Marvin Williamson SHERAK

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Passed away in Santa Rosa, California on January 1, 2014, at the age of 90. Born in New York City, he served in the U.S. Army in the Pacific Theater during World War II. He went on to earn a Bachelor's degree in English at Queens College and Master's degrees in English literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and UC Berkeley. An English instructor at Santa Rosa Junior College from 1956 to 1989, he instilled his love of language and literature in generations of students. His many wide-ranging activities included acting in Santa Rosa community theater, co-founding the Sonoma County chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, and writing and lecturing for the North Bay Italian Cultural Foundation. A six-month sabbatical in Rome in 1966 sparked his life-long enchantment with Italy and 22 return visits, during which he made many friends and cultivated his well-known expertise in Italian art history, opera, wine, and cuisine. In 1979, he was awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to study art history in Venice. Marvin will be fondly remembered for his delight in word play, resonant voice when reading aloud, colorful storytelling, and his arresting encyclopedic knowledge of seemingly all subjects. Those who knew him will never forget his infectious wit and quiet kindness. Marvin is lovingly survived by his wife, travel companion, and muse of 64 years, Helen; three children, Robert (Iliana Trejo) of New York City, Katharine (Chaen Chan) of San Francisco, and Constance (Kathryn Alexander) of New Haven; adored grandchildren, Gabriel Chan and Paloma Sherak; sister, Janet Fire; sister-in-law, Gladys Sherak; and many nieces and nephews. In lieu of flowers, the family prefers that donations be made to the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California ( or Glide Memorial Church (
Published Online in the Press Democrat from Jan. 7 to Jan. 10, 2014
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