Michael Walensky 8/16/1942 – 7/15/2023

I am sending the notice regarding the passing of Michael Walensky copied to me by Marta Gillen, Sr. Executive Assistant for the President at DVC.:

We are sad to report the passing of former employee Michael Walensky. Michael was a DVC humanities instructor from 1991 to 2009. The following is shared by our colleague Ruth Miller:

Michael Walensky, whose full name was William Michael Walensky, passed away July 15, 2023, following a short period of declining health. Michael brought insight, wit, and an infectious enthusiasm for the arts to the Humanities classes he taught at DVC and to his work and conversations with colleagues and friends.

Born August 16 (“flex week,” he would always point out), Michael almost made it to his 81st birthday. He was born in Fort Worth, Texas, and upon high school graduation, he left to study in Monterrey, Mexico. He then began his undergraduate studies at the University of Chicago, where his academic achievement in Humanities and world languages earned him Phi Beta Kappa recognition. He later studied at the Facolta’ di Lettere in Florence Italy on a Fulbright Grant. When he returned to the U.S., he moved to Berkeley where he received his Ph.D. from the University of California.

Michael taught Italian literature and the history of dramatic literature for many years at UC Santa Cruz. He took leave from the academic world to work in corporate management for various airlines, employment that facilitated his great enthusiasm for world travel. He eventually resumed teaching as a part-time faculty member at several colleges, and in 1991 he accepted a full-time teaching position at DVC in the Humanities & Philosophy Department.

He retired from full-time teaching in 2009 stating that he planned to “take more long walks in Tierra del Fuego.” He did that and much more, including repeated visits to Iceland, a country he became fascinated with later in life.

A true Renaissance man, Michael possessed an insatiable curiosity. He was committed to life-long learning, was a voracious reader, he spoke and read in multiple languages, he traveled extensively and adventurously, wrote short stories, collected art, and he was a gourmet cook and gardener.

Later in life he rekindled his connection to Fort Worth and returned several times a year for family visits and to engage in the local art community and visit the galleries of a favorite gem, the renowned Kimbell Art Museum. Michael cared deeply about human and animal rights, causes to which he volunteered time and money. Though it has not been formally requested, it is well known that Michael was a dedicated supporter of the Humane Society, and he certainly would have been pleased with any donations to Berkeley Humane: berkeleyhumane.org

Michael’s passing is preceded by that of his parents Alma Mae and Jack Walensky, and he is survived by his sisters Judy Weinstein and Cathy Walensky.

A remembrance will be held at one of Michael’s favorite watering holes the evening of Sunday, September 24, 2023. Ruth Miller can put friends in touch with Michael’s sister for details.


Michael was hired when I was and his office was pretty close to mine.  I enjoyed talking with him on a regular basis.  He was an interesting, intelligent and dedicated professional.  He will be missed.

Nancy Zink

DVCRA Liaison