Herbert Michel Sr., Santa Ana Educator, Civic Leader, Dies

Herbert Arthur Michel Sr., a longtime Santa Ana schoolteacher and administrator, died at his home Sunday of prostate cancer. He was 77.

Michel was long considered a “behind-the-scenes civic leader,” playing important roles with the Santa Ana Unified School District and city organizations such as Kiwanis, Boy Scouts of America and local church groups, his son, Robert Michel, said Sunday.

Before joining the Santa Ana Unified School District in 1936, Michel was an accomplished musician, playing with the honor band at the 1932 Olympics and with dance bands, including a stint with novelty band leader Spike Jones.

Michel, who earned his undergraduate degree at UCLA and a master’s degree in education from the USC, taught music and physical education at Willard Junior High School in Santa Ana from 1936 until 1948, when he left to become the principal of Diamond Elementary School.


In 1953 Michel became principal of Santiago Elementary School, and later supervised its growth into the largest elementary school in the Santa Ana district. He retired from the district in 1973.

Memorial services are scheduled Wednesday at 2 p.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church of Santa Ana, 902 South Broadway. Michel is survived by his wife of 48 years, Nell T.; and three sons, Herbert A. Jr. of Fountain Valley, Robert L. of Santa Ana and William T. of Riverside.