Michele Urquhart (Pinizzotto)
We are sad to announce the passing of our sister, aunt and friend, Michele Urquhart (Pinizzotto), on the morning of Feb. 4, 2014 at Renown Medical Center in Reno. Michele left us unexpectedly after a brief illness.
Michele was born on April 2, 1947 in Artesia to George and Hazel Pinizzotto. She was a 1965 graduate of Fullerton Union High School. In 1966 she founded an all-girl Rock nâ Roll band; first the Lady Birds, then Daisy Chain and finally Birtha, signed a recording contract with ABC-Dunhill Records. The band released two international albums and four singles. Birtha toured the U.S., Europe and parts of Canada; managed by her brother, Michael. Birtha had quite a following (Birtharocks.com). Michele also had the opportunity to perform at the Hollywood Bowl at the âWe are the Worldâ benefit concert.
Michele stayed true to her music for many years, teaching singing, guitar and piano at her recording studio the San Fernando Valley. She also directed a childrenâs choir n Canoga Park. Friends in the business say she had so much talent as a songwriter, vocalist and lead guitar player. She was a leader in vocal and musical arrangement. She was a very powerful woman, had loads of determination, was super creative and very generous.
She moved to New Zealand around 1980 where she fell in love with Rory Urquhart and married him in 1981. Rory passed away in 1983 after a motor vehicle accident. While in New Zealand, she brokered merino wool and did everything from shearing sheep to combing and spinning the wool. She also made beautiful sweaters out of that wool.
Many travelers on U.S. 395 will remember Michele as the owner of the Lee Vining gift shop Bronze Bear Outpost which she operated for 10 years. Again she had quite a following and some customers came in year after year because of her unique sense of style, to see whatâs new, or just to stop in and say hello. She had many contacts up and down U.S. 395, knowing most shops and their owners. She loved shopping and selling and was very good at it. Her friends in the music business were sad to see her go into the gift shop business because she would no longer be doing her thing in the music business.
A burial service was held Monday, Feb. 10 at the Mono Lake Cemetery. An additional celebration of life will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 10. For information, please phone Michael Pinizzotto at (760) 647-6478.
Michele was preceded in death by her mom, Hazel; her dad, George Pinizzotto; and husband, Rory Urquhart.
She is survived by her brother, Michael Pinizzotto; sister-in-law, Nancy Pinizzotto; nephews, Kyle and Mitchell Pinizzotto; and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.