Frank R. Olenchak obituary

Contact: Jeanne Baron
Photo of Frank R. Olenchak.

Frank R. Olenchak

Dr. Frank R. Olenchak, an internationally known education researcher and former Western Michigan University faculty member, died at his home in Columbia, South Carolina, Aug. 24. He was 88.

Olenchak joined the WMU faculty in 1966 and retired in 1984 as an assistant professor emeritus of education and professional development after more than 17 years of service to the University.

He initially was appointed to teach in the Department of Music and to direct vocal and instrumental music activities at WMU's campus school, a training school for students preparing to become teachers.

Olenchak became coordinator of student teaching at the newly formed WMU Southeast Michigan Center in Livonia, Michigan, in 1969. He organized, developed and administered the center's office for student teaching and in 1971 was named director of the center, which moved to Plymouth, Michigan, in 1974.

At the time, Olenchak was one of the few WMU administrators to also teach and conduct research. He studied such areas as program development, evaluation and teaching, and he wrote, co-wrote or edited nine books and pamphlets.

Many of his scholarly articles and research papers were published in professional journals, including the Journal of Teacher Education, The Instructor and the Michigan Association of Teacher Educators—MATE—News. He also composed music, produced one television film and served as an advisor for another TV film.

Frank R. Olenchak

Olenchak was active in a host of regional, state and national professional organizations. He served MATE in a variety of ways, including as president and chairman of the executive board in 1982-83. He also was a longtime committee member for the national Association of Teacher Educators and Michigan Music Educators Association.

For more than 23 years, Olenchak worked with the Phi Delta Kappa honorary education fraternity. He served as president of the Michigan chapter at the University of Michigan in 1981-82. During that time, he initiated the Elderhostel program at U of M through Phi Delta Kappa, and served on its board of directors.

In 1980, Olenchak was among the small group of Americans invited to be listed among the world's leading educators in the International Who's Who in Education, published by the International Biographical Centre in Cambridge, England.

Additionally, he received the Distinguished Service Key from Phi Delta Kappa International for his leadership and service to education in the state of Michigan, as well as two teaching awards from WMU and two meritorious service awards from MATE.

Olenchak's career also included many years of employment outside of WMU in Michigan, Virginia, Maryland and South Carolina as a university professor or as a teacher at public and private schools.

Soon after retiring from WMU, he developed a teaching company for music called Music on the Move in Michigan. It supplied teachers and planned and taught general, vocal and instrumental music in private and parochial schools in the state.

Olenchak earned a bachelor's degree in music at James Madison University in 1950, a master's degree in education at Pennsylvania State University in 1957, a Certificate of Advanced Study in Education at Johns Hopkins University in 1963, and a doctoral degree in music with a specialization in music education from U of M in 1977. In addition, he did postdoctoral work at U of M's Center for the Study of Higher Education and at Teachers College, Columbia University.


The family obituary is available at A guestbook has been established at for posting memorial messages.

Memorial gifts may be made in Olenchak's name to:

P.O. Box 6394
West Columbia SC 29171