In Memory of Michael McGuire
There are facts about Michael McGuire that mark the passage of his time on this earth. He was born in Portland, OR on April 24th, 1946. He was a veteran of the Vietnam War, married, had two children, divorced and remarried. He was in finance and banking by trade, and served on housing authorities as part of his community engagement. He was a 30 year resident of Santa Barbara.
Beyond fact and figures was the real Mikey. He thought deeply (and mostly privately) on a vast array of subject matters. From afar he might seem stoic and studious, and yet when he’d engage in a topic with others he’d reveal a connected, thoughtful man. He’d smile easily at his own stories and enjoyed a diverse spectrum of friends that helped him expand how he saw the world. He believed in others. He’d know your name, look you in the eye when he shook your hand or gave you a bear hug. He never stammered, except when his heart would fill with emotion and his eyes would reveal his vulnerabilities.
He was the kind of man, father, husband, mentor that was resilient beyond belief, but not hard or calloused. He’d cuddle his cat with affection, give you the shirt of his back and perhaps hold you somewhat close to the same elevated standards he held for himself. He saw patterns in numbers and could site a lot and draw a home in his mind, then convert that vision to reality in his spare time. He loved to cast a fly.
There are so many stories, the ones we know intimately, the ones we half recall and the ones we’ve yet to hear. To that end, there will be a celebration of his life on January 19th, 2019, 1pm at the Santa Barbara Mission, Junipero Serra Hall. Brings your Mikey stories, see old friends and new. And most importantly, share in the love that he felt for so many and that so many felt for him. Because the most important part of his tale is that he was loved deeply. And he will be missed tremendously.
He is survived by the mother of his children, Marcia McGuire, daughter Kelli McGuire, son Scott McGuire, his six grandchildren and his beloved wife, Donna Christine McGuire.
A eulogy for my father by Scott McGuire
I was thinking last night about things that reminded me of my father. Not the general things, like sudoko books and how we shared the love of the numbers game. Or math problems in your head, as we would do on road trips (and now I see my son doing the same). But very specific, only tied to him items. For example, he embraced strangers, engaged everyone regardless of social status and was always willing to put ”another cup of water” in the soup when opening his door to others. There was always room at the table.
On Helping Others
I doubt I will ever look at graph paper and not think about my dad and house design. He did this his entire life, for places he would build, dream of or simply see if they were possible on paper as they were in his head. One of my most profound memories here was when I was perhaps 6 or 7 and had been drawing a van to live in well before #vanlife was a thing. He taught about scale and space and what was enough.
One day at his table, I remember watching him iterate over and over on a relatively simple design. When I asked what he was doing, he said he was trying to design the most efficient house from construction standpoint that he could come up with and still have it feel special and like a loving home. He had a passion for community housing and it was something that would be part of his life for decades.
I was I barely of remembering age, at the house he grew up in in Oregon. We were there to help my grandparents move and he and my grandfather took me for a walk along the “crick” as grandpa would call it, crossing a stream on a driftwood branch, my dad lot his balance and fell in. A few choice words later, he, grandpa and I had a good laugh. It stuck with me. And apparently him as well. Several decades later, we were driving to Washington to see my grandfather. We’d stopped for mass at Jesuit High School whet he attended in his you (another story there) and then went for hike in the old neighborhood. We found that same creek, talked about that old fall and both jumped in to the creek for no apparent reason. Splash!
On Teaching Others
Back to Jesuit High. We’d been telling jokes on that road trip, most not to be repeated here. But one, about an old women praying for salvation from a flood had us giggling. Imagine our surprise when at the service, the father starts telling the same joke, as a metaphor for faith and seeing it everywhere around you. We got a lot of sideways glances laughing as we were in the back of the church. That was until the punch line came from the pulpit. Then everyone understood we knew the joke.
On Being Observant
We were always around boats. But it was on sailboats that I learned something truly special about my father. In the dead of night, the twang of the rigging would change. A tone, a certain way they would strike and he’d bolt from his bunk. It wasn’t just that the wind had shifted, but that he could be asleep and still observe his world. He was always taking in and processing and using that information to better himself or protect those he cared about.
On Seeking Knowledge
So many memories involve construction sites. I remember our house in Parker, CO and working on the basement. We’d been hanging drywall and the cabinets in the shop. I was amazed that he knew how to do all theses things that were not part of his trade and I asked how he learned. He told be he’d started by being curious, then by trying, failing, improving, asking others, failing and trying again until it became reliable knowledge.
We didn’t speak for a year. There had been a fight, choice words, a disconnect. I’d later learn that he’d held his diagnosis from my sister and I for several months, knowing that our mother was in the midst of chemo and not wanting to overwhelm us. When I’d see him again for the first time after the diagnosis and we’d started talking, it was his last birthday. We’d gone for a walk along the river near the house in Idaho. We’d fallen back in to our patten of banter when there was an obvious and palpable break. I tried to bring up the past year, gutted that I’d lost the time, time I now saw was more finite than imagined. He wouldn’t let me go there. He interrupted, hugged me and said “we are here, right now, let’s enjoy this”
He used to say “Perfection is adequate” and as a child, I thought this some unachievable goal. But I learned as I grew, and knew him in a different way, that this was how he saw life. To be complete, to be perfect, was adequate. The true magic was in the journey there, to that adequate destination.
We each have those moments, those reminders of his life and ours. These are the reminders of shared life and love and friendship.
We were fortunate to be part of his journey and he along for ours. And in the pain of saying goodbye, let’s remember gratitude for what we had and the joy, learnings and love he brought to us.
Tim and Angel
The goat in the picture lives in Silverton, CO, and tried to kill us. We survived to bring you this dirtbag wisdom for the ages.