MADISON - Michael Voichick, of Madison, died peacefully on Thursday, July 1, 2021, surrounded by family in a room full of love. Mike was born to Herman and Stella Voichick in Yonkers, N.Y., on May 28, 1934. He and his older sister, Barbara, led happy childhoods, primarily in Philadelphia where his parents ran a Harley Davidson dealership, and Mike was no doubt one of the friendliest and funniest kids on the block.
As a teen, Mike spent summers in the Catskill Mountains at Camp Woodland. It can be difficult to identify moments in our lives where our enduring passions and values take root, but Camp Woodland was such a place for Mike. Known for helping spawn the American folk music movement and governed by the slogan, "The world is a neighborhood, one family with one future," the multiracial camp that brought city kids to the country to develop an appreciation for Catskills culture and blended community fostered both Mike's openness to people of all kinds from all places and his deep appreciation of music, especially folk, jazz and classical. (With a twinkle in his eye, Mike loved to remind people that he too was an accomplished musician...after all, he had mastered the triangle in his third-grade band.)
Mike attended Oberlin College and, soon after, met his future wife, Jane, at a party. Jane was knitting a sweater for another suitor at the time, but sparks flew and Mike ended up with both the sweater and the girl. After marrying in December 1960, Mike and Jane worked fast: three years, three states, three kids. In 1962, Mike received his Ph.D. in mathematics at Brown University and Jennifer was born; in 1963, during Mike's postdoc at Dartmouth, Nicholas was born; and in 1964, they landed in Madison where Mike joined the math faculty at University of Wisconsin, Jonathan was born, and they settled in and made their family home.
Mike loved teaching college math, and his students loved him back. For more than three decades, he brought his sharp intellect and keen sense of humor into the classroom, and it was appreciated by his students and many advisees. In spite of the demands of academia, Mike always found time to support Jane's professional ambitions and share in the parenting responsibilities, including carting three hockey-playing kids to endless games and practices at the crack of dawn in sub-zero temperatures. "Papa Mike" was also a devoted grandfather, and his grandsons appreciated his good humor, playful nature, and on-the-spot math quizzes.
All of us who knew Mike will remember his wide smile, easy laugh, kind heart, and generosity of spirit. More than anything, he valued human connection. He made friends wherever he went, and he always approached other people with genuine interest and curiosity. His openness, warmth, and jollity brightened our every day. In the autobiography he penned at age 15, entitled "Mike's Maneuvers," Mike wrote, "I, Michael Voichick, resolve to strive to be an asset and benefit to the world to the end of my days." Hey, Mike! You nailed it.... and we miss you so much already.
Preceding Mike in death are his parents and his sister, Barbara Kulicke. Mike leaves behind his beloved and devoted wife of 60 years, Jane Voichick; his three children, Jennifer, Nicholas and Jonathan Voichick; his four grandsons, Finn, Lucas, Walker, and Owen Voichick; his daughter-in-law, Leslie Shown; granddaughter-in-law, Abigail Voichick; and many deeply loved cousins, in-laws, and friends. If you would like to make a donation in Mike's memory, please consider the Wisconsin Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, Capitol Lakes Foundation, or Agrace HospiceCare.
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Cress Funeral & Cremation Services
3610 Speedway Road, Madison