“Courage: that is the word by which I guide myself, the star by which I steer.” by Frank Delaney from Tipperary.
Our brother Michael was a courageous man. After reading his life experiences, one is sure to agree. Born March 29, 1939, Michael was the first son and second child of Willis and Alyce Moriarty.
Growing up in Billings, he attended Fratt Memorial Parochial School and graduated from Billings Central Catholic High School.
In Michael’s own written words he recounted the following. “I started my income at 13 years old, bike delivering accounting books, washing commercial windows, working in Moriarty's Religious Art and Gift Shop (my mother's), selling newspapers on the streets of Billings, and serving many Catholic Latin Masses as an altar boy for ten years or more. I constantly worked my way through college. At one time I held three separate jobs at once (law clerk, bartender and dishwasher) and carried a full class load at St. Thomas College. Eventually, I worked through two college degrees, BA in English/History and a Masters in Economics and also two years in the Peace Corps in Liberia, six years in the U.S. Army (Hon. Discharge) while holding firm to my decent principles.”
Michael was employed as a Developer of Low Income Housing in Detroit, MI, worked with Housing Development in Columbia, SC, was an Instructor of Economics at both MSU-Billings and Rocky Mountain College and was a Land Broker for the Elderly Housing Development in Portland, Oregon.
Michael’s lifelong dream was to live within warm climates. Determined to live this dream, he built his own ocean going 32 foot sailboat and circumnavigated the globe single-handedly. Starting with a manufactured hull in California during the 1970's, the sailboat was completed and christened, Tir Tairngire (Promised Land). The name depicts an Irish mythological realm of everlasting youth, beauty, health, abundance and joy. During his sixteen years at sea, Michael shared stories of accidentally swimming with salt water crocodiles and entering the perils of the Bermuda Triangle. He described the disconcerting effects of the “Saint Elmo's Fire” phenomenon. He encountered drug running pirates who pursued him for three days. In another adventure he faced gale force winds that would repeatedly send ocean waves towering and crashing over his boat sending it to the ocean depths. In order to survive he tied himself to his bunk to avoid being thrashed about his cabin. Sailing was in his blood like his Irish ancestors. Fortunately, it wasn't always survival mode for Michael. He loved and enjoyed the peace and serenity of the ocean His cabin was filled with literary delights by Charles Dickens, John Steinbeck, C.S. Lewis and William Faulkner to mention a few. While at port with other yachtsmen, he exchanged books. His collection grew. To Michael’s liking, interferences did not exist; no television, only a shortwave radio for emergencies. Michael sailed around the world using a sextant, charts/maps and the stars as did the ancient mariners before him. GPS was not known in his early sailing years.
In December, 2016, he chose to retire from sailing. He planned to settle near family in Montana and purchase a house with a lot large enough to store his beloved sailboat, Tir, his trusted companion that gave him everlasting joy and protection throughout the years. Yes, a sailor's love is his boat.
He was preceded in death by his parents and a nephew, Jeff Larson.
Michael is survived by siblings, Kathryn (Gene) Busch [Heather, Kurt (Martha) Kathryn, Scott (Brenda) Joey, Garrett, Carissa], Diann (Roger) Ogren [Jon (Gina) Austin, Alexandra], Nelson, Aaron and Macey McLees, Deirdre (John) Schafnitz [Bridgette Larson (Corey Ewing)], Peg (Mark) Frey [Jay Ellis, (Jen Huff), Brooke, Haley, Avery] and Padraic (Kristin) Moriarty, Hope, Ceili; cousins, Trace (Sharon) Reynolds and Virginia Engelhard; lifelong friend, Mike Keating.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 20, at Dahl Funeral Chapel with inurnment to follow in Holy Cross Cemetery.
Memories and condolences may be shared with the family at www.dahlfuneralchapel.com.