Michele Birley


Michele Birley, 74, of Mossyrock, Wash., passed away Feb. 10, 2021, in Olympia, Wash.

She is survived by sons, Chad Rugh of Ellensburg, Wash., Matt Rugh of Sammamish, Wash., and Zak Rugh of Redmond, Wash.; her two sisters, Melody Bussey of Rathdrum, Idaho, and and Cindy Lee of Palmer, Alaska; as well as former husband and good friend, Rex Birley of Mossyrock, Wash.

Michele was born in Cashmere, Wash., Jan. 22, 1947. She graduated from high school in Anchorage, Alaska. After graduation, she moved to Ellensburg, Wash., where she married Paul Rugh. She earned her teaching certificate from Central Washington State College and spent several years as a substitute teacher, while raising their three boys. Michele was very active in her children’s schools and was a member of Junior Women as well as volunteering at the Ellensburg Crisis Line.

In 1982, Michele was hired to teach junior high school English and Social Studies at Mossrock, Wash. While at Mossyrock, she married Rex Birley and they enjoyed many years together socializing with family and friends.

Michele taught in the same classroom for over 25 years. Michele took pride in her teaching and was compassionate about helping all students, especially those who were struggling with problems outside the classroom. Over the years, many students commented about how Michele went the extra mile in helping them become successful adults. Michele was also an adjunct professor for Centralia College, teaching adult English classes in Morton, Wash.  

Michele was also the junior high volleyball coach and founded the Mossyrock Knowledge Bowl team, which always did well in county competitions. She was assistant outdoor education director and spent many hours with students at Cispus and Fort Flagler.  

Michele was a very vivacious and outgoing person who enjoyed meeting new people. She loved to read and was very interested in American history, especially the Civil War. She also loved to travel and over the years, she visited several Civil War sites on college sponsored tours. Her love of history and of talking with people, led her to volunteer at the Lewis County Historical Museum. Michele also loved cats and had three cats at the time of her passing.

Remembrances may be donations to either the Lewis County Historical Museum, 599 NW Front Way, Chehalis, WA 98532, or the Lewis County Animal Shelter, P.O. Box 367, Chehalis, WA 98532.      

A celebration of life will be planned for early June.