College student Michela Angelina Gregory, 20, is remembered by family, friends and colleagues as an exceptionally hard-working, responsible and caring individual who loved electronic dance music.
She loved animals so much she became a vegan, her father David Gregory told the East Bay Times. “She wouldn’t hurt a fly,” he said. “She was the kind of person we need in this world.”
Gregory grew up in San Bruno and graduated in 2014 from South San Francisco High School, where she excelled both in academics and sports. She pitched and played outfield for the San Bruno Storm girls softball team. Head coach Richard Sims remembers her as “a wonderful teammate” who helped the team win fourth place at the ASA Western Nationals.
Gregory was halfway through her junior year at San Francisco State University, where she was majoring in child development and hoping to work with special needs children. One of her professors, Rama Ali Kased, remembers their last conversation. “When we talked about working with kids, her eyes just lit up," Kased says. "She was committed and excited about her calling in life.”
Kased says Gregory was “an amazing writer and a critical thinker, a golden, stellar superstar who got straight A's.” As an incoming freshman, she was chosen to be part of a special program to support low-income students who are the first in their families to attend college. “She had a strong commitment to social justice and community betterment, and a keen sense of how bigger societal issues impact kids," Kased says.
Gregory's mother, Kimberly Gregory, recalls with pride how much her daughter loved children, worked hard and made the honor roll three years in a row. “She carried her heart on her shoulder,” she says.
Dan Duggan, owner of the mortuary where Gregory and her boyfriend of five years Alex Vega -- who also died in the Ghost Ship blaze -- worked the night shift, remembers the pair as “really sincere and kind, compassionate individuals. They were both just really, really good kids.”
The Alameda County Sheriff said Gregory and Vega's bodies were found in what looked like an embrace, with Vega sheltering Gregory in his arms. “To the end, they were together,” David Gregory told the East Bay Times, “trying to help each other, I’m sure. I know it.”
For more of our tributes to the victims of the Oakland warehouse fire, please visit our remembrances page here.
For a printable poster of the illustration above, see here.
Funding for KQED Arts is provided by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
Support is also provided by Yogen and Peggy Dalal, Diane B. Wilsey, the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Helen Sarah Steyer, the William and Gretchen Kimball Fund, and the members of KQED