Golden, Colorado — Michelle’s journey began on Dec. 23, 1974, in Portland, Oregon. Orphaned at two when her parents, Bob and Mary Jean Lorang, died in a car accident, Michelle was adopted by her uncle and aunt, Mike and Dianne Lorang, who later gave her siblings, brother Bart and sister Liz, whom she was always grateful to have.
During high school in Bozeman, Montana, she lettered in marching band, qualified for nationals in synchronized swimming, and worked as a lifeguard. Her desire to be a marine biologist took her to the University of Delaware, where she got a dream internship at the National Aquarium in Baltimore. Later, her passion for French found her studying at the Sorbonne in Paris for a semester. Her husband, Paul Nichterlein, visited her there and proposed at the Eiffel Tower.
They married on July 20, 1999, on Kauai, Hawaii, and settled in Golden, Colorado, spending many weekends in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. After much anticipation, Michelle and Paul traveled to China to adopt their daughter, Maya, in June 2007. Their son, Ty, came to them from South Korea in August 2009, shortly after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her children became her life, and she did everything in her power to make sure they felt loved and would have a good future.
Michelle taught French at Creighton Middle School in Lakewood, Colorado, for 13 years. During her last two years at the school, she wrote and taught the French curriculum for Jefferson Virtual Academy. She worked only online the last year of her life, giving herself more time to spend with family and friends, and to cross things off her “living list.” While teaching, she earned a master’s degree in English as a second language and was the first PTO president at her children’s charter school.
She became an excellent vegan cook for her health, although…