Michael was born on 24 June 1937 in Ventura, California. He was the son of Arlo W. Harris and Marguerite Fisher Harris of Ojai, California. Michael is the oldest of three children including Ella A. Christensen of Kanosh, Utah, and Jon A. Harris (deceased).
Michael’s father owned several service stations in Ventura County. Michael grew up in Ojai near his Grandpa and Grandma Harris who had moved to the valley in the 1920’s. His formative years were spent “helping” around his dad’s service station and at his grandfather’s businesses (ice house and butcher shop). In December 1941, the United States was pulled into WWII which affected his father’s ability to continue his business. The war affected Michael as well, he saw the rationing of food and material products. During the war, the Harris family moved to Oxnard, California, where they stayed until Michael was a freshman in high school.
In 1952, they moved to Crescent, Oregon where Michael’s family owned a motel along Highway 97. At the time, this was the fastest route from the central valley of California to Oregon. Here, Michael spent his time helping with the motel, studying for school and drawing. He graduated from Gilchrist High School in 1955.
Michael was accepted at Brigham Young University and attended there for three years. Summers were spent working for the US Forest Service. He always said that this job was a great blessing for him because it helped pay for school each year.
In 1959, he was called as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He served for just over two and a half years in Hong Kong and Taiwan. This was a time of tremendous personal growth through service and teaching the gospel to many who had never heard of Christianity.
Michael arrived home from his mission in 1961 and returned to BYU, graduating with his B.A. in art in 1963. In February of 1963, he married LindaGay Dean, who grew up in Riverside, California. They met while attending art classes at BYU. He finished his student teaching and Master’s degree in 1964.
After graduation, Michael started his first professional job teaching art at Norte Vista High School in Riverside, California. This is where all three of their children were born (Laura, Jonathan and Nathan). Michael and Linda moved back to Ventura County, California, in 1970. Michael taught art at Channel Islands High School until about 1977, at which time he moved to Adolfo Camarillo High School. This is where he taught until his retirement in 1997. His 33 years of teaching was challenging and rewarding.
Michael was very involved with serving in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints during his lifetime. He served in leadership in the Camarillo area from about 1975 to 1996. In 1997, he was called to serve as Mission President in Taipei, Taiwan (1997 to 2000). He was again able to share the gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of Taiwan 36 years after his original service. Michael and LindaGay continued their service to the church by assisting in the LDS Los Angeles Temple from 2000 to 2013.
Michael’s life was full of service to others. He was always looking for ways to help those that needed a lift up. He was able to serve others through work, church, and family. He also enjoyed sharing his skills of art and design. Most of his art was shared with others as gifts for special occasions. There are hundreds of his prints displayed in homes of friends and relatives across the country. He loved to do printmaking (silkscreen, lithography, and woodblock). He also painted with oils on canvas and board. His love for art and drawing was a passion of his from his earliest years and continued throughout his life.
Michael and LindaGay have lived in Camarillo for 47 years, in the same home they purchased when they moved to the area in 1970. Michael is survived by his wife LindaGay, daughter Laura, sons, Jonathan (Jennifer) and Nathan, four grandchildren (Jonah, Marguerite, Elijah, and Michael), and his sister, Ella A. Christensen.
Services will be held Tuesday October 24, 2017 at 11:00 am in the American Fork 8th Ward, 300 North 100 East. A viewing will be held Monday from 6 to 8 pm at the Anderson & Sons Mortuary, 49 East 100 North and Tuesday from 9:45 to 10:45 am prior to the services at the church. Burial in the American Fork Cemetery.
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American Fork Chapel
49 East 100 North
American Fork, UT 84003
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6141 West 11000 North
Highland, UT 84003