my friend.
Sometimes God puts people in your life and you don’t know why. But it is not a coincidence.
They are simply – a gift from God.
Michelle was definitely God’s gift to me.
We met because of both our relationships with the ASCAP Board of Directors. Neither of us were on it (we should have been), but there we were. Together for no apparent reason. With some people you just have an instant heart connection – that was Michelle and me.
Everything about Michelle was bigger than life… Her husband… Her closet… Even her diamonds!
She loved diamonds. They were an extension of her personality brilliant, sparkling and on fire. But… she would lose them regularly.
I can think of 3 or 4 times (or maybe 5 or 6) that we crawled around the floor of various ballrooms because Michelle had dropped a bracelet, a ring or a necklace. That was Michelle.
I remember one trip to NY when Dean and Michelle and I were on the same plane. We met in baggage claim and as I picked up my one bag for the 3 day trip, I watched as bag after bag after bag of Michelle’s Louis Vuitton luggage (covered in plastic protectors) got loaded onto a luggage cart. I stared in awe. How could a person whose clothes are the size of a postage stamp possibly fill 5 giant pieces of luggage with clothing for 3 days?... I confronted her about it. She gave me that look … and said, “Well, I have to have choices!”
Dean only had one bag…
Then Michelle had her stroke - and I went into prayer gear. And for some reason, those prayers bonded us and cemented our friendship. Lunches here and there. A little shopping. And lots of talking. Always lots of talking – and laughing – and joking and having fun! She had a devilish sense of humor, never mean, but on point. She was kind, generous and caring to everyone. With me, she put my well-being above her own – grilling me about my health, finances, love life, wardrobe, jewelry... Just like a mother a sister, a friend.
Michelle impressed and inspired me. This smart, impish little itty bitty blonde was a force of nature. Fearless, courageous, undaunted by circumstances. Any circumstances.
She fought to walk again. To speak again. To make her brain coordinate words with her mouth. She insisted on being well. On being whole. She was tough. She was a fighter.
And then, she got sick again. This time, cancer. And she fought it like hell. She chose life every time there was a choice and a chance she could get better. This little ball of fire was not going down without a fight. I watched her bravery, her resolve, her joy. Throughout it all she continued to smile, make jokes and laugh.
When I think of courage, tenacity, fearlessness, generosity, kindness – I think of Michelle. I loved her. I loved everything about her.
She was the epitome of life and I will miss her.