Michael Lee Ireland

Michael Lee Ireland, a beloved father and husband, who taught his community the value of hard work and honesty, died peacefully on July 2, surrounded by his family. He was 73.

Born in Hanford, California, Michael spent most of his life in the Kern Valley. He loved to fish for crappie in Lake Isabella, explore the Greenhorn Mountains for elderberries, and search for treasures with his metal detector. Michael was a leader in his church and devoted to his wife of 20 years Devorah.

To many, Michael, often known as Mike, was one of the friendliest people in any room. He loved to tell stories about his adventures and life experiences, often peppered with his catchphrases. It was not uncommon for Mike to hand you a slice of his fresh homemade bread with dill butter and say, “That will set you free.”

Many knew Michael for his unparalleled work ethic. Until his death, he was still trying to scale roofs, chop wood, and fix electrical wiring. At his home in Wofford Heights, Michael remodeled the kitchen, built a deck, and installed French doors. A man devoted to Bible scripture, he often quoted Genesis to his son, Aaron Ireland, saying, “By the sweat of your brow, you will eat your food.”

After high school, Michael attended Bakersfield College before launching into a career with the Porterville Police Department. He later worked as a foreman for Waterman Industries and as the founding paster of Landmark Missionary Baptist Church in Lake Isabella. Michael ended his career with over a decade of service as a juvenile corrections officer at Camp Owen in Kernville, where he counseled youth, and worked in the kitchen and farm. It was a homecoming for Michael, who spent time at Camp Owen as a teenager. His initials are inscribed on a brick he laid at Camp Owen during his time there as a kid. As an adult overseeing youth, he would often point to it and tell them that he was once in their shoes.

Michael is survived by his siblings: Jim Ireland, Sandy Ireland, Janette Ireland, and Mary Ireland; niece Tina Payton; nephews David Vaughn and Steven Vaughn; grandchildren Haley Ireland, Kelly Simpson Ireland, Ella Fay Yaniv, and Noah Yaniv; daughter-in-law Nellie Ireland; son-in-law Shoham Yaniv; son Aaron Ireland; stepson Eli Kamisher; stepdaughter Rachelle Pegg; and wife Devorah Kamisher.

Michael’s legacy is one of love, laughter, dedication, and an unwavering spirit. He will be deeply missed by all who knew him.