Young Walnut Creek man found dead in Lafayette remembered as bringing joy and laughter to those around him

Family and friends of Michael McDowell are grieving the 26-year-old’s death, but are also celebrating him as the “master of the quirky one-liner” and for the happiness he brought to his son.
As I previously reported, McDowell was found January 20 in some bushes adjacent to a home in the 800 block of Moraga Road in Lafayette. He was already dead. Investigators say there were no signs of foul play, but that McDowell was known to have some health problems.
His obituary appears today in the Contra Costa Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. Here’s how it reads:
Michael Alexander McDowell May 19, 1984-Jan. 20, 2010
Resident of Walnut Creek Master of the quirky one-liner, goofy facial expressions and comedic-like behavior, Mike brought joy and laughter to those around him. Topping his personal chart of “favorite things” were basketball, the number 21, grasshopper pie, music, dancing and singing to his son – he was, indeed, a man of many talents and will be deeply missed.
Mike is survived by his son Cash; mother Karen McDowell of Walnut Creek; father Dave McDowell of Sandpoint, ID; sister Rebecca McDowell of Modesto; grandparents Richard & Joyce Devincenzi of Danville; Kate McDowell of Bonners Ferry, ID; and Alan & Monetta McDowell of Roseville; as well as numerous aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.
A Celebration of Life, open to extended family and friends, is planned for early spring. Updated information will be posted on Karen’s Facebook page. In lieu of flowers, donations to the following organizations would be greatly appreciated: Contra Costa Clubhouses, Inc.  or NAMI Contra Costa.

I’m familiar with NAMI Contra Costa: The National Alliance on Mental Illness, Contra Costa chapter. NAMI Contra Costa is a support and advocacy group for people with mental illness and their families. As I’ve written before, my husband suffers from a severe mental illness, but, fortunately, takes his medication, and is able to work and be a good husband and father–though it can be a daily struggle for him.

I had never heard of the Contra Costa Clubhouse Project. I checked out their website. Founded in 2008, it sounds like a wonderful, much needed service for people in our community who suffer from severe mental illnesses.  On the Clubhouse’s website it says: “In Contra Costa County alone, 10,000 people seek treatment annually for a severe mental illness. The services currently available in our county are inadequate to meet their needs.”

“The Clubhouse is a membership-based community where people living with persistent mental illness come to rebuild their lives. … The Clubhouse provides an accepting place to spend the day, valuable work to perform within the organization, opportunities to socialize with friends and co-workers, and access to employment within the wider community.”

Thanks to Mike McDowell’s family and friends for making me, at least, aware of this very valuable resource in our community, as a way of remembering the loved one they lost.

3 thoughts on “Young Walnut Creek man found dead in Lafayette remembered as bringing joy and laughter to those around him

  1. God, how depressing. Two years younger than me, with a son and now gone.

    Also, Soccer, that's pretty brave and touching for you to open up about such things on your very worthwhile blog. Good.


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