Michael Kenig
October 22, 1942 - December 31, 2021
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Many people have asked what they can do to honor Michael Kenig’s memory. If you had him as a teacher, a director in a show or simply had the good fortune of sharing time with his wicked sense of humor, here are some thoughts. He was a PASSIONATE volunteer at Providence Animal Center in Media…

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Michael Iaconelli left a message on January 10, 2022:
I am so sorry to hear of Mr. Kenig’s passing. He was one of the first English teachers I had who taught me how to love reading and books. RIP, Bear, I have carried that love for literature to others too. Some of your students carry this mission forward, no greater compliment can a teacher have than that.
Katie Hodgins left a message on January 9, 2022:
When I think of great teachers, Mr. Kenig was the best of the best. I went through some personal stuff my soph year when I had him. He showed concern, yet still engaged me and challenged me. He was one of a kind. I never wanted a test grade that had his “cats swinging from chandeliers.” I have never forgotten him and I know many, like me, never will.
Charlie Alexander left a message on January 9, 2022:
Cardinal Ohara didn’t have many good teachers when I went to school there. My teachers were frankly terrible. That is besides Mr. kenig. He taught class in a fun way and had really made it a class to look forward too. He drove by my house daily on his way home. We’d talk about my neighbors cows. He thought they were real. So he made a bet. He’d change the letter grade on my worst test to an A, I only had one C in his course rest were A’s, if I could prove they were fake. Next day I proved it to him and we had a great laugh. He then urged me to leave Ohara for the episcopal academy. You’ll be truly missed Mr. kenig. God bless.
Greg Dienna left a message on January 9, 2022:
Mr. Kenig was my 10th grade English teacher and I have a lot of fond memories- how he gave us the choice to be in the school play or write a paper. I joined the play - Guys and Dolls. How 2 friends and I sat in “the corner” and good-naturely tortured Francine(?) for a whole school year while he defended her honor and made fun of us. When he asked to read my poem and said it “actually” was pretty good and submitted it to a poetry contest. RIP Mr. Kenig - you won’t be forgotten.
Jim tomeo left a message on January 8, 2022:
I was no star student, but Michael made me feel like a star. His gift is the kind that keeps giving. Thank you Michael for boosting my confidence when I needed it most.
Peace of mind is a call away. We’re here when you need us most.
Gina Hawkins (Kelly) left a message on January 8, 2022:
Thanks for being a wonderful teacher and sharing your passion with so many of us students. Rest In Peace Mr. Kenig.
Liz Day left a message on January 7, 2022:
Thank you for being a great teacher. Rest in peace, Mr. Kenig 🤍
Lorena Gray left a message on January 7, 2022:
We shared many Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter Dinners together. He was family. Rest In Peace Michael!
Lindsay Horack left a message on January 7, 2022:
In memory of Michael Kenig, Lindsay Horack lit a candle
Dina Bair Maher left a message on January 7, 2022:
Michael Kenig started teaching at Cardinal O'Hara the year before I was born. In a 40-year devotion, Mr. Kenig brought out the best and the worst in his students; and for me, that was the greatest gift. He was a teacher I admired and tried to emulate. I held his lessons dear through 34 years as a journalist. I can still recite the "articles": about, above, across, against, among, at..... The memorization part was simple. In fact, at Cardinal O'Hara, I seemed to be skating through my academic career, that is, until Mr. Kenig delivered my first poor grade." He returned a paper with more red marks than I had ever seen. My mother recalls the tears. I was frustrated, a bit angry, and very confused. But, before I could react in a way I knew I would regret, he offered a suggestion. Soon I was hopeful as this wise AP English teacher gave me a chance to rewrite the paper. Yes, it would be more work, but it would also possibly erase that miserable letter from the grade book. So, I got to work. With each enhancement, I realized my writing was improving; the paper I thought was worthy of an "A" was not nearly as good as I believed. Embarrassed and thrilled, I noticed I was learning; my