Michael was the second born to a Coloradan family of seven kids. To his children, wife, family, friends and colleagues, he was a faithful father, partner, son, brother, friend and leader who always stood up for the underdog. He gave of himself whatever he had — his time, energy and resources — to anyone who needed his help.
At 18, after graduating from Arvada High School, he buzzed off his long, wavy blond hair and joined the Marine Corps. He proudly served his country for four years and rose to the rank of Sergeant. After an honorable discharge, Michael attended Prairie Bible Institute in Three Hills, Alberta, Canada. In 1981, he served God as a short-term missionary, planting churches in remote regions of Liberia, West Africa. It was there he married his first wife, Catherina Vandenbor, in December, 1981. Back in Three Hills, the couple welcomed their first son, Michael, in October of 1982. Their second son, Ryan, was born in May of 1984. In 1985, Michael earned a bachelor’s degree in Theology from the Bible College. Their daughter, Eden, joined the family in September of 1986.
His chosen career, which he cultivated as both a business owner and crew leader, was as a master arborist. He formed Rocky Mountain Tree Services in Vancouver, Canada and ran this business for 15 years. In his later years, Michael returned to Colorado and worked for Davey Tree. His crew members, who called him Big Mike, revered and admired his experience, wisdom and strength. From his vantage point high in the treetops, he always kept his humility and gratitude as a man given so much love and grace.
In the summer of 2017, Michael was given the gift of his final love story. He met Laura Balusong at a Hall and Oates concert where Michael just happened to be occupying her seat. After a night of dancing and flirting, their mutual feelings were undeniable. In September of 2018, they were married. They lived a peaceful life together, cultivating a deep friendship, filled with a passionate and genuine love. As Michael would often say, their love was supernaturally sweet.
His greatest achievement and legacy was being a father to his three children. His daughter Eden preceded him in death in 2016, and at this very moment they are together, quietly and peacefully looking down to witness the gathering of their family and friends to celebrate his life.
Michael suffered the loss of two siblings: Timothy in 2009, and his only sister Sydney in 2016. He is survived by his sons Michael and Ryan (wife Catherine); his wife, Laura Balusong; his father, Don Murray; his mother, Nona Brown; his brothers, Dennis (wife Diane), Charlie, Jerry and Don (wife Rachael); his parents-in-law, Peter Balusong and Diane Estanislau; brother-in-law Bill Hennion (wife Amy);extended family and lifelong friends.
Go with God, dear Michael. We will love you always and forever.