Michaelene Smith Pendleton [Courtesy photo]

Michaelene Smith Pendleton died in the early morning hours of Jan. 21. In her final days and hours she had many caring friends and the kind nurses of Grand County Hospice at her side.

Pendleton was born in New Albany, Illinois, on May 15, 1946, to Mary Jeanne Smith and Charles Thomas Pendleton.

Pendleton’s dad was a circus/carnival performer — most notably a knife thrower, with Jeanne a part of his act. He was also a cook, Greyhound bus driver and all-around gypsy. In the summer of 1950 they operated the trading post at Marble Canyon. By the time she was five she had traveled across the country several times and could read a map.

Pendleton’s parents divorced in 1952. Jeanne married a man who worked in the oilfields and once again they moved often, to Texas, Alaska, Arizona, California, New Mexico and then Moab for the first time in 1954, where they lived in the Shady Rest Trailer Park. At another time living in Moab, she attended Grand County High School until the family moved back to Alaska.

At the age of 16, she took charge of her own life and moved from Alaska to Illinois where she graduated from New Albany High School in 1964. At her mother’s urging, she returned to Fairbanks and attended the University of Alaska-Fairbanks where she graduated in 1972 with a bachelor of arts in psychology. From 1969 until she graduated, she managed the UAF psychology lab, maintaining records and the animal-breeding program, where she spent her time assisting with experiments. She also edited the university’s award winning newspaper from 1969-70.

Pendleton was a member of the Fairbanks Sports Car Club, where she edited the club’s newsletter and raced cars. One of her prized possessions was a Lotus Europa that she owned for 30 years.

As a young adult, Pendleton continued the restless, gypsy life she was used to by traveling all over the U.S. She made her first trip to Europe in the summer of 1972.

Pendleton worked at Four Corners Community Behavioral Health in Moab from 1977-79 as a counselor.

Pendleton was involved with Moab Community Theater as director, actor, makeup artist and stagehand. She volunteered at KZMU Community Radio/ Moab Public Radio for many years. She was also a volunteer for the Moab Folk Festival since almost the beginning.

She was the public information specialist for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Information Office in Moab from 1982-88 during the time when a nuclear waste repository was being considered for the area.

She was the contest organizer for the “World’s Most Scenic Dump” contest 1986-87. She was a member of the Grand County Board of Adjustment 1983-87. In 1989, she was appointed the director of the Grand County Convention Bureau.

From 1983-88 Pendleton owned Communications, Etc. She offered consulting and production services for Canyonlands Natural History Association, the National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management. She produced a tourist newspaper, hiking guides, wildlife brochures, geologic maps and publicity for special events. Her company also offered graphics, writing, editing, market surveys, conference facilitation and political campaign management for individual and business clients.

Pendleton attended the University of Utah in 1988-89 where she pursued graduate work in public information/public relations.

Pendleton and her mother Jeanne were the owners of The Westwood Guest House in Moab from 1991 until 1994. When the business was sold, they fulfilled a dream by traveling to Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales and Russia. This trip was a highlight of both their lives and they talked many times of returning to Ireland.

Pendleton and Jeanne opened the Lavender Lizard Bead store in the late 1990s where they made many new friends and pursued their artistic passion with both beads and gourds.

Jeanne died in 2000 and Pendleton closed the bead store a few months later. In the following years she acquired two cats — Sweetie Pie Meatloaf and The Big Guy — who became her family. She loved her cats and her last thoughts were about their care.

Pendleton lived a full and interesting life. She expressed that in her own words, written in 2017:

When I look over my life and I realize that most of my plans and dreams never came to pass, and never will come to pass now, I go into a Slough of Despond. I started keeping a list of the things I have done. This is my real resume:

I’ve seen and heard the Northern Lights. I’ve made earrings from nuggets I panned.

I saw Carlos Montoya in person from the second row; saw Janis Joplin, who may have been physically present but was somewhere else. I saw The Doors from backstage at the Odeon.

I watched the sun go down over Galway Bay and I’ve stood within the ring at Stonehenge. I’ve been to New Grange and felt the spirits, the same ones that live in the Yew tree in the Druid’s Grove at Blarney Castle. I’ve seen the mountains of the Dark Island and watched the fog roll in over the harbor at Stornaway.

