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Obituary for Michael Northcutt

Michael Northcutt

April 11, 2021

Local Grass Valley orthodontist, Dr. Michael E Northcutt passed away April 11, 2021 at age 86. He died peacefully, surrounded by family, following a stroke two days prior.

He and brothers Craig (identical twin) and Haines Ely were raised by their parents Marica and Northcutt Ely in Kenwood, Maryland. The three brothers all had passions for music, philosophy, good-natured humor, and all became doctors. The twins sang in a boys choir and were bold and mischievous, sneaking into the back of the church to play the majestic pipe organ. As teens they would double date, with Dee Dee—Michael’s first love—on the back of his scooter, going to live music shows in the D.C. area.

Michael earned a B.S. from Stanford University, where he and his twin Craig also competed on the men’s tennis team. He went on to earn a Doctorate in Dentistry from the University of California, Berkeley and become a specialist in Orthodontics at Columbia University.

Michael contributed to the field of orthodontics with a number of industry publications and inventions, most notably a revolutionary bracket remover. He worked for four decades and the positive impact he made on patients’ lives by transforming their bites and smiles is immeasurable.

Mike developed a strong work ethic during his three years of service in the U.S. Army along the East German border, and from his father Northcutt Ely, who practiced law into his 90s, argued seven cases before the Supreme Court, and held various presidential appointments.

In 1959 Michael fell in love and married Sally, an accomplished pianist who shared his passion for music. They had four children together, Craig, Patsy, Mary and Michael Jr. and raised them in Los Altos Hills, California, along with a cadre of pets including horses, rabbits, cats, dogs, and birds. Michael delighted in taking the family on fun vacations–whether it be a camping expedition to the local county park or an adventure to the lava flows and vibrant coral reefs of Hawaii. He and Sally parted ways in 1978.

In 1983 Michael remarried, to his first love Dee Dee (Deirdre)—and embraced her five children Vickie, Tom, Stephen, Wendy and Mehri as his own. They made a beautiful home in Los Altos Hills, then in Grass Valley, and worked side by side in their orthodontic practice for 30 years, with Dee Dee as the consummate manager. They found great pleasure in spending time with their children and helping out with the grandchildren, and adored their dogs Nana and Keeper, and cat Bentley.

Michael provided uncompromising support for his children’s passions and career decisions, and imparted words of wisdom such as, “You can do anything you want in life as long as you’re willing to work hard.” He inspired others with his playful spirit and love of nature, providing a second home near Tahoe City for gatherings, water sports, and skiing adventures.

Mike and Dee Dee lived happily together until her passing in February 2020. They are survived by their combined children, Tom, Craig, Patsy, Mary, Stephen, Michael Jr., Wendy, and Mehri, 16 grandchildren, and 7 great grandchildren.

Michael remained an avid tennis player for most of his life and continued playing the harpsichord and journaling about philosophy until his last days. He is loved dearly and will forever be missed. A small family “celebration of life” will be planned in 2022 for Michael and Dee Dee. Their family prefers memorials be donations in his name to the U.S. Humane Society or Meals on Wheels America.

The family would like to thank the community of Grass Valley and Nevada City for their support, and the staff at Sierra View Manor for their exceptional care.

Arrangements are through Hooper and Weaver Mortuary.


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