writing style was growing. Mr. Kenig taught me not just to put together words that are grammatically correct but to create a story from the heart -- to use my voice and passion. I utilize these skills every day. This is the mark of a great teacher. Then the lessons turned to complex poetry, and even more frightening, Shakespeare's iambic Pentameter. To say we were confused is an understatement. Mr. Kenig had an idea, act out the works. Instead of reading rhyming words, we began to feel them and live them. Soon the feared pieces became beloved works of art. And in the performance process, we gained the confidence to speak in front of people. This skill is so critical for college, job interviews, and in my case, anchoring the news in the third-largest city in this country. Through all of the labor and lessons, Mr. Kenig also made his class entertaining. We worked hard, yet we laughed often. I can still hear the sound of his giggle as he teased and motivated us. I have told my children, in your school career, you will scarcely meet a teacher who you know will impact you for decades. So, when you do, recognize and cherish them, even in the face of a bad grade! My kids inquisitively asked about the teacher who left that mark in my life. Mr. Kenig, I said with a smile. Dina Bair Maher COH '85 Anchor/Medical Reporter WGN TV
Julie Caramanico West left a message on January 7, 2022:
Mr. Kenig was such a wonderful teacher and I am so sorry to hear of his passing. I have such fond memories of his class. He had such a wonderful way of inspiring us to read and get into the literature, and also have fun and laugh a lot! I still remember him taking the time to tell me I was a good writer, and I kept a copy of poems that he had graded highly for years! His support meant a lot to me and I know he meant so much to so many. Sending love and condolences to his close friends and family.
Diane Verna Farley left a message on January 7, 2022:
Mr. Kenig's brilliant wit, shining smirk, and delightful sarcasm remain seared in my memories of my favorite teacher and favorite class of high school and college. I wish I had kept in touch after graduating from O'Hara in 1981 because he was a treasure of a person. I absolutely loved when we read plays aloud and how privileged was I to have the role of Blanche Dubois opposite his Stanley Kowalski in "A Streetcar Named Desire." A joy and fun that I can still bring to my mind and heart over 40 years later! Thank you, Mr. Kenig -- Heaven's Company just gained an exceptionally talented man! I look forward to seeing you again --save your copy of "A Streetcar"!
Tom Gammarino left a message on January 7, 2022:
Frankly, all I cared about in tenth grade was playing my guitar, so when Mr. Kenig assigned a paper on Julius Caesar, I decided instead to write a short story about Mexican boxer Julio Caesar Chavez, about whom I also knew nothing. A lesser teacher would have penalized me, but Mr. K enjoyed the story and gave me a respectable grade. I took this as permission to use his class as a yearlong exercise in creative writing. I wrote story after story, all of them outlandish, some including footnotes and subliminal messages (e.g. "Eat at Joe's"). Mr. K invariably began his end comments with "There is help in the counseling center," but he kept tacitly encouraging me too. At the end of the year, he finally gave the assignment I'd been completing all year: to write an original short story. I wrote a story of mistaken identity involving Barney the purple dinosaur. As usual, Mr. K's comments began by inviting me to interrogate my mental health, but then he wrote, "Since this may be the last chance I have to tell you so, I believe you could be a truly great writer someday." It is no exaggeration to say those words gave direction to my whole subsequent life. Not only am I still chasing down that writer dream, but (go figure) I'm a high school English teacher now too. When my first novel came out in 2009, I made sure to thank Mr. K in the acknowledgments, and the next time I was around Philly, we met up at Iron Hill Brewery in Media for lunch and I got to tell him how much his words had meant to me. That was the last time I saw him, though I always made a point of wishing him happy birthday after that. I guess I won't be doing that anymore, but I promise to keep your spirit alive, Mr. K, by trying my damndest to get kids excited about language and stories, and by encouraging them to become what they are. Infinite thanks, teach.
