McLeod Mortuary


Michael George Carlson

January 3, 1956October 12, 2020

Michael George Carlson

January 3, 1956 - October 12, 2020

Michael George Carlson was born on January 3, 1956, in Riverside, California. Michael’s upbringing was rooted in a commitment to family and faith led by his parents, Rev. Dr. George Carlson, and Marlyss Carlson. He grew up in Riverside, California, and then Cedar Rapids, Iowa, along with his siblings, Cathy, Greg, Sue, and Mary. Enjoying all sports, Michael excelled in football in high school and was proud to be chosen as an All American athlete. He played at Luther College where he received his double major in psychology and theology. Michael’s MBA from SDSU led him into his work as a project manager and independent business consultant to San Diego area companies. For many years he worked with First American Financial where he led many successful domestic and international projects as Senior Vice President of Strategic Business Development. Within all of his work, Michael demonstrated a strong work ethic, determination, and ability to connect with people that motivated others around him.

Based in San Diego, Michael built a family over the course of two decades alongside the mother of his children and former spouse, Jennifer Lynch. He was a dedicated, loving, and patient father and husband; he found great purpose and happiness raising his three daughters and spending time with his family and friends. In the next chapter of his life, Michael’s devotion to his family was centered around his deep love for his partner Mary as they created moments of joy each and every day.

Michael was a kind, compassionate, grace-filled soul whose faith gave him hope and strength throughout his life. With a passion for the outdoors, his favorite past-times included biking, camping, hiking, and sailing. From rafting down the Colorado River, rock-climbing in Joshua Tree National Park, or water skiing in the ocean, Michael’s adventurous and courageous spirit was constant throughout his life. Forever an Eagle Scout, he happily took on projects to help others and enjoyed working with his hands. Michael’s generous spirit and servant’s heart led him to volunteer through the church, schools, youth sports, food banks, and local charities.

Michael’s love and enthusiasm for life are carried on by his daughters Elise, Annika, and Emma Carlson; his partner, Mary Matheson; siblings Cathy, Greg, Sue, and Mary Carlson; a large extended family and many friends.

To honor his love for sailing and one of his favorite memories hiking in Yosemite with his daughters, his ashes will be scattered at sea and off of Half Dome. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to the Third Avenue Charitable Organization (TACO), a ministry of the First Lutheran Church, focused on supporting those experiencing homelessness in San Diego.


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Michael George Carlson

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Mary Matheson

October 25, 2020

Michael George Carlson was a good man. He was a devoted father, obedient son, reliable brother, fun uncle, good friend, and faithful, loving partner.

He approached everyone with an open heart. When out and about, out of the blue, Mike would say, "Hey, how are you doin'" to a complete stranger as if they were an old friend. More often than not, that stranger's stoney face would break out into smile, eyes would meet and for a moment, a human connection, an existence in the NOW, acknowledged. Most of us would avert our eyes and walk past people. Mike didn't.

Mike carried around water bottles in his car and handed them out to the homeless. He gave blood regularly and he went to church on Sunday. He helped to serve meals to the homeless. He never spoke a bad word about anybody, even those who treated him badly or hurt him deeply. He always rebounded with love. What a living lesson he was!

Mike found meaning and delight in relationships and nature. He was present always for the people he loved. He really loved being a part of the process in whatever was happening around him, not the onlooker. He was fully engaged. Every moment was precious.

While Micheal loved being a part of a church community of people, he found God fully realized in nature. There was always a pause to take in a gift; the full moon, a falling star, the majestic panoramic view from a mountain top, the way the aspen leaves shimmer in the light and wind, a pretty flower, a spray of yellow in the green, the sunset on the ocean, the light on the water.

So remember Mike when you are in nature, look for him in the light dancing on the water. And if you stop to give a homeless person water, or donate blood or brave a greeting to a stranger in the street, do it in the spirit of Michael George Carlson, who lived in love and to whom no one was a stranger.

I carry him in my heart.
With much love, Mary


Learn more about the Carlson name