Noel J. Mickelson

Noel J. Mickelson: The Artisan and Equestrian Behind the Legacy

Noel J. Mickelson, an adept American artisan and equestrian, possesses a life story that intertwines artistic passion and a love for horses with a brief yet notable connection to the entertainment industry through her former marriage to actor John Amos. While much of the public interest in Mickelson stems from her association with Amos, her own accomplishments and interests offer a rich tapestry worthy of exploration.

Early Life and Background

Noel J. Mickelson was born and raised in Estherville, a quaint town in Emmet County, Iowa. The serene landscapes of her Midwestern upbringing provided a backdrop for the development of her artistic and equestrian interests. Despite her notable presence, much of Mickelson’s early life remains cloaked in mystery. Details about her birthdate, parents, and siblings are scarce, adding an air of intrigue to her persona. This scarcity of information extends to her early education, with little known about her schooling prior to her enrollment at Colorado State University.

Meeting John Amos

Mickelson’s path intersected with that of John Amos during their time at Colorado State University. Their relationship blossomed against a backdrop of societal challenges, particularly given the era’s pervasive racial prejudices. Their love story, beginning in the 1960s, was a testament to the power of personal connection over societal norms. At the time of their meeting, Amos was a football player for the Colorado State Rams, while Mickelson’s academic pursuits remain undisclosed. Their interracial relationship faced significant societal scrutiny, reflecting the racial tensions of America during that period.

Marriage and Family

In 1965, Mickelson and Amos defied the legal and societal barriers to interracial marriage by tying the knot. Their union came at a time when such marriages were illegal in many states. Their marriage was a bold statement against the prevailing norms and was later validated by the landmark 1967 Supreme Court decision in Loving v. Virginia, which struck down laws prohibiting interracial marriage.

The couple welcomed their first child, daughter Shannon Amos, a year before they formalized their union. Shannon has since built a career behind the scenes in the entertainment industry as a writer and producer. Their second child, Kelly Christopher (K.C.), was born in 1970 and has pursued a career in direction, production, and video editing. Despite the couple’s efforts to shield their children from racism, societal prejudices inevitably touched their lives. This was starkly illustrated by an incident Shannon recounted, where her family faced an armed racist threat, a harrowing experience that underscored the realities of prejudice.

Artistic and Equestrian Pursuits

Beyond her roles as a wife and mother, Mickelson carved out her own niche as a talented artist and craftsperson. Her artistic talents extended into various forms of craftsmanship, showcasing her versatility and creative spirit. Additionally, her passion for horses marked her as an enthusiastic equestrian, a pursuit that speaks to her deep connection with nature and animals.

Later Life and Legacy

The marriage between Mickelson and Amos ended in 1975, but Mickelson’s influence continued to resonate through her children and her multifaceted career. Following their divorce, John Amos’ career flourished, marked by his iconic role as James Evans, Sr. in the CBS hit series “Good Times” and numerous other television and film appearances. Despite the end of their marriage, the bond between Mickelson, Amos, and their children remained strong.

Mickelson passed away in December 2016, surrounded by loved ones. Her death marked the end of a life filled with creativity and a deep appreciation for the natural world. In her final moments, she expressed regret over not having traveled more, prompting her daughter Shannon to embark on a journey to scatter her mother’s ashes across the globe, fulfilling Mickelson’s unfulfilled wanderlust and honoring her spirit.

Influence and Inspiration

Noel J. Mickelson’s life, though less publicized than that of her former husband, left an indelible mark on her family and those who knew her. Her daughter Shannon credits her mother with inspiring her own creative endeavors, and her son K.C. often shares memories of their time together, reflecting on the nurturing and supportive environment Mickelson provided.

Despite the challenges she faced, including navigating an interracial marriage during a time of significant racial tension, Mickelson maintained a focus on her passions and her family. Her legacy is one of resilience, creativity, and a love for both artistry and the equestrian world. Her life story serves as a reminder of the multifaceted lives led by those who often remain in the background, overshadowed by their more famous counterparts but no less impactful in their own right.


Noel J. Mickelson’s story is one of quiet strength and artistic passion. From her roots in Estherville, Iowa, to her time at Colorado State University where she met John Amos, and through the challenges of an interracial marriage in a prejudiced society, Mickelson’s journey is marked by resilience and creativity. Her legacy lives on through her children and the memories they cherish, a testament to a life lived with passion and grace. While much about her remains shrouded in mystery, the known chapters of her life weave a narrative of an artist, a craftsperson, an equestrian, and above all, a dedicated mother and individual who navigated life’s complexities with grace and determination.

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