Laura Riordan left a message on January 7, 2022:
Mr. Kenig was brilliant, hilarious, and insightful and pushed and inspired us to think for ourselves vs ever force feeding anything. He made words come alive as we read The Great Gatsby and Holden Caulfield's perspective in The Catcher in the Rye. I loved him as a teacher and an all around awesome human being. He really loved a narrative I wrote about a favorite day swimming in a waterfall and playing on nature's mossy slides. The poignant feedback he shared was the first time I really felt I could move people with my words and possibly be a writer someday. I now have multiple articles published and will someday find time for that book! Thank you, Mr. Kenig for your encouragement and sharing your fire and passion for life and words with so many of us over the years. RIP 🙏 ❤
Angelo left a message on January 6, 2022:
To this day there is no one else who has introduced more $1 words to my lexicon. He was one of the most memorable figures during my time in high school. He truly performed God’s work convincing teenagers like me that reading literature is cool. You remain unforgettable, Mr. Kenig.
Sue Salerno left a message on January 6, 2022:
One of my favorite teachers in high school. Always enjoyed his humor and bantering back and forth with witty dialogue. RIP Mr. Kenig.🙏🏼
Jessica Jacovini left a message on January 6, 2022:
Mr. Kenig was one of my favorite teachers at O’Hara. He made English entertaining and his sharp sense of humor cracked us up every class.
Dan DiGrazio left a message on January 6, 2022:
To the Kenig family. Michael was a great teacher and related to students. Many fond memories.
Gloria Woods Dragonette left a message on January 6, 2022:
Mr. Kenig was a favorite English teacher of mine. His quick wit and sly smirk will be remembered fondly. What I respected most about him was his unwillingness to let any writing piece suffer a mundane death. He forced you to think twice before applying an overused word! He was fair and he was funny, but most of all, he was uniquely creative. May he rest in peace. Amen.
Mary Jo Yannacone left a message on January 6, 2022:
Michael Kenig was my 10th grade English teacher. I loved his caustic sense of humor, his quick intellect, and the way he could punish and praise you in the same sentence. He was especially kind to me as I became an adult, and I will forever remember him for it. Rest In Peace ❤️
Peace of mind is a call away. We’re here when you need us most.
Jocelyn Hittle left a message on January 6, 2022:
Michael is my great uncle, and has always been the only relative that ever truly understood me -even from my childhood. It was like he didn’t even have to ask any questions. When I was seven, he promised me that he would take me to see Wicked in New York. I didn’t know what Wicked was, so I was intrigued. It was this interaction that lit my Theater fire. While we never travelled to New York, and our family became estranged, so he never got to see me perform, we got back in touch earlier this year - which I am the most grateful for. I was able to tell him that I am majoring in Theatre Education (much to my family’s dismay, which I think he enjoyed even more), and that’s it all because of him. I had always dreamed that maybe one day we would meet by chance outside of a Broadway theatre, but now I know he will always be there with me. Every day when I direct at school, I think of him. And no matter what, I know he will be watching me perform during our spring musical, and every other musical I will ever have the privilege of belonging to. I want to say thank you to all of you, for being such a light in his life. Uncle Michael will always live on in my future Director’s notes, and you all will always be in my hearts.
Jocelyn Hittle left a message on January 6, 2022:
Michael is my great uncle, and has always been the only relative that ever truly understood me -even from my childhood. It was like he didn’t even have to ask any questions. When I was seven, he promised me that he would take me to see Wicked in New York. I didn’t know what Wicked was, so I was intrigued. It was this interaction that lit my Theater fire. While we never travelled to New York, and our family became estranged, so he never got to see me perform, we got back in touch earlier this year - which I am the most grateful for. I was able to tell him that I am majoring in Theatre Education (much to my family’s dismay, which I think he enjoyed even more), and that’s it all because of him. I had always dreamed that maybe one day we would meet by chance outside of a Broadway theatre, but now I know he will always be there with me. Every day when I direct at school, I think of him. And no matter what, I know he will be watching me perform during our spring musical, and every other musical I will ever have the privilege of belonging to. I want to say thank you to all of you, for being such a light in his life. Uncle Michael will always live on in my future Director’s notes, and you all will always be in my hearts.
