Michelle R. Harris of Middleton, formerly of Lynnfield, passed away peacefully surrounded by her loving family on April 7, 2021 at the age of 60 from metastatic cancer. She was born in Beverly, and grew up in Marblehead.
She is survived by her devoted husband Richard Sokolow, her daughters Amy and Janna Sokolow, her mother Jeanne Harris of Peabody, her sisters Tammy Harris of Framingham and Judy (Harris) Logan and husband Glenn of Belmont, her brother Robert Harris and wife Lydia of Belmont, and 14 nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her father David Sidney Harris.
Growing up, Michelle spent countless hours at Preston Beach in Marblehead with family and friends. She attended Camp Yavneh in Northwood, N.H., and performed in the Marblehead High School chorus and the musical Oliver!
After graduating near the top of her class, she attended Tufts University, where she earned a B.A. in economics. She later earned an MBA from Boston University. She was a lifelong learner, and recently took classes at Tufts’ Osher Institute.
In 1985-86, Michelle lived and worked in Israel, which sparked a deep passion for travel. Michelle’s many adventures included trips to Europe, the Caribbean, Canada and throughout the U.S. Her traveling companions were numerous, including her husband and daughters, siblings and cousins, and many friends.
Although Michelle and her future husband Rich grew up just blocks from one another in Marblehead, sang in their high school chorus together and both attended Tufts University, it wasn’t until 1989 when they finally connected at a dance for young Jewish professionals at the Roxy Club on Tremont Street in Boston, igniting a flame that led to 30 joyous years of marriage.
The birth of their two daughters in 1996 and 1998 marked the next great chapter in Michelle’s life. She reveled in her girls’ many musical performances and achievements from their earliest years through college. The fact that she, Rich, Amy and Janna are all graduates of Tufts University is a particular point of pride for Michelle and her family. Seeing her daughters launch their careers gave Michelle great satisfaction.
Michelle had a successful 30-year career as a marketing professional for many leading financial and consulting companies including Analysis Group, Wellington Management, DRI/McGraw-Hill and Applied Marketing Science. In recent years, she worked as a freelance writer and was a correspondent at the Jewish Journal newspaper. She also volunteered at organizations including Temple Tiferet Shalom, Temple Ner Tamid and the JCC. Most recently, she cherished the opportunity to teach English as a second language to new immigrants in Salem through Catholic Charities.
Michelle always had a love of words, and she enjoyed challenging her family and friends to games of Scrabble and Words with Friends. Completing the New York Times Spelling Bee and achieving genius status was a near daily occurrence! She was a fitness fanatic, and particularly enjoyed swimming laps at the pool and taking classes in yoga, strength training, and her favorite, Zumba! She was often at the gym six days a week, sometimes twice a day.
Michelle was quietly funny, loved planning adventures with her friends and was always the first and last on the dance floor. She was close with her three siblings, and also formed many cherished friendships throughout her life. She enjoyed playing Mahjong, cuddling with her little dog Izzy, spending time at her family’s second home in St. Petersburg, Fla. with family and friends and walking around Lake Quannapowitt in Wakefield. She always made time for a great slice of pizza, a cosmo or a scoop of Richardson’s coffee almond fudge ice cream. Michelle also had a great appreciation for the arts, and frequented museums and art galleries, live theater performances and Bruce Springsteen concerts. In the past year, she became an accomplished crafter, creating beautiful mosaic tiled mirrors that she sold online and gave out as treasured gifts.
In 2014, Michelle was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and received a double-lung transplant at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The lifesaving procedure granted Michelle many wonderful and productive years. Michelle and her family are forever grateful to the UPMC transplant team, the love and support of all who visited her during that time, and especially for the generosity of her organ donor and family who gave Michelle the gift of life. Michelle will always be remembered for her bravery, grace and positivity despite her health issues.
Michelle’s final act was one of tikkun olam and a reflection of her generous and caring nature. In 2020, she and her husband established the Richard Sokolow and Michelle Harris Charitable Fund to make grants and donations to Michelle’s and her family’s favorite causes, which Rich, Amy and Janna will administer on an annual basis for years to come.
Funeral services for Michelle will be held privately. In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory may be made to the United Network for Organ Sharing, a non-profit that manages the nation’s organ transplant system and connects organ donors to patients in need of a lifesaving transplant.
For more information or to register in the online guestbook, please visit stanetskyhymansonsalem.com.