NEWBURYPORT - Michelle Bescos, 70, resident of Newburyport, formerly of Bluffton, SC and Kailua-Kona, HI, passed away peacefully on Sunday, March 7, 2021, surrounded by loved ones. Family will receive friends from 3-4:30pm on Saturday, March 27 at the Driscoll Funeral Home in Haverhill, MA. For guestbook, visit www.driscollcares.com
Michelle Hallenbeck Bescos was born and raised in Long Beach, CA to Dr. Walter and Mrs. Hilda Welton. She was the youngest of three children. She is survived by her children Pilar Bescos Brackett (Heather) of Exeter, NH and Chaun C. Bescos (Katie) of Bluffton, SC; her sister Lois Christescu (George) of Kamuela, HI and her brother Walter F. Welton Jr. (Susan) of Kailua-Kona, HI; three nieces Michelle (Anthony) Foster, Jennifer (Jeff) Grimes, and Ashley (Noah) Lake, two great-nephews Dakota and Aiden Grimes, and four grandchildren Evan, Sofia, Ben and Evie.
In 1968, Michelle graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach, CA and began her journey into the working world with wide-eyed wonder and a desire to make everything she touched better. A creative imagination, a positive-outlook, levity and kindness were some of her best traits. Michelle always made time to help families in her community. She brightened every event with her witty sense of humor and practical problem-solving nature.
With little post-secondary education but a substantial work ethic, Michelle held numerous support roles as she teamed up with ex-husband Barry Bescos (deceased) in running a waste-water treatment plant in American Samoa, before moving to Hawaii in the early 70s, where she took a job as an Avis rental car agent and assistant to her fishing captain husband. She quickly learned what it meant to toil and that not everything in life comes easily. During the 80s, with both rubber boots, she jumped into the new role of first-time farmer, hog and cattle rancher. While juggling 37 acres of farmland, and an on-site veggie stand, Michelle raised two children, helped to care for her aging parents, volunteered as Treasurer for the PTA and was an active member of her local church and Women’s Aglow chapter.
Michelle was always well loved and appreciated by her two and four-legged clients. Her love of animals evolved from farm-life into the domestic world when she and Barry, in 1988, moved their family to the northern part of the island to open a pet store. Although she and Barry went in different directions, Michelle, with the support of her children, sister Lois, and a few big-hearted and dedicated employees, continued to grow the pet store. As the economy shifted in the early 90s, so did her family and parenting responsibilities, forcing her to close the doors of Kamuela Pets. She was at a loss. Not knowing which way to go next, she put one foot in front of the other and did the next right thing to support her family. It wasn’t long before Michelle traded in her pet store uniform for dress clothes and heels. She left the long days of cleaning bird cages and fish tanks, stocking dog food and helping stray or abandoned pets find their forever homes, for dressing mannequins, creating window displays and guiding resort patrons to find just the right ensemble at the Hilton Waikoloa McInerney. Michelle found herself at yet another crossroads when the long-standing retailer began closing its stores she subsequently needed to find other employment.
The next few decades brought a deepening of Michelle’s faith. She was a prayer warrior at heart. She took the most inclusive and loving aspects of her religion, and taught her children to pray for wisdom during challenging life circumstances and to seek peace in the beauty of nature.
Following her own advice, Michelle looked to a power greater than herself to guide her to her next position. She became an instrument of peace and strength wherever she went; spending a number of years working with Child and Family Services, as a therapeutic foster-care coordinator and life skills and teen health workshop presenter for schools across West Hawaii.
She loved all children, but especially her own. She loved them “up to the sky,” as was her signature line anytime she wrote to them. Without a doubt, she was Pilar and Chaun’s biggest fan, and absolutely loved anytime her family could get together. There was never a dull moment. She was known for her silly antics, funny animal stories (sound effects included), or her spontaneous impression of Donald Duck. She was famous for planning trips to Disney or a cruise vacation, months or even years in advance. Michelle adored traveling and was always sharing photos or beautiful postcards of her voyages. It was her devotion to her children and the desire to see more of the United States, that eventually led her to cross the Pacific once more and move east to the South Carolina coast.
Michelle was an incredible woman who placed high value on believing the best about people, giving them a second chance and doing unto others as she would want to have done to her. The spirit of hospitality, in all its forms, was at Michelle’s core. She enjoyed touring people around her retirement community or the local area, wowing them with an historical anecdote or amusing them with an impromptu song or joke. She often donated her time or resources to Habitat for Humanity and numerous charities who supported children or animals. Residents in the Belfair golf community looked forward to her warm greeting and welcoming smile as they entered their clubhouse. It was there that Michelle began to form lasting relationships with many wonderful families and their pets. One thing led to another and pretty soon Michelle had so many requests for dog-sitting, that she started her own private pet care business, which she did for over 10 years. She took great satisfaction in providing the best care possible for her clients and their fur babies.
In 2017, Michelle’s family was shocked and deeply saddened when she was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia. Although her health began to decline, Michelle gracefully took the challenges that began to come her way and eventually allowed her family to care for her. She spent this last year and a half as a resident of Avita of Newburyport, a memory care community.
It is with deep grief but great respect that our family would like to extend our gratitude to the staff of Avita for caring for Michelle so beautifully. She truly found her comfort and happiness in her community and continued to bring smiles to all those she met. We are eternally grateful for your kindness and authenticity in preserving Michelle’s spirit and dignity, and for showing our family such compassion during this time. Our appreciation also goes out to the nurses from Compassus Hospice for giving Michelle such attentive care and for helping us to keep her peaceful and comfortable till the very end.
Celebration of Michelle's Life will be held on Satruday, March 27, in the Driscoll Funeral Home, 309 S. Main Street, Haverhill from 3:00 to 4:30 PM. Note to wear face coverings and social distancing measures will be in place. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the New Hampshire Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals at NHSPCA, P.O. Box 196, 104 Portsmouth Avenue, Stratham, NH 03885 in memory of Michelle H. Bescos. Arrangements by Driscoll Funeral Home, Haverhill. For guestbook, visit www.driscollcares.com
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