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Mieke Michael



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Brilliant, beautiful, gracious, and enthusiastic. A glorious soprano voice and a gorgeous laugh. The brightest light in every room she entered. Loved instantly by all who met her. Beloved wife, sister, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and friend.

Mieke Michael died peacefully in her New Milford home on July 1, 2022. She led a remarkable life of over 102 years. She will be dearly missed and remembered.

Mieke was born December 26, 1919, to Maria Gimbrere and Gerard Buter, both of the Royal Dutch Opera Company, who had come from the Netherlands to New York’s Upper West Side in 1916. Her love of music and her Dutch heritage, and her pride in being a New Yorker, remained with her throughout her life. She was a straight A student who never once missed a day of school and was valedictorian of her high school class of 1935 at age 16. Under the tutelage of her parents, Mieke became an accomplished lyric soprano. Several years later, while at Good Counsel College, she met the love of her life, Joseph Michael, whom she married in May 1940.

Mieke had a brilliant and varied career in the arts. She was diligent in her study of the great operatic roles, favoring Puccini and Verdi. She performed for many audiences throughout the country and abroad, including USO tours and performances with the Bermuda Symphony during the annual Lily Festival. Her most cherished role was as a soloist at Radio City Music Hall’s Christmas Show. She appeared in television commercials, modeled for print ads and book jackets. She recorded an album of Dutch folk songs entitled Greetings from Holland for Monitor Records, now part of the prestigious Smithsonian Folkways catalog. Her cookbook of Netherlands cuisine, Holland Cookery, earned an enthusiastic nod from Virginia Kirkus of Kirkus Reviews.

Mieke and Joe celebrated 75 years of marriage before Joe’s death in 2015. Theirs was a life of true devotion, great friendships, and much laughter. There are many memories of wonderful gatherings with family and friends in their beloved homes in Redding and Westhampton Beach. A classic memory for many of us is Mieke in her “front yard,” aka the Moriches Bay, bent over with clamming rake in hand and her famous mesh clam bag strapped around her waist. Harkening back to the days when she clammed those waters as a child with her three brothers, she would raise her hand triumphantly displaying each of her bivalve conquests! These were some of her happiest times.

Well versed and well informed in the news and politics, Mieke read The New York Times every day and did the crossword puzzle religiously on Sunday. She loved poetry, especially verses in iambic pentameter. (At age 99 she fought the claustrophobia of an MRI by reciting Virgil’s Aeneid quietly to herself — in the original Latin!) She also loved limericks, and could recite many, including some rather salty ones. This did nothing to undermine her grace and refinement; she charmed and impressed everyone she met, to the end of her days. She adored having a project, and if asked her blood type, she answered that it was the same as her personality: “B Positive!” Her husband often said that what he loved most about her was “her girlish enthusiasm for everything.”

Mieke and Joe had four children: Victoire Michael (Peter Xavier) Sickinger of Richmond, Richard Michael (Marianna Adler) of Austin, Monica Kim Michael (Benjamin) Roberts of Newtown, and Felicia Colette Michael (Robert Brophy) of New Milford. Their grandchildren are Dr Claudia Sickinger (Roger) Harris, Eric Xavier Sickinger, Marika Victoire Sickinger, Emily Colette (David) Howard, James Michael Marron, Danielle Roberts, and Emily Roberts. Great-grandchildren are Peter Liam Harris, Alexa Harris, India Harris, Willem Howard, Eliza Howard, and Silas Pierce.

In addition to her husband and parents, Mieke is predeceased by her brothers, Xander and John Buter. She is survived by her younger brother, Gerard Buter, of New Jersey, her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and many (great) nieces and nephews.

A private burial will be followed by a fall memorial service, date to be announced.

Donations in Mieke’s memory can be made to Opengate in Somers, N.Y., opengateinc.org.

If you want to honor her in a simple way, pet a dog or cat, dig a clam, sing a song, or recite a limerick!

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