Helga Michel of Southold died March 13 after a long struggle with Parkinson’s disease. She was 89.
She was born April 14, 1924, in Berlin, Germany, and immigrated to the United States in 1928 after her father was invited to join her uncle in the management of the New Jersey Woolen Mills in Garfield, N.J. She graduated from Collegiate School in Passaic, N.J., and later attended Traphagen School of Design and Fairleigh Dickinson University. According to family, she studied voice with various prominent coaches and was a paid soloist in several large New Jersey churches.
Ms. Michel’s early career in retail was marked by the launch of a custom millinery shop in New Jersey before transitioning to a resident buying office in New York City and, later, a management position with Alexander’s department stores. According to family, she was widely known, both locally and among visitors from afar, as proprietor of the Middlemay Shop, a childrenswear retail business that she successfully ran for 20 years in downtown Southold.
Ms. Michel was a charter member of Cedar Beach Yacht Club, a past president of Paumanok Weavers Guild, past board member of The Horticulture Alliance of the Hamptons and devoted volunteer at Long House Reserve in East Hampton and at Hallockville Museum Farm in Riverhead. Family members said she was a master gardener, and that weaving, classical music and art were her chief interests.
Ms. Michel is survived by her husband, Charles; her daughters, Lisa, Suzanne and Heidi; her sons-in-law; four grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.
She donated her body to Stony Brook University Hospital to benefit medical teaching. The family plans to hold a “celebration of life” gathering at a later date, to be announced in The Suffolk Times.
Memorial donations may be made to East End Hospice, Community Action Southold Town, the North Fork Animal Welfare League or any charity of the donor’s choosing.