Generous. Humble. Witty. Unfailingly kind. Selfless. Playful. Loving. Warm. Devoted. These words describe Peter J. Michelozzi, beloved husband, brother, uncle and great uncle, friend, and community leader who passed peacefully on August 28, 2023.
Born in San Francisco in 1932 to Van and Gina (Salvi) Michelozzi, Peter spent a few childhood years in Santa Cruz, where he attended Gault School. His hard-working parents moved the family back to San Francisco, where Peter went on to St. Joseph’s Grammar School. In 1951, he graduated from St. Ignatius high school, where he excelled academically, played football, served in the ROTC, and was a Yell Leader. Peter took up the accordion as well, winning competitions and entertaining the family at gatherings. He entered Holy Redeemer College as a seminarian in the fall of 1951, spending novitiate years in Missouri followed by six years of Divinity studies in Wisconsin. Having dedicated 16 years to the priesthood, inspired by the progressive movement toward social justice coming out of Vatican II, Peter left the Catholic priesthood in 1967 to fulfill a wider ministry. Committed to education and service to others, he attained a Master’s in Counseling from Santa Clara University. Thereafter, he spent a couple of decades counseling young people, including youth caught in the juvenile justice system and students at Mission High in Hayward.
He met and married Elizabeth (Betty) Neville in 1968. Betty proved a faithful partner in life, community organizing, hospitality, conviviality, and practice of social justice. The couple retired in their 50s following Betty’s success as an author and dedicated themselves to multiple streams of volunteerism. Devoted students of Eknath Eswaran, Fr. John Main, Richard Rohr, and Joan Chittister, Peter and Betty led Christian meditation for an ecumenical community based in Aptos and for men incarcerated at Soledad Correctional Training Facility. Out of conviction that housing is a human right, Peter and Betty organized and led work groups for Habitat for Humanity, each serving in leadership roles and fundraising for the Santa Cruz chapter and building dozens of homes in Santa Cruz and in Guatemala where they facilitated annual Habitat work parties for many years. The couple enjoyed 53 years together.
Peter was a generous reflective listener, unfailing champion of the human spirit (especially in times of duress), and the embodiment of gratitude. He consistently lightened loads and with his unwavering sparkle, illuminated the places in which he found himself.
Peter and Betty taught us a lot about how to enjoy this beautiful world. - Rowland Rebele
My wife and I were members of a small book discussion group along with Peter and Betty. Peter was the “wise old man” of that group in his gentle, self-effacing, unpretentious, and insightful way of being. He had a kind of gracious old-world Italian manner that was delightful to witness. - Bob Strayer
The family invites those wishing to honor Peter’s life to donate to Habitat for Humanity of the Monterey Bay.