Dr. Michael Vena
July 4, 1941 ~ August 25, 2023
Jelsi, Campobasso, Italy
Resided in: Hamden, CT
Dr. Michael Vena, 82, of Hamden, CT, died peacefully on August 25, 2023. He is survived by his wife, Anna Maria (Ferrucci), his daughters, Sonia Caponera of Hamden, Marie Cristoforo (Brian) of Scituate, MA, and Phyllis Villone (Daniel) of Marshfield, MA, as well as his grandchildren, Mia, Abigail, Ronen, and Rafael.
Born in Jelsi, Campobasso, Italy, on July 4, 1941, to the late Andrew and Antoinette Vena, he emigrated to the US with his parents by boat at 17 years old. Michael embraced everything the United States had to offer, including opportunities for higher education and access to medical care to treat the effects of polio that afflicted him as a toddler. The adversity he faced from a young age never discouraged him, but rather fortified him in character to reach every dream and aspiration. After arriving in the US, he attended Norwalk Community College and the University of Bridgeport before earning his Ph.D. at Yale University in Romance Languages and Literature. He was named a Fulbright Scholar, and was the recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Michael’s lifelong passion was sharing the beauty of the Italian language, art, and culture with others. He taught at Yale before joining Southern Connecticut State University for the majority of his career, where he served as Chairman of Foreign Languages and Bilingual Education and was appointed Professor Emeritus. For 35 years, he directed a summer abroad program at the University of Urbino in Italy, attended by many hundreds of American students across the United States, including his daughters.
Michael’s academic interest centered on the Renaissance and modern Italian theater, and he published a number of textbooks, translations, and articles. One of the plays he edited and translated was staged at the Tasso Amphitheater in Rome and ran daily for two months. Michael was also invited as a visiting scholar at the Italian Academy of Language in Florence.
He was active in the community, founding and leading several organizations near and dear to his heart, including the Connecticut Italian Teachers Association, the Italian American Historical Society of Connecticut, Saint Ann’s Club in Norwalk, and the Dante Alighieri Cultural Center, Inc. He was also a member of the American Association of Teachers of Italian, the Renaissance Society of America, the Modern Language Association, and the Yale Club of New Haven.
Despite his many accolades, Michael was most proud of his family, and served as a constant source of guidance, encouragement, and inspiration to his daughters until his final days.
Friends are invited to visit with his family on Tuesday, August 29th from 9:00-10:30 a.m. at BEECHER & BENNETT, 2300 Whitney Avenue, Hamden, and are also invited to attend a Mass of Christian Burial in St. Paul VI Parish-St. Rita Church, 1620 Whitney Avenue, Hamden at 11 a.m. Entombment will follow in St. Lawrence Garden Mausoleum. Donations in Michael’s memory can be made to the MV Study Abroad Fund at the Community Foundation of Greater New Haven.
Visitation: August 29, 2023 9:00 am - 10:30 am
Beecher & Bennett Funeral Service - Hamden
2300 Whitney Avenue
Hamden, CT 06518
Mass of Christian Burial: August 29, 2023 11:00 am
St. Rita Church
1620 Whitney Avenue
Hamden, CT 06517