Michael Wiseman

Michael Lynn Wiseman

1944 - 2020

Recommend Michael's obituary to your friends
Share Your Memory of

Obituary of Michael Lynn Wiseman

Michael Lynn Wiseman was born June 24, 1944, in Cassville, Missouri, the son of Bill Roberts Wiseman and Velma Ferne (Rowland) Wiseman. After his Dad returned from the army, the Wisemans (with the addition of Michael's new sister Joyce) moved around the Ozarks, where his parents operated dry goods stores in Wheaton, Missouri, and Berryville and Harrison, Arkansas. In 1953, they moved to Mountain Home, Arkansas. There he enjoyed exploring the outdoors, including a job as a tour guide at Bull Shoals Caverns. He was also involved in Scouting. He attended the National Boy Scout Jamboree in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, in 1957 and spent time at Philmont Boy Scout Ranch. A large part of his growing up was spent with his wider family, especially his Rowland cousins. When Mike was nearly 18, his family got bigger, with the birth of his brother, Tim.



After graduating from Mountain Home High School in 1962, Michael attended Texas Christian University, in Fort Worth, Texas, where his Uncle Wayne Rowland was a professor. It was in the marching band at TCU that he met Carol Orton. Mike and Carol got married September 4, 1964, in Casper, Wyoming, Carol's home town, before returning to Fort Worth so he could finish his last two years at TCU. Less than a year after they were married, Mike and Carol traveled up to Mountain Home to meet his new sister Jennifer.


In the summer of 1966, Mike and Carol visited both Mountain Home and Casper on the way to Madison, Wisconsin, for Mike to begin graduate study in economics at the University of Wisconsin. They lived in the married student housing in Eagle Heights, and in April 1968, Mike and Carol welcomed their first child, Stuart. Michael received a PhD in economics in December 1972.


In 1970, Mike, Carol, and Stuart moved across the country so that Mike could begin his appointment as an assistant professor of Economics at the University of California at Berkeley. And in May 1971, the family expanded with the birth of daughter Erin. Soon after that, they moved into the house in El Cerrito that was their home for the remainder of their time in the Bay Area.


After moving to California, Mike and Carol became members of the First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley. They served together as Sunday School teachers and Sunday School coordinators. Mike also served as an Elder, helped in various positions organizing the All-Church Conference, and filled multiple other roles. He was also very involved in youth soccer through the El Cerrito United Soccer Club.


In 1978 Michael received tenure at UC Berkeley and later served for several years as Vice Chairman of the Economics Department. In 1986, with Stuart graduating from high school, Mike and Carol decided it was a good time for him to take a sabbatical year at the LaFollette Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. That same year they also received Carol's diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. Michael would always say that they had been diagnosed with MS.


In 1988, right before Erin's senior year of high school, Michael decided to make the leap from UC Berkeley back to UW Madison, as a Professor of Public Policy, Urban and Regional Planning, and Economics. He moved to Madison, while the rest of the family remained in the Bay Area until the day after Erin's graduation from high school, when he, Carol, and the cat got on a plane to return to Madison. The years in Madison were fruitful professionally, and included visiting positions in such institutions as Universität Bremen, the Katholische Universität Eichstätt, and the Russell Sage Foundation. During 1996-1997 at Russell Sage, Mike and Carol lived in an apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, which was quite a change from Cassville, Missouri. While in Madison, Mike and Carol were a part of both High Point Church and Christ Presbyterian Church.


These years saw family changes as well. Son Stuart married Keeva Coe in 1991, and daughter Erin married Stephen Taylor in 1996. Even more joyful additions were the births of Natalie Carol in 1997 and Patrick James in 2000 to Keeva and Stuart. Mike and Carol enjoyed becoming grandparents.


Between the births of Natalie and Patrick, Michael accepted a position at the Urban Institute in Washington, DC and in 1998 Mike and Carol moved to Arlington, Virginia, where their condo in Crystal City became the home they shared the longest. At Crystal Park, Mike served on the Board and as Treasurer. Soon after they arrived in the Washington area they joined National Presbyterian Church. During their time at NPC, Mike and Carol served as deacons and inexplicably Mike was appointed Moderator of the Deacons. When they were a part of the accessibility committee wiser heads prevailed: Carol was the chairperson while Mike was the secretary. Later, Mike served as technical advisor to Carol as she organized communion servers and then he took on the task of organizing the greeters.


Professionally, Michael's time in Washington involved many changes and offered many opportunities. He left the Urban Institute in 2000 to move first to the National Opinion Research Center and then to the George Washington University as a Research Professor of Public Policy, Public Administration, and Economics. He served as a consultant on evaluation for several states, the US Social Security Administration's Office of Retirement and Disability Policy, the Office of Family Assistance in the Administration for Children and Families of the US Department of Health and Human Services, the Economic Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture, the European Commission, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the UK Department for Work and Pensions, and various non-governmental organizations engaged in evaluation work. Recently one of his greatest professional joys was teaching a graduate "Poverty and Social Policy" course, which always culminated in the awarding of the Wiseman invented "International Association of Social Assistance Inspectors" badge to each student.


While Mike and Carol were in Crystal City, they gained three more grandchildren: Rosa Louise in 2001, Amon Zane in 2005, and Caleb Archer in 2011, all born to Erin and Stephen. Mike and Carol reveled in visitors, children and grandchildren, family, and friends. This time was also a time of much adaptation to Carol's increasing disability. In 2014, Grand Teton National Park, Mike and Carol's favorite place, was the setting for their 50th anniversary celebration, which included all of their children and grandchildren, as well as a number of other relatives.


Michael Wiseman died at his home on March 1, 2020, surrounded by family. He is survived by Carol, his beloved wife of over 55 years, son Stuart Wiseman and his wife Keeva Coe of Sacramento, California, daughter Erin Taylor and her husband Stephen of Las Cruces, New Mexico, grandchildren Natalie Wiseman of Boise, Idaho, Patrick Wiseman, of San Luis Obispo, and Rosa, Amon, and Caleb Taylor of Las Cruces, New Mexico. He is also survived by his sister Joyce Wiseman of St Peters, Missouri, his brother Tim Wiseman and wife Penny of Laramie, Wyoming, his sister Jennifer Wiseman and husband Mark Shelhamer of Reisterstown, Maryland and his sister-in-law Sandy Orton of Rodeo, California. Memorial gifts may be made to National Presbyterian Church, 4101 Nebraska Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20016.


To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Michael Wiseman, please visit Tribute Store
A Memorial Tree was planted for Michael
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Rapp Funeral and Cremation Services