Michelle Joy Billy was born on August 3, 1976 to Russell Billy Sr., and Helen (Smoker) Billy in Eureka, Ca. She passed peacefully from natural causes in her sleep on May 11, 2020 in Hoopa, California. She was a proud member of the Yakama Nation and was of Yurok descent. Michelle was the youngest of 11 siblings; and grew up in the Shaker Church that her father built and ministered at their home in Weitchpec. She was also a graduate of Captain John High School, but her proudest accomplishment came at the age of 21 when she and Austin Rakestraw had their only son Brandon. Michelle had lived the rest of her adult life in Hoopa. Michelle was unique, kind and loving. She loved all people, especially those closest to her. She was a brave woman that would speak her mind, but she was also very humble who lived life on her own terms. She was a mom, grandma, sister, auntie, and a good friend to many. She was so incredibly proud of her son and his accomplishments, and always spoke so highly of him and her grandsons.
Michelle was survived by her son Brandon Rakestraw; her grandsons Brandon Jr. and Brayden; siblings Sharon McCoy, Marlene (Robert Comenout), Brenda, Jacob, and David Billy Sr; nieces and nephews Melissa, David Jr, Lekshiyat, Rhea, Stoney Jr, Malaki, Alyshia “Sweet-Pea”, Naw-Tes, Brayden, Temisa, Derek, Rashenda, Rayma, Tosha, Cheryl, Altawnya, Melinda, Lavenia, Luis, Marcel, Jaida, Jacob Jr, Dyani, Dale, Rebecca, Deanna, Aliyah, and Julian; great nieces Maria, Scarlett, and Braelyn; aunt Thelma Smoker and numerous other great nieces and nephews, cousins, and close friends.
She is preceded in death by her parents Helen and Russell Billy Sr; aunt Elsie Smoker; uncles Mahlon, Amos, Eugene, Earl, and Gorham Smoker Sr; maternal grandparents Amy Smoker, Willie Smoker, and Charles Peters; paternal grandparents; Lucille (Stahi) Billy and Jacob Billy; siblings Marita, Manuel, Melissa, Mitchell “Mitch” Billy and Russell “Rusty” Billy Jr and two great infant nieces.
Michelle was laid to rest at the Smoker Family cemetery in Weitchpec, California on Friday May 15, 2020.
Pall Bearers: Brandon Rakestraw, David Billy Sr, Jacob Billy Sr, David Billy Jr, Stoney McCoy Jr, Tristen Severns, Micah Titus II, Stoney McCoy Sr, Ranold “Ted” Pearson, Phillip “Rebel” Harmon and Richard Rutherford.
Honorary Pall Bearers: Gorham Smoker Jr, Galen Smoker, Willie Smoker, Donald Howerton, Albert “Buster” Owen, Austin Rakestraw, Robert “Bob” Rakestraw Sr, Jason Rakestraw Sr, and Jason Rakestraw Jr, Darrell Obie, Laurence “Blue” Obie, and Tobias Burrows.