Aug 3, 1946 - Sept 13, 2018 San Jose
Christine Michaels McFarlane died on September 13, 2018, surrounded by family, after a heroic battle against multiple myeloma.
Born in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, England on August 3, 1946, Christine was the first of six children of U.S.Army Air Force Captain Willard L. Michaels and his British bride, Jean Twiddy. She came to the US at the age of three months, and the family lived in Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, Illinois and Washington, where she finished high school in the town of Moses Lake. Her parents relocated to San Jose in 1966, while she began attending Colorado Women’s College. When her father died suddenly in 1967, she moved to San Jose to help her mother with her five younger siblings.
Christine met Gene McFarlane in Colorado, and they were married in San Jose in 1968. Their son, Brandon, was born in 1973. Brandon possesses the same humor and wit so beloved in his mother and was a great source of pride to his parents. Gene passed away in October 2017, in their fiftieth year of marriage.
Christine had a long and distinguished career with California Water Service, beginning as an administrative assistant in 1969. Her hiring manager shared his recollection that on the day she started at Cal Water, she came to work wearing white gloves; an example of both the regard she held for her work and of the etiquette she epitomized in all aspects of her life. Christine took a brief maternity leave when Brandon was born, but returned to Cal Water in 1976 to begin a remarkable career in Human Resources. Working initially in the administration of benefits, she rose to the position of Assistant to the HR Director, taking over as Director in 1991. Named an Officer of the company in 1996, she served as Vice President of Human Resources and later as Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer, the title she held upon her retirement in 2012. Apart from her rapid professional advancement, Christine left her mark on the employees of Cal Water in the form of her deep compassion for the complexities of their lives. It is a rare HR Director who flies to Hawaii and back in the same day to attend to a sensitive employee-related issue. She regularly visited employees in the hospital, attended their weddings and funerals, and gave her personal, as well as professional, attention to improving their lives in the context of their employment. Her accomplishments and dedication were recognized not just within Cal Water but more widely by the American Association of Business Women.
Christine is survived by the family to which she was devoted: her mother Jean Michaels Borst; her son Brandon, daughter-in-law Lydia and their son Evan. Brandon and Lydia are awaiting the birth of Evan’s younger brother in November. Christine was with all of her surviving siblings during her final days: Bill (Diane), Mike, Linda, and Robert (Debbie) Michaels, as well as her nephews Kevin, David, Justin and Robby and her niece Katie. She is deeply missed by all of her family including her puggle, Baxter.
A celebration of her life will be held at the Montalvo Center for the Arts on Sunday, October 21, 2018 from 1:00 to 4:00 PM.