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Michelle “Mickey” Ilene Chorpash
Mickey was born in Los Angeles, CA, on November 3, 1957, to Carolyn and Lowell Chorpash. She was the second of five children, all born and raised in the Mar Vista area of Los Angeles. Mickey attended Venice High School, graduating in 1976.
Mickey had a strong maternal instinct from a young age, helping care for her younger twin brothers, born when she was just five years old. She would rush off to them any time she heard them crying to see what she could do to help.
As a girl she loved playing with dolls and began a life-long love of sewing, making clothes for her dolls with any scrap of fabric she could find. As her love for sewing grew, she started making costumes to sell to local kids around Halloween. In high school she entered a dress she designed and sewed herself in a fashion show, winning the first place ribbon.
In 1975, while still in high school, Mickey met Larry Fehrnstrom. It was a Saturday outing to a river with friends, and neither of them ever made it into the water. They spent the day sitting on a boulder talking to each other, and both realized they had met someone special. They became a couple that day, quickly becoming inseparable and staying that way for the next 48 years. Exactly nine years after they met, on October 4, 1984, Mickey married her best friend in the backyard of her childhood home. They honeymooned on a houseboat, then returned to their home in Culver City.
Those years were spent working (both mostly in newspaper circulation departments), having fun, and loving life. They spent a lot of time in the deserts of Nevada and California, both being avid off road racing fans and participants. Mickey was a part of the team, riding in the toughest American desert race of all, The Mint 400 outside of Las Vegas. When not in the desert, they loved exploring the local mountains, taking long road trips exploring Northern California, Oregon, and Washington. Mickey always loved camping and spending time with friends and family. She also spent time clowning around, appearing as Mickey the Clown for children’s parties. Her costume, of course, she had sewn herself.
In 1986 they decided to move to a quiet, safer, more rural area many miles east of Los Angeles. They purchased their first home in a quiet town of just 7,600 people, San Jacinto. Mickey began working at the Riverside Press Enterprise newspaper, continuing the circulation department work she had been doing for the Santa Monica Evening Outlook before the move. They continued camping and exploring any chance they got, and turned their home into a huge haunted house for Halloween several years in a row.
In March of 1992, Mickey and Larry welcomed their first child, Angela. April of 1994 brought Rachel, then Kevin made his appearance in July of 1996. The girls started attending elementary school, and Kevin attended the preschool attached to the local college where Mickey was taking classes. While at Mount San Jacinto College, Mickey wrote a children’s book for an assignment, Hand Me Down Rose and Max. She received an A on the assignment, and was always incredibly proud of her project. She loved showing it to people, and still has the book and Max, the teddy bear the story is about.
As the kids grew, that quiet town also grew and began to change. Mickey and Larry felt it was time to move on, and already knew where they wanted to go. They’d visited Idaho several times over the years, and Mickey loved it. She thought it would be a much better place to raise the kids. In 2001 they made the big move, with Larry driving a big U-Haul truck and Mickey towing a trailer behind her Explorer. They finished the drive at a rented house in Nampa, and in December found the home they would buy.
The kids started school, now with Kevin in kindergarten. Angela and Rachel had started Girl Scouts a few years before, and Mickey found new troops for them quickly. Mickey had been a co-leader for their troop in San Jacinto and decided to continue that role. She continued as a leader for the girls’ troops until they bridged out in 2010 and 2012, then was a co-leader with Rachel for several more years. She then joined Angela as a general volunteer, helping plan and run several council-wide events and training courses. She was a Lifetime Member and reached 30 years of membership this year.
As soon as Kevin was old enough to join Cub Scouts, Mickey became a Scout Mom in every way. She joined at the same time, and served as a committee member and volunteer for Kevin’s troop until he received his Eagle Award in 2014.
Every Halloween brought hand-made costumes. The kids would come up with crazy ideas, and Mickey would make them happen. There were pioneers, princesses, Jedis, Uncle Sam, pirates, Mary Poppins, Maleficent, and even a rubber duck one year. They would always go to the costume contest at Boo at the Zoo, and the costumes Mickey made were often the ribbon recipients.
In July of 2007, Mickey began working at the JC Penney store in Nampa and loved her job. She helped prepare the store for its upcoming grand opening, and worked in almost every department over the last 16 years. Her coworkers quickly came to love her, and that maternal instinct, kindness, and patience, drew many of the younger, new employees to her side. She always enjoyed teaching and mentoring them. Customers loved her too, many specifically asking for her when they came into the store, often leaving reviews calling her “a gem”. Mickey was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroendocrine cancer at the end of last year, she dealt with that and numerous related health challenges for eight months. She faced each new challenge with incredible strength and determination. Sadly, Mickey passed away on Tuesday, September 5th. She is survived by her husband Larry, daughters Angela and Rachel, son Kevin, her mother Carolyn, and sisters Renee and Nanette, and brothers Randy and Jeff. She will be deeply missed by her family, friends, and by all those whose lives she touched.
A service will be held at 2pm on October 4th at Nampa Funeral Home, Yraguen Chapel in Nampa. It will also be streamed at https://www.youtube.com/@fehrn5