Rest in Peace: Local hero Michael Moriarty takes his final bow

By : Stephen Miller
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michael moriartyLocal activist, writer, and spiritual leader Dr. Michael Moriarty passed away on Dec. 2 in his Winter Park home after a brief illness. He was 74. Michael was a retired professor, Zen monk, artist, actor, tour guide, gardener, and writer. He was well regarded in many local organizations in arts, politics, Zen Buddhism and the LGBT community.

Michael was born in Goshen, Indiana, on February 7, 1941. He earned his PhD in Comparative Literature from Indiana University in Bloomington in 1971. Michael made a career teaching college English, literature and even some Spanish and French at Valley City State University in North Dakota. After retiring in 1996, he moved to central Florida. He outlived many of his friends, who were lost to AIDS. Because of this, Michael maintained a lifelong commitment to living healthy in mind, body, and spirit.

Michael was very involved in several local groups. He maintained his love of literature through book clubs. He often participated in political rallies and meetings. Michael encouraged many of his artist friends, seeing their concerts, art shows, and theater. He frequently traveled all over the globe with friends and tour groups. He sang with Orlando Gay Chorus for several years. He was also a longtime member of Orlando Front Runners and Walkers.

One of Michael’s primary loves was his spiritual journey. He helped start the Orlando Zen center. In 2007, he received Tokudo (ordination) as a Zen Buddhist monk with the Brevard Soto Zen Community. This past September, he earned the rank of Shusso Hosen, which he was quite proud of.

Michael was well known at the Orlando Sentinel for his frequent letters to the editor. They were often short and witty, offering interesting perspectives on local and national events.

Michael was also recognized as his role of “Sinister Man” in local sales and training videos for Tropical Ford.

To his friends, Michael was a constant seeker of knowledge – both temporal and spiritual. He was gentle, quick-witted, and generous with his time. He loved people and animals, and he encouraged others to keep exploring.

Michael is survived by his sister Anna Marie Moriarty, his brother Peter Troup, and numerous cousins. A memorial ceremony for Michael Moriarty is set for Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016, 7 p.m. at the First Unitarian Church, 1901 East Robinson St., in Orlando.

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