Clarissa Pegram left a message on January 6, 2022:
Not many teachers can be your favorite and some 20 years later be your child’s! Such an extraordinary person ❤️ I will always have fond memories of Romeo and Juliet and think of you! Rest In Peace Mr Kenig!
Mike Valori left a message on January 6, 2022:
Great teacher, kind human. Rest In Peace.
Mitch Greene left a message on January 6, 2022:
Best teacher I have ever had. I'll never forget his definition of art: "Art is anything that makes the world more beautiful" In that case Mr. Kenig, you were a masterpiece. Rest easy.
Theresa D'Alonzo (Leahy) left a message on January 6, 2022:
Mr. Kenig was my freshman English teacher and to this date, one of my favorites. He possessed such wit, honesty, and intelligence. Mr. Kenig was an out-of-the-box thinker/educator before it was mainstream. I remember getting in front of the class with other students and having to act out the characters in the story. He actually directed one of the best shows ever at O'Hara: Our Town. It was excellent. I am so glad to see so many people remember him fondly too. May he rest in peace.
Jason DiPietro left a message on January 6, 2022:
Had Mr Kenig as a freshman in 1989. He was a good man. RIP “Bear”.
Mary Nolan Simpson left a message on January 6, 2022:
Mr. Kenig was my favorite teacher of all time. I looked forward to his class each day, and remember my friends telling me they could hear me laughing from down the O’Hara halls every time I was in his classroom. His love of teaching and the arts instilled in me an appreciation that lives on to this day. Rest In Peace, Mr. Kenig. Thank you.
Barbara Crouse left a message on January 6, 2022:
Michael, The world has lost a shining light in so many ways with your passing.I am grateful I stopped by the cattery and saw you in there recently! The love you had always for all the beloved cats at PAC and your own felines resonates in my mind always! Always concerned for all animals; your love for them was so evident! Thank you for that! Also, advice on theater! Which plays you thought I would enjoy! Rest well Michael; miss you and so do the cats everywhere.
Joe Theranger left a message on January 6, 2022:
I was privileged to have taught at COH with Michael for 16 years. I think the students that have posted here are far more eloquent in their comments than I could ever be. Michael knew almost instinctively what it took me a long time to learn. Teaching is not about you. It's about the young men and women that you are teaching. I'll end with this. There was a group of teachers at COH during my years at COH that were outstanding in their profession. Michael was at the top of that group. His passing is a loss for the O'Hara community in particular and for the teaching profession in general.
Alyssa Pegram left a message on January 6, 2022:
While I saw the news about you days ago, I wanted so badly to believe that it was all a mistake- a bad trip, a fever dream, a figment of a morbid imagination- but reality has made itself clear. Dear Michael...As you might say, Jesus, Mary, and St. Joseph! This is surreal. This really hurts like hell. There’s too much to say- I can’t even quite capture it all here. I will forever be despondently kicking myself for falling out of touch with you- for brushing aside the voice in my head that told me all the time that I needed to reach out to you. While we were Facebook friends, we stopped exchanging emails and meeting up years ago and that was my fault. I let life get in the way and made the mistake of growing complacent and believing I had all this time (history endlessly repeats itself- even in me...so it goes). My heart is crushed to dust knowing that I won’t be able to talk to you again- knowing I still had so much to tell you and had so many questions to ask- knowing I never got a chance to say goodbye. As trite as it may sound, I would give anything to be able to go back in time for even one day so as to see you one more time. I wish I could talk to you about how I graduated college as valedictorian and that I’ve been an English teacher for almost a decade- and my inspiration came from you. I wish you could’ve met my three cats RuPaul, Wolfgang, and Minerva. I wish I could’ve just walked by- I’ve lived in Media since September. I wish I started volunteering at the animal shelter when I kept saying I wanted to (that I can still do). You were the first teacher to come into my life- somehow during my sophomore year of high school- that made me feel like I was good at something- that I had real power- that I was somehow special. Perhaps it had something to do with being a little more than misunderstood- and for me and others like me, you became a beacon that lit the twists and turns of an insular island with its many judgements and phobias. Because of you, I became an English major. Because of you, I read what’s on my bookcase. Because of you, I continued to write poetry and write at all because you told me I could. Because of you I submitted work to The New Yorker at 17 even though I was rejected and had no chance anyway- but I did it because you believed in me. I hope at some point you knew how much I loved and admired you- I will for the rest of my life. I owe you a great deal of gratitude. I’m not sure if there’s anything after this place, but I sure hope you can hear me. My first paper I wrote for you was a flippant story titled “Frolicking in Fantasyland”...I remember even though it’s long gone. So Michael, I hope you’re frolicking in fantasyland and doing whatever the hell you want- I hope it’s paradise- because this farce of a place can take it and SHOVE IT. I feel in my heart that only very special people go out on the very last day of a year- I’ll be goddamned- you went stage left with Betty White- how’s that for the final act?! You were and always will be so very special and cherished by many. We were all so lucky to know you. Rest easy, my dear friend- I will always be a shepherd to cats everywhere and I will always pick a daffodil to herald each spring- directly from someone’s unsuspecting lawn- just for you.
