January 18, 1954 - June 23, 2013
Michelle Irene Pauly, professional violinist, prosecutor, and competitive rower, passed away in Medford, Ore., Sunday, June 23, 2013, after a two-year journey with brain cancer.
She was born in Milwaukee, Wis. January 18, 1954, to Leonard and Felice Pauly. At Walker Elementary School she discovered violin at the age of eight, and by the time she reached Nathan Hale High School, she was Concertmaster and had won the state solo and ensemble competitions. Later she earned a degree in violin performance with distinction at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She also earned a Master's degree in violin performance at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and worked toward a DMA in music at the University of Arizona and the University of Oregon, where she won the concerto competition and the Ruth Lorraine Close Award.
In 1991 Michelle graduated from the University of Oregon Law School and began a career in prosecution that took her to The Dalles, Klamath Falls, Salem, and ultimately Medford, where until 2011 she served as Jackson County Deputy District Attorney.
Her careers in music and law allowed her to pursue perfection in disparate realms that shared the pressures of high-stakes performance, the need for discipline, the challenge of combining art with logic, and the satisfactions of serving the public.
As a prosecutor, she worked with police officers and victims to seek justice, especially in child abuse cases. She was also a member of the International Association of Arson Investigators.
As a violinist, she performed with over 20 orchestras and ensembles, including the Orquesta Sinfonica de Veracruz, Mexico; the Symphony Orchestras of Tucson and Eugene, where she served in both as Principal Second Violin; The Rogue Valley Symphony, where she was Concertmaster; and the Eugene Opera Orchestra, where she was Concertmaster from 1984 until 2011. Over the years she performed with over 20 conductors, including Marin Alsop, Helmuth Rilling, Zubin Mehta, and Eugene Ormandy. She also performed as a backup musician for acts as diverse as Mannheim Steamroller and Donna Summer.
Beyond the courtroom and the stage, she traveled extensively: to Poland, where she could use the Polish she had studied; throughout the U.S.; and to Sweden, Great Britain, Mexico, Turkey, Greece, Italy, the Czech Republic, Bonaire, Grenada, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia. At home she gained a reputation as a gourmet cook, especially for her pastries, candies, and cheesecakes, having studied pastry making at Tante Marie's Cooking School in San Francisco.
In 2006 she discovered a new passion: rowing. She joined the Ashland Rowing Club, where she rowed with the Women's Racing Team, which participated in regattas, including the Portland, Ore., Row for the Cure (where she was the top fundraiser three years in a row); the Long Beach Nationals; and the San Diego Crew Classic.
Even after her diagnosis with brain cancer in September of 2011, she traveled to see friends and family; she performed as a violinist with the Jefferson Baroque Orchestra in Medford; and she participated in the regional rowing competition in Seattle. She continues to be an inspiration to friends, family, and strangers, not only for these achievements, but for her ability to live life fully--with honesty, generosity, love, and humor--whatever challenges might appear.
Michelle is survived by her sister, Annmarie Utroska (m. Daniel), of Chicago, Ill.; her brother, David Pauly (m. Renee Couture), of New Berlin, Wis.; and her partner since 1992, James Harper, of Medford.
Donations in her memory can be made to the Peter Britt Festival's Classical Annual Fund at 541-690-3856, which supports the Peter Britt Classical Festival, where Michelle and Jim met in the summer of 1992.