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Lenders and mortuaries have some things in common.

posted Mar 4, 2016, 4:24 PM by Joyce Evans   [ updated Mar 4, 2016, 4:25 PM ]
You might know PSAR member Michael Dullea of Caliber Home Loans as a member of the PSAR’s South District Council and co-chair of the South County Charity Committee.
But did you know that he worked in the funeral business for seven years before becoming a loan officer? “I went from dealing with very small plots of land to much larger plots of land,” said Michael, who has worked in the mortgage industry since 2001. “You could say I’ve worked with people at perhaps the two most stressful times in their life, at the death of a loved one and when they buy their first home. It’s ironic because a loan application is very similar to death certificate paperwork.”
Michael’s entry into the funeral business began one Sunday after mass at Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Bonita. Mario De Blasio, who worked then at Greenwood Memorial Park (Mario is now general manager at Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery in San Diego), approached Michael and said, “I heard you just graduated from USD (University of San Diego) with a degree in psychology. I think you’d be great in the funeral business.”
After a month’s vacation in Europe, Michael joined Service Corporation International (SCI), which owned Greenwood at the time. Between 1994 and 2001, Michael worked at both Greenwood and Glen Abbey Mortuary in Bonita. “I spent $2,000 on suits and then learned on my first day on the job that my starting pay was $6.50 per hour,” said Michael. “Fortunately, I got promoted quickly and by age 30 was the youngest mortuary manager in San Diego at that time.”
In 1999, Michael married Michelle. They met while earning their master’s degrees in human behavior from National University. They were married at the Church of The Immaculata located on the USD campus. They have a 12-year-old son, also named Michael (his full name is Michael Norman Dullea).
While still working at Greenwood, Michael got a home loan from PSAR board treasurer Sam Calvano of Sam Calvano Home Loans. According to Michael, Sam said to him, “`What are you doing in the funeral business? I think you’d be great in the lending business.’ So, I checked it out and several months later decided to switch careers.”
Michael worked for Bank of America, Countrywide Mortgage and Wells Fargo before joining Caliber in October 2014. He is the sales manager of the Mission Valley and Chula Vista offices.
Michael grew up in Chula Vista. His father, also named Michael, has been involved in the real estate industry for the past 40 years as a real estate attorney and instructor at Southwestern College. Michael Sr. is currently Vice President and Western Region Underwriting Counsel with Title Resource Guaranty Company (TGRC).
“I’ve been working since age 12 when I started delivering the afternoon Evening Tribune newspaper,” said Michael.  “In my first year, I got the Carrier of the Year award.” (In 1992, the Evening Tribune ceased operations and merged with the San Diego Union, a morning newspaper, to become the San Diego Union-Tribune.)
Michael graduated from Bonita Vista High School (class of 1990). For three years in high school, he was a member of the varsity wrestling team. From age 15 until earning his bachelor’s degree, Michael worked as a referee and coach at the South Bay Family YMCA and City of Chula Vista Parks and Recreation Department. He also was a ref for USD intramurals sports programs.
“I’ve coached basketball, football, baseball, soccer and softball,” said Michael. “I grew from 5-feet-9 in the eighth grade to 6-feet-2 in the ninth grade and have never grown higher since. Not many coaches and parents have yelled at me as a referee because I’ve always been taller than most of them.”
Michael attended St. Rose of Lima School in Chula Vista. Today, Michael Norman also attends St. Rose of Lima. Michael Jr.’s middle school football team recently won the county championship. “It was the first time the school won the football title since 1986,” said Michael, who volunteered as a coach on his son’s team.
Today, Michael, Michelle and Michael Norman live in the same house on Arizona Street in Chula Vista where Michael lived as a child. “The three of us have the same initials, which makes it easy for the monograms on bath towels,” joked Michael. “Our street was one of the first in Chula Vista with underground utilities,” said Michael. “Corky McMillin built the homes on our street as a test project for underground utilities. He then used the same floor plans to build the Corral Canyon community in Bonita, which was one of the first communities in San Diego with underground utilities.”
Michael said he enjoys his involvement with PSAR. “We have a great association. I like the friendly people and love the energy. The strong bonds with our members throughout the years have become not only business relationships but also personal friendships.”