In memoriam: Michael Sporakowski, professor emeritus of human development
Michael Sporakowski, professor emeritus of human development in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, died June 9.
Sporakowski joined Virginia Tech in 1970, serving as professor and eventually department head in the Department of Family and Child Development. Prior to beginning his career at the university, he earned degrees from Penn State in College Station, Pennsylvania, and Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida. Also, he completed postdoctoral work at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.
During his career, Sporakowski also worked with Extension and served as a marriage counselor. He was elected president of the National Council on Family Relations and served as editor of the journal for the professional organization for several years. Sporakowski retired from Virginia Tech in 2003.
“Mike was very kind and welcoming when I was a new faculty member in the department, called Family and Child Development at that time, when I was the only faculty member focusing on gerontology,” said Rosemary Blieszner, Alumni Distinguished Professor and senior fellow with the Center for Gerontology at Virginia Tech. “For example, as editor of the premier journal Family Relations, Mike invited me to contribute a review article on family relationships in later adulthood, which was a relatively new focus for the journal back then. I also had a research report published in that journal under his editorship. Later, when Mike was head of the renamed Department of Human Development and a few more gerontology faculty had joined us, he continued to support the growing focus on adult development and aging that colleagues and I brought to the department’s curricula, research, and outreach activities.”
Sporkowski’s family described him as an avid golfer who started playing the sport in his youth, participating on teams in both high school and college. They noted that although he tried to pass his passion for the game along to his wife and daughters, they shared neither his enthusiasm nor talent for the sport.
Beyond golf, Sporakowski pursued many interests from community service, animal rescue, and church to marksmanship in the Senior Olympics. Family and friends shared that “his good will and kindness will be sorely missed.”