Kathy Carilla (Palmatory) left a message on January 6, 2022:
Mr. Kenig was such an important part of my high school years! I was fortunate to be his student for two years, and I owe my love of literature and musical theater to him! Even after 40 years, I can hear his voice, and it still makes me smile! He will be missed!
Mike Connor left a message on January 6, 2022:
When I think back on my years as a student at COHS, Mr. Kenig's class is usually one of my first and fondest memories. His passion and enthusiasm were infectious, and he had the great ability to educate and entertain at the same time. He will be greatly missed!
John Cavanaugh left a message on January 6, 2022:
Freshman year 1969, he was my English teacher, will never forget one of my favorite teachers. We kidded him that he was the 5th Beatle.
Carl Blankemeyer left a message on January 6, 2022:
I remember "Bear" as one of my favorite teachers. His intellect was apparent to all. His knack for self-expression, too. He encouraged us all (in my case, to make an attempt to write something for the Dialogs publication), and shared keen insights into literature with us. He had a real sense humor, and when challenged by students in class, gave it right back. He was my AP English teacher for at least two years that I recall. Along with (then) Fr. Cribben, my two best English teachers at O'Hara. A gentle soul whom I was always glad to see. God bless him.
Angel Travaglini left a message on January 6, 2022:
Hands down, one of my favorite teachers ever! You made such an impact on me, Mr. Kenig. You inspired insight into literature with humor...that I still carry with me today. May your spirit fly free with the angels. This world is less brighter without you.
MaryAnn Nespoli left a message on January 6, 2022:
Michael was a good friend and a wonderful person. I don't think anyone could have been more caring for his students. .. He will be missed. Mrs. Nespoli.
Allison Kinnarney left a message on January 6, 2022:
One of my absolute favorite teachers - he leaves behind a legacy in each and every one of his students and all of his loved ones. Truly one of a kind ❤️
Maureen Dunn Clancy left a message on January 6, 2022:
Mr. Kenig had a positive impact on so many lives. Always a great sense of humor and passion for literature and theater that his students appreciated and explored because of him. I remember a day in class where he encouraged all of us to wear hats and become a character from another era. Another time he had us write poetry and recite it against the backdrop of music of our choosing. He was a treasure and will be missed.
Michelle Walsh left a message on January 6, 2022:
You were by far my favorite teacher! You taught me how to write and for that, I will be forever grateful. Ahhh, the pregnant pause….
Peace of mind is a call away. We’re here when you need us most.
Tricia Palmer left a message on January 6, 2022:
Mr. Kenig was a teacher you remember. He always challenged our minds. You could write a play about how amazing he was to all his students…even those of us that always seemed to be in trouble. I still used to see him around Media after I graduated and it always made my day! Rest In Peace. 💛🙏🏼
Kristine Decena left a message on January 6, 2022:
You were one of my favorite teachers at O’Hara. I never really cared for literature but you helped me to enjoy it. You will be a legend in my life. I will never forget you. And Thank You!!!❤️ Class of 1992.
