Michael Richard Heraty was born on March 16, 1992, in Vail, Colo. He arrived in southwest Colorado with his mother and father in 1995 and met his first Pagosa friends, Dustin Anderson and Allen McGiver. He attended school in Pagosa Springs through eighth grade, where his teachers inspired his thirst for knowledge and his creativity as a student of life.
He graduated with honors in 2010, one of the “Men of Ten” from Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix, Ariz. He would later say those four years had been the best years of his life. He was challenged greatly and excelled academically, expanding his view of the world and its people. It was at Brophy where he began his mastery of the Spanish language. He made many friends among students and faculty. He was awarded a scholarship to Arizona State University, where he finished his degree in two and a half years, completing his final semester while living and working in Alamos, Mexico.
Michael somehow knew his time with us would be short and he became determined to make it count.
He followed dreams, not rules. He was bold and he was brave. Michael traveled fearlessly.
He was blessed with great friendships in near and far away places, where others might not have ventured.
He dared what life presented; he threw caution to the wind. He endured, and embraced the unexplored.
He was inspired by people, connected by their human spirits, each unique, in diverse settings and circumstances.
Michael loved art in all its forms. He practiced the art of living life well.
He easily crossed social boundaries that separated more rigid thinkers.
He created immense fun out of ordinary events and extraordinary events out of immense fun.
Michael was creative and whimsical, in his stories, written and verbal.
He was mischievous and loved to create elaborate practical jokes.
Michael was avant-garde. He was anything but conventional and challenged everything and everyone that was, especially his father and mother.
He was controversial, but often considerate and kind. Michael was endlessly curious and tremendously intelligent.
He loved the ocean and all its features.
He loved Spanish and felt most at home where it was spoken and among its many people.
He was excited by learning. Michael made an adventure out of every learning experience and loved to share his observations, with flair and enthusiasm.
He lived life passionately and with little fear. He was an encourager to the timid and fearful.
Michael helped others to grow by stretching from where they were, to where they could go.
Michael had his own motto for life, “It’s This Lifestyle!”
Michael dearly loved his little brother, Gabriel Mateo, who reached a part of his heart that stayed hidden from others.
Michael left our world half way through his “Mega Trip,” just 15 days after his 23rd birthday. His life in this world was ended by an unidentified assailant on April 1, 2015, in Honduras. He had been visiting the high school host family he had lived with during the summer of 2008 while part of the Amigos de Las Americas Program. Michael had visited the family five more times after that summer. The Marquez family considered him one of their own and treated him as such. He spent many days on their coffee farm where the two brothers, their wives, children and their parents all lived and worked. Maria Marquez and her daughter, Silvia, were especially close to Michael and he considered himself Godfather to Silvia’s 4-year-old daughter, a term and role he enjoyed immensely.
Michael is survived by his father and mother, Mike and Lauri Heraty, his brother, Gabriel Mateo Guevara Heraty; on his mother’s side by Grandmother Joyce Hertaus, Uncle Jeff Mark and Aunt Anne, Uncle Brian Mark and Aunt Sue, Uncle Corey Otto and Aunt Julie, Uncle Michael Mark, cousins Danny and Roza Mark, Andy Mark, Leah Mark and Christian Moreno, David Mark, Marissa Mark, Lauren, Blake and Mya Otto.
On his father’s side by Uncle Dave Porter and Aunt Christine, Uncle Sean Heraty and Aunt Dawn, cousins, Patrick and Michelle Freemyers, Christopher and Susan Freemyers, Kevin Heraty and Katelyn Heraty. Michael was preceded by grandparents Richard Mark, John Michael Heraty and Gladys Heraty.
And in Honduras, the Marquez family, who loved Michael as one of their own.
His friends met and made during his short life and his extensive travels — too numerous to count, each of significance to Michael and to us — we are blessed.
A Celebration of the Life of Michael Heraty will be held on Sunday, April 19, from 4 to 6:30 p.m. at The Lodge at Keyah Grande in Pagosa Springs.
Friends of Michael and his family are invited to come and share in the memories of his life.
In honor of Michael’s passion for the Spanish language and all things Latin, his family is establishing a scholarship fund made available to any student demonstrating the desire to learn Spanish. This scholarship will be awarded beginning with this graduating class of 2015 to a high school senior both at Brophy College Prep and Pagosa Springs High School who wants to further their education through additional studies or an immersion trip to a Latin country. Exact details regarding potential amounts and application process will be released by the end of April. Donations can be made at Bank of the San Juans in Pagosa Springs in an account established as “Michael Heraty Memorial Spanish Scholarship Fund” or online using this link: http://www.gofundme.com/MichaelHeraty.