Michael Liles

Obituary of Michael Liles


Family and friends are mourning the loss of a beloved husband, father and dear friend. Michael Liles passed away, unexpectedly but peacefully, this past Sunday. He would have celebrated his 77th birthday in August.


Michael was born in Leavenworth, Kansas and moved with his family to Washington and Oregon before ultimately settling in the San Francisco Bay Area at the age of 8. His parents, Bob and Violet, and grandmother Jennie took Michael and his siblings Jim and Merrilee, for an idyllic two-week camping trip near the McCloud River each summer, a favorite memory of his childhood. 


He graduated from Ygnacio Valley High School in 1964 with the distinction of being voted “Best Dressed” his senior year which gives his family a little chuckle, as he was not fond of trending fashion, always looking sharp in his button-down shirts, Levi’s 501s and Birkenstocks.


Mike attended UC Berkeley during the Viet Nam war protests, an enigmatic time, graduating with a degree in Marine Biology. He spent part of his senior year at the Bodega Marine Laboratory, living in his Volkswagen van.


Shortly after graduating, Michael started his real estate career, which spanned over fifty years and brought him to Santa Cruz County. He combined his interests in woodworking and California history to restore two beautiful historic homes in the area. 


Michael was an accomplished photographer, scuba diver, skier, river rafter and mountain biker who, in his later years, was happiest in the water, either abalone diving or snorkeling over a coral reef. He spent many happy years as a volunteer docent at UCSC’s Long Marine Lab. He was also a lifelong fan of the San Francisco Giants and 49ers, dating back to Candlestick Park and Kezar Stadium.


Michael leaves behind his wife, Ki, his sister and best friend, Merrilee (Dan), four children - Dave (Kaira), Michelle, Kevin (Sara) and Chelsea (Brian), grandchildren Katie, Eli, Alexandra, Savannah, Jonathan and Anni as well as numerous nieces, nephews and their children who he loved very much. He will be remembered as a fun-loving, kind man with a gentle soul (unless you parked in front of his house) who loved a good conversation about astronomy, evolution or history.


We’ll miss him with all our hearts.


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