Michael V. Harrell
On Thursday, February 14, Michael V. Harrell passed away at his home in Austin, Texas at the age of 77. Michael fulfilled his wholehearted journey on this Earth, finally succumbing to Leukemia, while leaving behind an unparalleled legacy of excellence, esteem, and endearment.
At his request, there will be no formal services for Michael. His company, Vista Host, is a close partner with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, as was he, and we have chosen to set up a donation page in his name for those who wish to support the St. Jude organization.
Michael was born on August 11, 1941 in Carmi, Illinois, to Julius Grissom Harrell, MD, and Dorothy Kathryn (Vincel) "Vince" Harrell. He pursued his collegiate studies at both Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana, as well as the University of Evansville, from which he earned his B.S. degree. It was during this latter matriculation where Michael was introduced to the hospitality industry while he worked as a hotel night auditor during college. On April 1, 1960, he married Linda Babcock in Golconda, Illinois.
Michael revered his wife, Linda, with whom he shared his passion for life, for travel, and for benevolence. He embraced devoted relationships with his two daughters, Lisa and Sarah, and he tremendously enjoyed traveling with them and their families. Michael beamed with pride for his four grandchildren, Davis, Hope, Grant, and Hannah, often sharing their noted accomplishments with colleagues and friends.
After having risen quickly through the ranks in the corporate hospitality sector, in 1978 he founded Vista Host, a hotel development and management company which has garnered industry praise due to his relentless pursuit of distinction and legendary service. He earned a number of prestigious accolades during his career, including having served as President of International Association of Holiday Inns (IAHI) from 1984-1985, as well as having been a celebrated member of the Hilton Advisory Board for Hampton Inn. In 2012, he was bestowed with the prominent Lifetime Achievement Award from Hilton Worldwide. Michael will be remembered for his industry vision, his passion for superlative results, and his compassionate spirit.
Michael was preceded in death by his father, Julius Grissom Harrell, MD, and his mother, Dorothy Kathryn (Vincel) "Vince" Harrell. He is survived by his wife, Linda, his two daughters, Lisa Galassini and her husband Terry, and Sarah Harrod and her husband John, his four grandchildren, Davis Galassini, Hope Harrod, Grant Galassini, and Hannah Harrod, his sister, Carolyn Bloomfield and husband Steven, his brother, David G. Harrell and wife Gina, and his brother-in-law, Charles Babcock. For the thousands whose lives he touched, we ask that you find peace in the countless memories of Michael, just as he has now found peace with God.