Micael Merrifield dies after heart attack

Micael Merrifield (Photo Courtesy of Saddleback College )

Chelsea Jarrell

Micael Merrifield, a Saddleback College instructor and friend of many, passed away from a sudden heart attack Tuesday night.

“Micael will be remembered for his insatiable curiosity, boundless energy, and ability to capture the imagination of students,” said Saddleback College President Tod Burnett in a campus-wide email. 

With a profound love for tribal anthropology, Merrifield worked for many years with the Juaneño Band of Mission Indians, Acjachemem Nation, helping them in their fight for federal recognition.

“He was so passionate about helping my tribe, learning the history and knowing the culture. He actually even became an adopted member of our tribe,” Sherrie Yorba of the Acjachemem Nation said. Yorba’s mother,  a good friend of Merrifield, died nearly a year ago.

“Our members are mourning his passing and we really feel a loss of a friend and mentor. My heart is broken but I have peace knowing my mom welcomed him with open arms,” Yorba said.

Traveling and taking students on study abroad programs brought Merrifield great happiness. Former student Wade Kubat mentions these experiences in a memorial piece written shortly after Merrifield’s death, “The man took annual trips to either Ireland, Mexico, or Cuba with students, paying travel bills for those who backed out or couldn’t otherwise afford to go (probably even picked up the tab at the pub).”

Beside these acclaimed trips, Kubat brings to light other honorable moments students remember with their former instructor, “He taught a Mexican student how to roll their R’s, how he used to have a drink and a chat with them after night classes…talked course material as well as personal opinion.”

Merrifield has been a passionate and active member at the college since 1977 when he started the Learning Assistance Program. He was an instructor in the Anthropology and Behavioral Sciences Department and served as a member on the Academic Senate Committee and Faculty Association.

“I took Merrifield’s magic, witchcraft and religion class. He was very outspoken for being faculty-that was very important for him,” said former Saddleback student Joey Coburn. “He told us about when he used to be in the military and he was stationed in Algeria. He was a great conversationalist.”

Micael Merrifield’s memorial service will be at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, October 8 at Mission Viejo Country Club. 

Address of memorial:

26200 Country Club Dr.

Mission Viejo, 92691

Micael Merrifield (Photo provided by Claire Cesareo)

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