Michelle Licia Fariss passed away peacefully in Colorado Springs, CO on December 9, 2023. Michelle was born 2 May, 1954 to Wayne Earl May and Sarah Genevieve (Moen) May in Lower Merion Township, PA. She is survived by her husband of 47 years, Colonel Laurence A. Fariss; her sisters Stephanie Diaz and Camille Smith; her sons (wives) Jonathan, Matthew (Stacy) and Michael (Jenna); and nine grandchildren.
Michelle’s father was an executive with United Airlines and the family moved to New Jersey, Michigan and Oregon while she was growing up. She particularly enjoyed her years in Plymouth MI where she lived a “tomboy” life playing outside, riding horses, climbing trees with her best friend Meri-Lyn. She arrived in her father’s hometown of Medford OR in 1970 where she met her future husband Larry. He invited her to his church youth group and they forged a lifelong friendship. While Larry attended the USAF Academy, Michelle finished high school (she was a proud third generation graduate of Medford High School) and attended University of Oregon before she transferred to Colorado College.
Graduating from Colorado College with a Teaching Certificate in 1976 she married newly minted 2Lt Fariss back in Medford OR before they moved to Arizona for his pilot training. While there, Michelle began mastering the act of balancing her teaching profession while supporting her husband’s Air Force career. Michelle was outstanding at both, teaching when she could but always helping Larry advance through pilot training, finishing a master’s degree, attending professional schools and culminating in several commands where she helped families cope with the stress of Air Force life.
Taking time out from full time teaching, Michelle and Larry started a family in 1979 and she poured herself into raising three sons. The boys flourished largely due to her consistency as a mother. It was needed as the family moved 13 times while the boys were growing up and their dad was often gone on month long deployments. Her efforts paid off as her sons all became Eagle Scouts, All State Athletes and college graduates. They were her crowning accomplishments!
The family returned to Colorado in 1997 for Larry’s final assignments at the Air Force Academy and Michelle resumed classroom teaching while simultaneously pursuing a Master’s Degree from UCCS where she studied reading curriculum development. She had found her true passion and loved instructing reading curriculums for children and adults. She taught for 20 years at schools throughout the nation but really enjoyed finishing her teaching career locally at Douglass Valley Elementary and then Pikes Peak Community College. A superbly gifted reading specialist, she was recognized professionally as the District 20 Teacher of the Year and a finalist for Colorado Teacher of the Year.
After retirement in 2010 she lived out her years in Black Forest where she volunteered as a reading tutor and served as leader of her church’s Methodist Women’s group. But her greatest joys were her grandchildren, camping, planting flowers and feeding birds. Her last five years were a difficult challenge as she bravely confronted the disabilities brought on by an aggressive Parkinsonian Disease (Lewy Body). She faced here decline with great dignity and was respected and loved by all.
A strong Christian woman, Michelle’s Celebration of Life will be held at 10 AM on 7 June 2024 at her Tri Lakes United Methodist Church, 20256 Hunting Downs Way, Monument CO 80132.
In lieu of flowers please consider sending a donation in her name to her church at https://tlumc.org/ .
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