Michele (Feldman) Baughman: 1937-2024

May 12th, 1937- April 1st, 2024


Michele (Feldman) Boughman, May 12, 1937, to April 1, 2024.
  • Michele (Feldman) Boughman, May 12, 1937, to April 1, 2024.

On Monday, April 1, at 7:42 pm, Michele (Feldman) Baughman died peacefully at home surrounded by her dearest friends. She was preceded in death by her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Feldman, her brother Roland, and her beloved husband of 54 years, Don Patrick Baughman.

Michele was born on May 12, 1937, in Paris, France. Her parents owned a prestigious Jewish restaurant in Paris. In 1939, during the Nazi occupation, the family fled from France into Spain and boarded a ship to Montreal, Canada. Michele was just 2 years old at the time of their escape. She was born with congenital hip dysplasia and had multiple surgeries throughout her life. When she was 13 years old her brother taught her to walk. As a young woman she moved to San Francisco where she met her "one and only," Don, a young Army veteran from Minnesota. They fell deeply in love and were married in 1966. They came to Humboldt County in 1969.

The Humboldt Open Door Clinic first opened in 1971, in what is now The Tin Can Mailman Bookstore, on the corner of 10th and H streets in Arcata. Michele thought it was a Veterinary clinic and brought her cat in for a check-up. She was told they could not help her cat because they were a medical clinic serving people, but they hired her on the spot. She was the first HODC receptionist and then became the primary scheduling administrator "extraordinaire" where she served the community for 30 years! Upon her retirement, CEO Herrmann Spetzler gifted her with a round trip ticket to Paris. On March 17, 2003, she went on the trip of a lifetime to France and Italy for 17 days, accompanied by her friend, April, who wheeled Michele in her chariot over the ancient cobblestone streets of Europe. She called Don nearly every day to tell him of her adventures, even from a phone booth at the Palace in Monaco.

Michele and April met at the clinic in 1977. They became great friends for the next 47 years! When they first met, Michele was able to walk a short distance with a cane. As walking became more difficult, she used two canes, then she purchased an electric trike. She could be seen riding her "Lark" all around town. She was a reckless driver! In 1997 she bought a fancy tricycle that she pedaled with her hands. She was often spotted riding her trike all over Arcata and Bayside. She and April did the 10-mile Tour of the Unknown Coast together. Michele had a lively group of friends coined "The Breakfast Club" which often included K.T., Audrey, Terri, Cheyenne, Shelley, Theresa, Pam, Jovonne, Jeri, Connie and April. Michele loved to dine out at Larrupin's, Abruzzi's, Folie Deuce, La Trattoria and other fine restaurants in Humboldt County. She enjoyed celebrating birthdays, family holidays, clinic parties and camping at Smith River, Klamath, Coon Creek, Forest Glen and Yosemite National Park.

Michele was rambunctious and enthusiastic about life. She was a kind, devoted friend with a tender heart, and she was especially fond of children and animals. Her laugh was effervescent and contagious. Her fiercely positive spirit transcended all physical limitations. Her wisdom and intuition were precise. With her intelligence and razor-sharp wit, she was a force of nature to be reckoned with, and a joy to all who knew her. The strength of her character was as powerful as her love of life. After Don died on April 20, 2020, during the pandemic, she moved to Michael and April's studio apartment, where she was able to live independently for almost four years. She loved weekly outings to the Arcata Marsh, the Farmer's Market, Café Brio (for French fries) and ice cream at the Arcata Scoop.

Many thanks to Dr. Sarah Sherer, her primary care physician, and the staff at Humboldt Open Door Community Health Center, Kelli Swartz (Humboldt County Public Guardian), the nurses at Mad River Home Health, Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services, Dr. Tong at Mad River Community Hospital (for allowing her to come home), and a very special thanks to her In-Home Health Services provider, Paul Humphrey, for his continued care and devotion to Michele for the remainder of her life. (The joke's on you, Paul. She left us on April Fool's Day!)

A Memorial Bash will be held at The Plaza View Room in Arcata (Jacoby Storehouse, third floor) on Saturday, May 18, from 6-8 pm, catered by Uniquely Yours. There will be a no-host bar. Bring your favorite uncensored stories to share. "The Backseat Drivers" will provide the music, with love to light her way.

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