WILMINGTON — Michael Samuel Caliva, 75, died Friday, Feb. 3, 2017, at his home. His passing from heart failure was sudden, but without suffering.
Michael was born in Los Angeles, Calif., on July 15, 1941, to Jewel and Myro Caliva. He grew up by the ocean with his two sisters, Tamara and Toni. Michael was a voracious learner who tried his hand at many trades, and never allowed doubt or circumstance to govern what he believed he was capable of.
Always possessing a love for traveling the open ocean, in his youth he sailed far and wide on the dime of his own skills working on fishing ships, freighters and private sailing vessels, or transporting ships he refurbished himself.
In the 1980s, he landed with his eldest son in Wilmington, N.C. He soon fell in love with the vibrant community and decided to make it his home. He sold his beloved ship, “Secret,” in favor of a historic building in downtown Wilmington, where he would eventually build Caffé Phoenix along with his loving wife and two sons.
Michael had an enormous heart, and cared deeply about the people around him. He was also a dedicated patron of the arts and reinvested much of what he acquired into bettering the community. He spent the late years of his life on his ongoing campaign to revitalize downtown Wilmington, spending time with his friends, family, and adoring Labrador, and trading stories with interesting people; though there are few who could match him tale for tale.
Michael is survived by his wife, Deborah; sons, Marcello and Alexander; sister, Toni; and grandchildren, Niccolo and Zoe.
A memorial service will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 12, at the Platypus and Gnome, the old site of the Caffé Phoenix.