College mourns passing of R. Michaela French, the founding director of UCALL

Publication Date

The College is mourning the passing of R. Michaela French, the founding director of the College’s popular adult learning program, the Union College Academy of Lifelong Learning. She retired in 2004.

Since its founding in 1988, UCALL has grown from 22 to more than 500 members who register for classes that reflect the wide range of topics in Union’s liberal arts curriculum. Recent offerings have included opera, astrobiology, elections and Charles Darwin.

“As the founding director, Michaela took tremendous pride in developing quality learning and enrichment programs and for building a sense of community within our membership,” said Valerie D’Amario, director of UCALL. “We would not have the UCALL program we all enjoy today without the foundation she built.”

Born in England in 1926, the fourth of five children, she married Robert French during World War II and returned with him to Schenectady. She raised five daughters before pursuing a career in education. She was a longtime resident of Schenectady’s Historic Stockade District, where the community, architecture and Mohawk River reminded her of England.

She was devoted to the adult learning process and earned several degrees including a doctorate in education from the State University of New York at Albany. She also worked at the College of Saint Rose and Empire State College.
An avid reader and writer, she belonged to book and writing groups. She was a published author and served as editor of the Stockade Spy newspaper for many years. She also enjoyed cooking, photography, the outdoors and spending time with friends and family.
Survivors include her daughters, Lynne Ferluge (Robert), Christine French (William DeRidder), Katherine Moran (Thomas) and Pamela Woythal (Mark); a son-in-law, Wayne Metsch; and five grandchildren. She was predeceased by Robert French; her daughter, Jennifer French; and her siblings.

A memorial service will be held Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, at 6 p.m. at Bond Funeral Home, Broadway at Guilderland Avenue, Schenectady, N.Y. Calling hours are from 5 to 6 p.m.
Memorial contributions may be made to UCALL, 807 Union Street, Schenectady, 12308.

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