Michael Richard Cross 1944 – 2024

Written by Estero Bay News

March 14, 2024

Michael Richard Cross (79), a fifth generation Visalian, passed away peacefully in his home on January 22, 2024. A graduate of Redwood High School (Class of 1963), Mike attended UC Berkeley before enlisting in the Army and serving in Korea during the Vietnam War. Mike returned from serving his country and graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a degree in sociology in 1971.

Mike found two true callings in life:  One was his loving commitment to family and the other was his unwavering pursuit of social justice. He married Betsy Gaudette-Cross on July 19, 1986, his wife of 37 years, and was the proud father of four children:  Grant Gaudette, Megan Lo (Gaudette), Katherine Cross, and Kevin Cross. Known affectionately as “PopPop” to his five granddaughters, Ellie (12), Coral (11), Abby (9), Kaia (5), and Finley (5). Mike relished in the joy of sharing each new milestone with his children and grandchildren. 

Mike loved sports, playing golf, being outdoors with his family, and traveling the world with his wife, Betsy. Still, his dream day was any day spent with his family, sitting on the deck of his Morro Bay home reading a good book, or going on a drive to Sequoia National Park, followed by some ice cream in Three Rivers.

In the legal community, Mike was best known for his professional calling as a criminal defense attorney in Tulare County. His life’s work was nothing short of heroic. He quite literally advocated for life over death for his clients. Mike fought for their dignity, fought for grace and humanity to be granted to the too often dehumanized, despised, or forgotten in our society.  With such quiet grace and dignity, he faced headlong the injustices of his own community with an iron stomach, a brilliant mind, an upright spine, and unflinching eyes on reason and compassion. Mike truly believed that the death penalty should be abolished, and he made it his professional pursuit to make that happen.

It is extraordinary and admirable beyond compare how Mike Cross managed to align his moral and professional compass so completely.  His family and his community have lost a quiet giant.

Michael Richard Cross is survived by his wife, Betsy Gaudette-Cross, his four children, his five grandchildren, and his brother, John Cross. A memorial service will be held in Visalia at a date to be determined. If you would like to share stories, photos, and stay connected, please go to https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/michaelcross.  In lieu of flowers, Mike’s family requests donations be made in Mike’s memory to the Innocence Project (https://innocenceproject.org/donate/) and/or to Youth on Course (https://youthoncourse.org/donate). 

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