Michele Ann Duguay passed away at home in Napa, on April 22, 2018, Earth Day. She was 70. She leaves behind her husband of 45 years, Michael Duguay; her children, Brian Duguay (Esther), Amy Duguay, and Joel Duguay (Shannon); her darling grandchildren, Carson Jude Duguay and Aliyah Michele Duguay; her siblings Suzette Perpall, Richard Trujillo, Annette “Zoe” Trujillo, and Patricia Allen. Michele was also fortunate to have a cousin so close to her heart that she was more like a twin sister, Carol Wheeler of Grass Valley. And fortunate for everlasting close friends like Kim Wildman of Napa, who were there to constantly fill her heart with joy. She was blessed by many brothers- and sisters-in-law, cousins, nieces and nephews, grand and great nieces and nephews, blended family members, and friends.
Michele was born on May 10, 1947, in Napa CA to Max and Yvonne Trujillo. She was the second of six children. She attended St. John’s Catholic School and Napa High School, before enrolling in Providence School of Nursing in Oakland. She made many lifelong friends through nursing school, including Beth Lincoln of St. Helena. On the day they met, Michele suggested they should be roommates as they were already being awarded identical Napa County Women’s Medical Auxiliary Scholarships – Michele was the Napa recipient, and Beth was the St. Helena recipient. In Michele’s world, the stars had aligned, and they’d be fast friends since they already had at least one thing in common – the rest is history! Michele approached her life goals with aplomb. She knew from the early age of five that she wanted to be a registered nurse like her cousin Bernadette Defilippis, and in 1969, as her graduating class’ vice president, she did. She knew she wanted to live in her ideal paradise, Oahu, Hawaii after nursing school, and on a whim, before even accepting a job offer, she did. She knew she wanted to work at the best children’s hospital in the world, so she moved to Boston, and worked in the burn unit of Boston Children’s Hospital – one of the most emotionally taxing, but meaningful nursing experiences of her life. While in Boston, Michele met her life partner, Michael “Mike” Duguay, who was from Maine, but attended college at Boston’s Suffolk University. Upon Mike’s graduation, they decided to move to Napa, where they got married, and later had three children. Her career in nursing took her in many varied directions, but most notably was a long-term contract by the County of Napa to provide blood drawing services for drug and alcohol screenings, and her work as a nurse at the San Francisco City and County Jail.
After taking the trip of a lifetime with her good friend Lavon Sanza of Napa to Chiang Rai, Thailand, Michele developed a deep bond with elephants. As famed elephant conservationist Dame Daphne Sheldrick said, “You have to love them because an elephant can read your heart.” That’s exactly why people loved Michele – she had an empathetic heart, and instinctively knew how to take care of her friends, family, and patients. Like the elephants frolicking at play in the water, Michele never lost her sense of exuberant childlike joy and wonderment at the world around her, in fact, while in Thailand, she asked the trainers if they could extend their playtime with the elephants for “just a little longer…” that was only five years ago. Her children remember how much fun she was – she’d tell them to get their swimsuits on after bedtime on a school night, turn the pool light on, and under the teal glow of the water she’d swim, and let out her characteristic powerful laugh…becoming one with them. The way she could make them feel was always magical!
Michele will be remembered as living a vibrant, bold, and courageous life. She was a hero to many, especially her daughter, who watched Michele breathe life back into her baby brother Joel when he nearly drowned at 18 months old. Even while sick, she’d often be found singing and dancing to music, and was looking forward to the Bruno Mars concert at Bottle Rock this year. Her steadfast and loving caretakers Aurora and Aloha often told stories of how happy Michele made them feel, and they returned the favor 1000-fold. Over the last few years, Mike and Michele spent every summer enjoying their East Coast family and friends, at the “camp” on Bear Pond in Hartford, Maine. They had lobstah’ cookouts, picked wild blueberries and raspberries, and enjoyed the quiet calm of the lake, while taking in daily doses of colorful sunsets as medicine. Mike and Michele truly lived out their marriage vows, “in sickness and in health,” and their faith in something higher will bring them eternal peace. In death as in life, Michele’s family finds peace that she will seek out and bring joy to those who have passed before her; her beloved parents, grandparents, several aunts and uncles, her baby sister Mary, loving nephew Paul, and best friend in life and beyond, Judie.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital or The American Lung Association. And in honor of Earth Day, please plant a tree or flower in a place that brings you joy in remembrance of Michele. A rosary will be held on Thursday, May 10, at 1pm at Tulocay Chapel. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, May 12, at 10am at St. Apollinaris Church, followed by a burial at Tulocay cemetery, and a reception at Mike and Michele’s home in Napa.