Michael Podesta died peacefully at Sentra Leigh Hospital in Norfolk, Virginia on Saturday, June 27th at about 5:20 in the evening. Michael was a widely known and well respected calligrapher and graphic designer. He selected texts from many sources, but favored passages from the Christian Bible. Michael’s faith and his work shared purpose, and he approached his profession as a ministry. His messages of faith and love and hope, thoughtfully considered and beautifully rendered, were testament to Michael’s abiding love and respect for the word of his God, and his generous impulse to share with the world the strength, joy, and spiritual sustenance these words provided. Michael is survived by his wife Anne, his step-mother Marion, his brothers Lawrence, Karl, and Christopher, his sisters Michelle, Sara, and Natalie, his sons Robert, Gregory, Alexander, Joshua, Alexander and Walter, his daughters Shelley and Gay, and a number grandchildren. A dear and longtime friend of Michael’s, Kate Germond, has worked for many years with Centurion, a non-profit organization that works to free innocent people who have been wrongfully convicted and incarcerated. In lieu of flowers, please consider a charitable donation in Michael’s honor to Centurion at 1000 Herrontown Rd, Princeton, NJ 08540 or at www.centurion.org.
The following remembrance was shared by Michael’s dear friend David Wade:
A beautiful soul has slipped its frail dressing and taken flight. My dear friend, Michael Podesta, passed away on Saturday. We were friends for 35 years, meeting first, as one must, at a craft show. Whether it was hours spent talking around the dining room table, or setting up and tearing down his display, or in his front yard examining his new garden and suddenly reciting “Grass” by Walt Whitman, or in the terrible early morning phone call sharing the loss of his beloved Kezziah, sharing time with Michael was always Communion. Grace was exchanged. Love imparted. He was an impressive looking man – tall, handsome – but the Voice! The sonorous baritone launching into the latest memorized verse or providing the audio version of one his works. I don’t know how many church-lady hearts he set aflutter with it, but I witnessed many swooning admirers over the years.
And he left us an amazing and inspired body of work. As a designer and calligrapher, Michael was an exquisite and exacting craftsman, shaping words out of the empty womb of the off-white page.
But if you knew Michael, you knew this: the gift was Michael himself. He was a luminous spirit. A unique blessing. Though time and tide wore him thin, the art of his life never diminished.
One final story. Sitting in our home one morning, Michael recounted a recent dream. He was standing before the Judgment Seat of Christ, awaiting the final verdict of his life. When the time arrived for his sentence to be announced, Jesus was suddenly at his side with his arm around his shoulders. “Michael,” Jesus said. “Why didn’t you go swimming more? You used to love to swim. You should have done that more.”
Today, I believe with all my heart, Michael is doing laps in waters that will never run dry.