Mary Ellen Detterlibe left a message on January 6, 2022:
There are so many things I learned from him that still resonate with me today. I would say that is the true essence of a teacher.
Doug Pizzica left a message on January 6, 2022:
Mr.Kenig, was one of the best teachers I ever had. His classes were alwasy enjoyable.This is a big loss for the O'Hara family. Class of 2000
Donna Revis left a message on January 6, 2022:
In memory of Michael Kenig, Donna Revis lit a candle
Kathleen Mamo Cooper left a message on January 5, 2022:
I remember him so well. I will go read a Tom Wolfe novel in your honor, Mr. Kenig. COH class of 81.
Karen Franks Zetterberg left a message on January 5, 2022:
So grateful I had you as my teacher at O'Hara. Thankful for your incredible teaching skills, keen sense of wit, and priceless mentorship. You are why I wound up majoring in English and Nursing in college and having that English degree has helped me immensely in life in so many ways. Mr. Kenig, you were one of a kind. You made this world a much better place!! Thank you for your influence, your heart, and your sacrifices for all of us!
Larry Blankemeyer left a message on January 5, 2022:
Rest in peace, Michael. You taught me English at O'Hara, and inspired us to let our creative energy flow. Writers and artists gravitated to you. There could be no greater tribute for a teacher. Thank you for your kindness, your good humor, and your gentle honesty. Larry Blankemeyer, O'Hara '74
Denise Sherlock Todd left a message on January 4, 2022:
Mr. Kenig was one of my favorite teachers during my time at O'Hara. He certainly did know a lot about literature and brought the classics alive in the classroom. He had a great sense of humor and an intense self confidence. He made learning a fun adventure while at the same time challenging you to find your best self. I will always remember my sophomore year English class with nostalgia. Mr. Kenig influenced many young Lions with his immense enthusiasm and eccentric ways. May he rest in peace and entertain everyone in heaven:)
Barry Buchy left a message on January 4, 2022:
Fellow teacher, dear friend, confidante, much shared laughter, etc. Thank you for so much. Blessings on you, Michael. You will be dearly missed.
Denise Donofrio left a message on January 4, 2022:
Michael was my English teacher at O'Hara, and then became my colleague when I began teaching at O'Hara as an English teacher. His love for literature gave me my passion for it as well. He was a wonderful teacher, mentor, and friend.
Terri Burke Borusiewicz left a message on January 4, 2022:
Michael was an ABSOLUTE joy to know! I was always jealous of his ability to completely enthrall a class just sitting at his desk talking about literature. I will miss his wit, his intelligence and his spot- on assessments of people, shows, books....... Be at peace with all the cats of Heaven!
Alvin Clay left a message on January 4, 2022:
My favorite teacher Freshman year 1971. Shared his love of theatre in those "heady" days of theatre at COHS. Loved to match wits with him. God bless Michael Kenig.
Mark West left a message on January 4, 2022:
Mike was a great teacher. Certainly the best English teacher I ever had. RIP
Laurence Miller left a message on January 3, 2022:
RIP Bear 🐻
Lucille Magnus left a message on January 3, 2022:
Michael, I wish I could have told you what a joy it was to be your colleague all those years at COHS in the 60s and 70s -- times I cherish even now. Your love of theater was truly infectious and I hope your mind can rest now in the natural brilliance you brought to our relationship. I will miss you, my friend. Lucy Magnus
Lucille Magnus left a message on January 3, 2022:
In memory of Michael Kenig, Lucille Magnus lit a candle
Ellen M. O’Hara left a message on January 3, 2022:
I am so saddened by the loss of Micheal Kenig from my life. I was honored to be his colleague at COHS where I always enjoyed his insight and wonderful sense of humor. Since his retirement I was able to have dinner with him a few times and each of those evening a was filled with raucous laughter because of his wicked humor. I will miss him so much.
Cavanagh Family Funeral Homes & Crematory left a message:
Please accept our deepest condolences for your family's loss.
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