Michel Ann Louise Fay Salisbury, 74, passed away after a stroke on Monday, November 6, 2023, at St. Patrick’s Hospital in Missoula.
She was born on April 8, 1949, in Helena, Montana, as the first child of Ann and John Fay.
After attending Helena Catholic Schools, Michel graduated from Helena High School in 1968, where she met the love of her life and husband of 52 years, Jim Salisbury. They were married on August 28, 1971, in Helena.
Michel attended the University of Montana from 1968-1969. Her lifelong love of rocks prompted her to study geology, but that was not meant to be her life’s work. She returned to Helena to work for Blue Cross/Blue Shield, greatly expanding her knowledge of anatomy while she worked in their microfiche department.
In 1971, Michel and Jim married, moved to Missoula and lived in married student housing for three years while Jim was earning his bachelors’ degree. During that time Michel was a dental assistant for dentists Lewellyn (Beezie) Jones, Ann and Jack Moore.
Upon Jim’s graduation in 1974, they moved back to Helena. Their son, Ryan, was born in October of 1974, son, Greg, followed in May 1976 and daughter, Kathy, in July 1979.
While in Helena, Michel and Jim enjoyed time with their robust, fun-loving neighbors on Butler Street and with a generous number of family and friends. Michel, was a stay-at-home mom, provided childcare for many youngsters and led Bible Studies for friends.
In February 1983, when Jim accepted an excellent career opportunity, the family moved to Missoula. They have remained in Missoula ever since.
While raising three children, Michel made time to attend night classes at the Missoula Technology Center. She became a certified interpreter for the hearing impaired. Michel then worked for the Missoula County Public Schools for twenty years as an interpreter for the hearing impaired. This was her passion! She could listen to the teacher, silently repeat the teacher’s words (for students who read lips) and sign the ALS words (for the students who read sign language). She interpreted in classrooms, on football fields and during cheerleading practices, as well as during church services. She taught religious education and was the director for many children’s Christmas programs at St. Anthony’s Church.
Michel retired from the Missoula County Public Schools in June 2011. Shortly after retirement she was diagnosed with Non- Hodgkins Lymphoma. After months of treatment, God allowed her to be cancer free for the rest of her life.
In 2021, Michel was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. This is the only reason her family and friends have been able to cope with Michel’s sudden passing. They know what a long and challenging struggle lay ahead. Michel’s strong belief in Jesus never wavered. She was instrumental in guiding many people into a faith as strong as her own.
Michel loved time with family and friends and was always excited to see them at any opportunity. While she did not enjoy cooking, she was the first on the “kitchen clean-up crew”, she was a willing playmate for any child she was with, most especially—her seven grandchildren. Building tents, playing hide-and-go-seek, playing a variety of card and board games and working on puzzles kept Michel, her children and grandchildren entertained. She was a master of the TV remote control, finding just the right series or movie. She was a connoisseur of desserts, which perked up any part of her day.
Survivors include her husband, Jim; son, Ryan (wife Juli and grandchildren Bridger, Branson, and Chase); son, Greg (wife Michelle and grandchildren Cody and Jayden); daughter, Kathy (grandchildren Walter and Penelope), thankfully, all of Missoula.
Michel is also survived by her maternal aunt, Patty Coyle, of Missoula; sister and brother-in-law, Kally and Phil Porrini, of Helena; brother, Casey Fay, of Culbertson, Montana; sister, Peggy Willems, of Texas; nieces and nephews, Nick and Lara Porrini of Missoula; A.J. Porrini and Claire Gould of Seattle; Kaylee and Nate Colón of Nebraska; Steffani and Joe Roller of Texas; plus great-nephews, great-nieces, dear cousins and a huge number of other family members and friends.
Cremation has taken place at Garden City Funeral Home and Crematory. Memorial services will be announced at a later date.
The family would like to extend their heartfelt appreciation for the care given at St Patrick’s Hospital in the emergency room, intensive care, and comfort care, plus Missoula Garden City Funeral Home and Crematory. They appreciate the compassionate and competent care and service that was given.