Dr. Michael Vena

michael vena

July 4, 1941 ~ August 25, 2023

Born in: 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


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Memories Timeline


  1. We are so sorry to hear the news about Michael’s passing May he rest in peace. We are keeping your family in our prayers.

  2. To Anna and family. My sincere condolences on the loss of Michael. Such a fine man. He was truly Italian and American. He valued his family as well as taking all the opportunities that America offered him. A true scholar and Educator. I had the pleasure of working with him on Committees . He was always a joy to serve with . He surely will be missed and just as surely rests in the arms of our Good Lord.

  3. Gentile Signora Anna e gentile Famiglia Vena,
    ho conosciuto Michele
    tanti anni fa ed ogni qualvolta tornava in Italia mi sentivo orgoglioso per la Sua amicizia. Ho sempre apprezzato le sue doti di Studioso della Lingua italiana e di Professore Universitario, un vero orgoglio per la Sua Famiglia ma anche per noi suoi amici e compaesani. Mi stringo al Vostro dolore e Vi invio le mie più sentite Condoglianze.
    Paolo A. Santella

  4. My deepest condolences to the family of Prof. Vena. He was always very kind and encouraging to me. I would stop by to see him occasionally in his office to discuss things Italian and he was always very welcoming and generous with his time.

  5. Dear Vena family,
    I convey my deepest condolences to Zia Anna and the family for their loss.
    Last time i saw Zio was at my wedding 31 years ago, he and his family drove down to Montreal and spent the weekend to celebrate my “big day”. I am truly saddened that i did not have the opportunity to see him again in the many years that have passed. For me, a man of inner strength and resilience! He will be missed. Wishing the family strength and comfort through this difficult time.

  6. To The Vena Family,
    I am saddened by Michael’s passing. I have fond memories of our time in Urbino.
    Michael was always supportive and generous with this kindness and leadership. He took
    great care with his students and colleagues. My sincere condolences.

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