Oliver Sherman Michael

Former longtime La Plata County resident Oliver Sherman Michael died Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, at his home in Aztec. He had celebrated his 96th birthday one month earlier. He spent the majority of his life in La Plata County.

Known as Sherman, he was born Jan. 2, 1917, to Harry Wilbur and Ardilla Blanche Cook Michael in Waldo, Kan. The family moved to Colorado in the mid 1920s, when they took over a relinquishment on a homestead on the Dryside, six miles west of Marvel. Mr. Michael attended Mountain View School.

“He only had an eighth-grade education, but was more knowledgeable than most college graduates,” his family said.

Mr. Michael was a veteran of World War II, serving in the Navy in the Pacific Theater. His family said one of his proudest achievements was achieving the rank of chief petty officer aboard his ship, the USS LSM-135. While rescuing sailors from a minesweeper that had been sunk by a kamikaze pilot, his ship was also sunk by a kamikaze in a Japanese Zero, and Mr. Michael had to swim a number of miles before being rescued.

“That was a real feat for a boy from the Dryside,” his family said.

After the war, Mr. Michael returned to the Dryside, where he farmed and ran cattle. He delivered flour for the Taylor Flour Mill at Long Hollow. Mr. Michael was also a heavy-equipment operator with Scott Construction and Nielson Construction.

In 1947, he married Kathryn Faye Jones in Gallup, N.M. They had just celebrated their 66th anniversary on Jan. 20.

Mr. Michael was a member of the Durango Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks Lodge No. 507, the Four Corners Gem and Mineral Club and the Old Time Fiddlers.

He enjoyed rock hunting and playing the mandolin. One of his greatest comforts in his last years was the companionship of his long-haired Chihuahuas, Sparky and Chewbacca.

Mr. Michael is survived by his wife, Kathryn Michael of Aztec; son, Merle Michael of Mancos; daughter, Sharon Roth of Bayfield; two grandsons; and three great-grandchildren.

Cremation has taken place. A memorial service will be held early this summer.