June 19, 1916 - July 15, 2008
Legions of students at the
Denys Volanopulo was born in
Denys Volanopulo married Catherine Janetis on June 10th, 1943. Catherine is a well-known local artist, a founder and long-time member of the Arati Artist’s Gallery. After returning from the Second World War, Denys and Catherine welcomed their first child, Gregory, to the family in January of 1947. By that time, Denys and Catherine had shortened the family name to Volan. Their daughter Barbara was born in March, 1952 and their son Philip in August, 1955.
Each of the children has enjoyed success in their lives. All three graduated from Wasson High School in Colorado Springs. Greg is a Licensed Architect and Industrial Designer who has operated his own practice with his wife, Wendy, for 30 years. Barbara is an RN and works with the National Cancer Institute. She is married to Gayle Christensen who is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Gayle and Barbara’s family includes three children and four grandchildren. Phil is a well-known, award-winning local favorite musician-entertainer.
Other immediate family members in Colorado include Catherine’s younger sister Julia Halevy, her son Stephen Ellis, his wife Suzanne and their two children, Elias and Julia of Boulder.
Education and Teaching
Denys graduated from the City College of New York with a Bachelor of Science in Social Science in 1938 with a history major. After the War, he received his M.A. in History from Columbia University in 1950 where he was voted the outstanding history student. Graduate education also included one year of postgraduate study in history at Indiana University and 2 years at the Columbia University Law School. In 1969, Denys received his Doctorate in History from the University of Colorado at Boulder. His academic awards include: the Mead Prize in History at CCNY, 1938; Faculty Research Grant in History at CCNY, 1939; Teaching Fellow at CCNY 1939-40; Fellow in History at Indiana University, 1940-41.
As a professor of history, Denys taught first at the City College of New York. In 1952, he became a cofounder and first Administrator of the University of Colorado Extension in Colorado Springs (later the University of Colorado Colorado Springs). He also taught history at the Colorado College. In addition, he served as a President of the Colorado Springs Adult Education Council. In later years he was Assistant Professor and Lecturer in history at UCCS.
Excerpt from a letter of recommendation to the University of Colorado:
“ I commend him to you enthusiastically and with full confidence that he will prove to not only be an able but a superior teacher. As supervisor of the School of General Studies History Department of the City College for many years, I have had an opportunity of observing Mr. Volan carefully. He has been one of our very best teachers. He has a most attractive manner and personality. He is conscientious and able -- one of the very best young men we have here. He has had excellent training and is familiar with teaching problems. We were, in fact, most sorry to lose him.” Louis L. Snyder, City College of New York
World War II
A college professor of European History may seem an unlikely match for the military, but so were countless others who served our country during World War II. Denys Volanopulo served in the United States Army Air Corps from October, 1942 through April, 1946. He graduated the Officers Candidate School of Applied Tactics and was commissioned as a First Lieutenant - Intelligence Officer assigned to the 440th Bomb Squadron 319th Bomb Group and later with the 317th Troop Carrier Group at Mobutu AFB, Okinawa Island at the end of the war in the Pacific. Campaigns included the Air Offensive Japan, Ryukyus and the China Offensive. Decorations and citations include the American Campaign Medal, Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal and the Distinguished Unit Badge. Denys was discharged in the Spring of 1946 and returned to his wife Catherine in New York to begin a long life of professional success and raising a family.
A side note: the draft induction notice for Denys Volanopulo is enshrined in the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution in an exhibit entitled “AAF Memories of World War II”, which recalls the experiences of Army Air Corps men from induction to discharge.
Civil Service Career
In 1946, after his discharge from the Army Air Corps, Denys began his civil service career as an Historian for the First Air Force at Fort Slocum, NY. He advanced to Historian with the Continental Air Defense Command at Mitchell Field the next year and, in 1951, took a position as Historian for the Air Defense Command. The new job required packing up the family and moving to a small town in the Wild West called Colorado Springs, where the Air Defense Command was to be headquartered. By 1955, Denys was appointed Command Historian. He retired from the Civil Service in 1972 as Chief, Command History, Office of the Chief of Staff.
Denys’ personal papers are filled with letters of commendation, outstanding and superior job ratings and congratulations from his superiors.
From 1972 through 1985 he was able to pursue his love of history as Lecturer and Professor of History at UCCS.
Denys will be missed by his family and friends, but his presence has not diminished and his legacy is a powerful part of who we are.