Michael R. Yesenko
04/26/1929 - 02/28/2024

Celebrating the Life of Michael R. Yesenko

Michael Robert Yesenko (April 26, 1929 – February 28, 2024) lived a life devoted to serving others, leaving a legacy of kindness and unwavering commitment to his faith, country, family, and students. Born in Newark, N.J., in 1929, Michael was the youngest of five children, the son of the late Valentine and Ludwina (nee Weiss) Yesenko, first-generation Austrian and German immigrants. Growing up, he attended St. Ann’s Elementary School, Madison Ave. Jr. High School, and Weequahic High School, where he developed a deep appreciation for education and service.

After completing high school, Michael enlisted in the United States Army and was active in the Occupation of Japan (24th Division, 19th Infantry Regiment) under General Douglas MacArthur during the time of Japanese Emperor Hirohito. This commitment to public service remained steadfast throughout his life.

After his service in the military, Michael continued his call to public service as an educator. This led him to pursue higher learning at Seton Hall, Rutgers, Haverford College, and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He divided his time across New Jersey and Pennsylvania, nurturing relationships with both sides of his family while pursuing his academic and professional endeavors.

Michael had a profound love for American history and elevated stories of many unsung heroes. He was a prolific author, penning seven books that illuminated the bravery and sacrifices of historical figures, particularly those of the Revolutionary War era. His writings not only celebrated heroism but also served as a testament to the importance of understanding and honoring the past. He was also an exceptional artist and illustrator who enjoyed drawing the historical figures featured in his books.

Dedicating over 40 years to teaching history and economics at Union High School, Michael left an enduring impact on countless students. From 1953 to 1975, he served as a teacher and later as Supervisor of Social Studies grades 6 – 12 from 1975 to 1993. He also served as the school’s tennis coach, leading the team to two state championships. He also served as president of both the Union Township and Union County Historical Societies and a particular love of the Caldwell Parsonage in which he helped to maintain and give tours along with informational speeches to young students from around the state. He also served as Treasurer of the Township of Union Historical Society. Michael was a proud member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of Whippany and the American Legion, finding camaraderie and purpose in these organizations. He enjoyed attending VFW meetings with his brother Valentine.

Michael was the beloved husband to Marie Anderson Yesenko and a loving father to Kathleen Wilkinson Husband Tom, and Denise Sandora Husband Joe. He was a devoted grandfather to Lindsey, Lauren Husband Michael Malloy, Michael Wilkinson, and Kristi Polidore Husband Mark also a cherished great-grandfather to Finnley and Thomas Polidore. He had many treasured nieces and nephews. He held dear the memory of his siblings, Marie DiMarco, Matilda Lombardo, Valentine, and Joseph Yesenko, and brother-in-law, John Anderson Wife Terry, as well as the kindness, bravery, and resilience of his parents, Ludwina Weiss Yesenko and Valentine Yesenko Sr.

As Michael’s life is celebrated, his legacy of faith and public service continues to inspire all who had the privilege of knowing him. Relatives and friends are invited to his Visiting hours on Sunday March 3rd from 2-6 at Bradley, Haeberle & Barth Funeral Home and Funeral Service Monday March 4th at 10:15. Saint Michael the Archangel Church 1212 Kelly St, Union, NJ.

In lieu of flowers please make a donation to the Caldwell Parsonage 909 Caldwell Ave, Union, NJ 07083.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whom so believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

Funeral Home:
Bradley, Haeberle & Barth Funeral Home
Visitation Hours:
Sunday, March 3, 2024. 2 pm to 6 pm
Mass. Monday, March 4, 2024. 10:15 am. St. Michael the Archangel Church, 1212 Kelly St. Union, NJ
Hollywood Memorial Park Mausoleum. 1500 Stuyvesant Ave. Union, NJ
Bradley Funeral Homes
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