I’ve seen my family’s cemetery at Smith’s Campground, in the misty knobs and hollows north of the Ohio River.

I’ve heard 12-cylinder Ferraris on the back straight at Watkins Glen. I’ve stood behind the guardrail at the Esses on a chilly Sunday morning at Le Mans. I’ve driven a car at 165 mph.

I know how to dress out a deer, or if forced, a caribou or moose. I have been within 20 feet of an Alaskan brown bear with her two cubs with nothing between me and her but a berry patch. I can skin a rattlesnake. I can cook a chicken dinner starting with a live chicken.

I’ve seen Mt. McKinley shrug off the clouds and rise up and up until it becomes the sky. I’ve stood in the breath of the Matanuska Glacier. I’ve seen Mt. Spur, Mt. Redoubt and Mt. Iliamna all smoking at the same time.

I’ve eaten fresh raw shrimp from the deck of a fishing boat in Jackaloff Bay.

I’ve driven the Alcan nine times.

I’ve seen a white moose.

I’ve canned tomatoes with my grandmother and sweated at the wringer washer.

I’ve seen the dogwood bloom in Indiana and the fireweed bloom in Alaska.

I’ve eaten garlic sausage and hard-boiled eggs and dill pickles and dropped peanut shells on the floor at the Howling Dog Saloon. I’ve eaten sausage and hard-boiled eggs and pickles at the tiny German food kiosk outside the Moscow Sports Arena even though everyone said the sausage was made from cats.

I’ve seen Lenin.

I’ve carried a concealed weapon. I’ve ridden on a cattle drive on a horse that knew what it was doing.

I’ve played electric bass and sung in cheap taverns. I’ve danced all night.

I’ve seen the green flash at sunset below tropical clouds stacked pink on gray.

I’ve heard Big Ben.

I implanted sensors in rat brains. I’ve cut thin sections for stereotaxic study.

I’ve been made love to in foreign languages.

I’ve had fiction published in at least three languages.

I’ve been a night rover security guard at a uranium mill and breathed the dust.

I’ve sat on the Alaska Pipeline.

I’ve seen the black earth of Mother Russia; seen White Nights in Alaska, Russia and Scotland. I’ve been on Russian television.

I know all the words to “Canadian Road Trilogy.”

I’ve trekked five miles through muskeg and gone in over my knees in breakup mud.

I’ve felt the exhilaration of a Richter scale 6 earthquake.

I’ve stood in Red Square; boated on the Neva in St. Petersburg; been overcharged by a cabbie in Paris.

I’ve heard the evening piper walk the battlements of Edinburgh Castle and seen Culloden where Scotland died.

I’ve seen upstate New York in autumn. I’ve seen the L&N coal trains on a damp Kentucky morning.

I can tell you the year and state in which Mickey Mantle was born.

I’ve seen black and white water fountains.

I’ve seen a copperhead asleep on a log.

I’ve heard wolves howl at night.

I’ve been stranded on the road at minus 72 degrees.

I’ve seen “Swan Lake” in Moscow.

I’ve heard people speaking in tongues in east Texas.

I’ve watched a hurricane roll over Houston.

I’ve seen ravens dancing on air currents.

I’ve crossed the Irish Channel on a ferry in a force 5 gale.

I’ve seen Orcas play.

My acting has been reviewed in Variety.

I’ve climbed to Delicate Arch in the full moon.

Pendleton loved words. Her writings consume reams of paper and multiple notebooks. She wrote science fiction, historical fiction, research papers, hiking and trail guides. She co-wrote the book “Canyon Country Prehistoric Indians – Their Cultures, Ruins, Artifacts and Rock Art” (1979) with Fran Barnes. She wrote various articles for newspapers and magazines. She wrote about her travels, her experiences and her life story, titled “The Curse of the Gypsies – a Restless Life.”

We love you Pendleton and we will miss you.

Thank you to Grand County Hospice and Moab Regional Hospital.

A celebration/memorial is being planned for mid-May in Moab.