Michael Don Oviatt

February 11, 1951 – January 14, 2018

Michael Oviatt improved the lives of those he touched with his gentle nature and unwavering honesty.

Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, he began exploring the natural world at an early age. He reveled in hiking, skiing, biking, kayaking, swimming, and camping in the wildernesses of the United States, loving most the great national forests of the West. His exploration of the external world made him more introspective and led him to question our relationships with nature and with each other.

At Kalamazoo College, he majored in sociology and graduated after studying in Sierra Leone, whose people’s generosity and love of life instilled in him enduring humility and appreciation for the good that is proliferated through sharing authentic gifts, however meager. 

A student of Carl Jung, Michael pursued an understanding of the unconscious and worked daily to cultivate self-knowledge. He journaled his nightly dreams and honored them through a rich and diverse life: he was a campaign aide for a minority candidate in inner-city Philadelphia in the 70’s; a “ski bum” in Montana; a dancer, taxicab driver, and fitness instructor in New York City; a massage therapist in Vail, Colorado; a carpenter in Santa Fe; free-lance writer, technical writer, and training facilitator in Tennessee; and, after earning a master’s degree in counseling at Northern Arizona University at age 56, he was a behavioral therapist throughout the last decade. A dream also led him to become a skilled guitarist and singer who enjoyed performing at small venues around Flagstaff.

Haunted by Civil War battlefields in Tennessee, he became interested in and read extensively about the era, which inspired him to work on a historical novel about the Confederate General John Hood.

Over the last 25 years, he was dedicated to the Mankind Project; his experiences and relationships there increased the strength, discipline, and heart with which he approached his work as a therapist, empowering clients to recognize their “shadows” and find a clearer path to realize their dreams.

He is preceded in death by his parents, Lyle and Mary Oviatt, and his brother, Tim, all who nurtured his innate sense of humor and steadfast integrity. He leaves behind his cousin Barbie Birckner of Ft. Washington, Maryland, who shared many happy summers with him at Blue Lake, Michigan. He will be missed by a wide circle of friends, including Tom Conlon of Redmond, Washington, with whom he conversed, laughed, and shared adventures over the last 48 years. Missing him most is his wife, Margo, whose life he animated with his spirit of joy and deepened with his beauty, intelligence, and grace.

If you wish, you can make a donation in Michael’s name to the NRDC or an environmental protection organization of your choice.