October 25, 1925 – November 3, 2016
Michael Saenz was born Oct. 25, 1925, in Laredo, the second child of Apolinar Rodriguez Saenz and C.A. Saenz. Michael married Nancy Elizabeth King of Greenville, Texas on July 28, 1950, after having met as students at Texas Christian University. They have two children; Michael (Mick) and Cynthia (Cindy).
Mike was a proud graduate of Laredo Martin High School where he was class president his sophomore, junior and senior years. Following World War II service in the U.S. Army, including duty on Leyte Island in the Philippines, Michael continued his education at Texas Christian University, earning a B.S. degree in Accounting and Business Management, and an M. Ed. degree in Educational Administration. He later studied at Hartford Seminary Foundation in Hartford, Conn., the Escuela de Idiomas in San Jose, Costa Rica, and College of the Bible (now Lexington Theological Seminary) in Lexington, Kentucky. In 1961 he received a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania.
From 1954 until 1965, Michael served as a missionary of the United Christian Missionary Society (UCMS), a predecessor mission body of Global Ministries, in Puerto Rico where he provided training and guidance in stewardship and administration, leading to the construction of many churches, schools, and parsonages of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Puerto Rico. He also served on the boards of the Puerto Rico Council of Churches and the Seminario Evangelico de Puerto Rico, and led in the construction of the ecumenical Centro Evangelico.
Michael was the founding president of the Northwest Campus of Tarrant County College. He was a founding member and president of the Texas Association of Chicanos in Higher Education and the National Hispanic Leadership Council of the American Association of Community Colleges. He was a member of the Advisory Committee of the Select Committee on Higher Education of the State of Texas, and of the Texas A&M University Community College Leadership Development Program. He was a founder of the National Hispanic Leadership Institute.
Mike's strong commitment to education led to a second career in that field, in which he tirelessly strove to encourage others to better themselves by attending college. He served as academic dean of Laredo Junior College (now Laredo Community College) from 1971-1975, and as president of the Northwest Campus of Tarrant County Junior College (now Tarrant County College) from 1975 until his retirement in 2006 at age 81.
Mike's service through his church continued in many ways throughout his life. After his missionary service he was an executive in the general offices in Indianapolis, Indiana and later served a member of its General Board, and as Vice Moderator of the denomination's General Assembly. He served on the boards of the World Convention of Churches of Christ, Juliette Fowler Homes in Dallas, Brite Divinity School and of his alma mater, Texas Christian University. He served as an Elder in Third Christian Church in Philadelphia, First Christian Church in Laredo, and University Christian Church in Fort Worth.
Michael was a member of Rotary Clubs in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, Laredo and Fort Worth. In Fort Worth, he was a member of the City of Fort Worth and the Fort Worth Independent School District Committee on Education. He served on the boards of the United Way, the National Conference for Christians and Jews (now the National Conference for Community and Justice), and was a member of the founding board of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas.
Mike and Nancy shared a special pleasure in travel with their children and Nancy’s mother, Vallie King. They traveled from border to border and coast to coast in the U.S. and to many parts of Canada and Mexico. The family traveled around the world before Mick and Cindy left for college. In 2000, the year of their 50th anniversary, Mike suggested that a longtime wish of Nancy's, a ride on the Trans-Siberian train, be part of a second trip around the world. For their last whole-family trip, Mike, Nancy, Cindy and her family, and with Mick and his family made their way to the Olympics in Athens, Greece in 2004.
Michael was preceded in death by his parents, his sister Zulema Daves, and his brother Temo Saenz. He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Nancy; his son, Michael King Saenz and his wife Faith Ayala; his daughter, Cynthia Elizabeth Ward and her husband Michael; his grandsons, Alexander Ward, Christopher Ward and Evan Saenz; his sisters, Leonor Daves and her husband, John, and Dora Best and her husband, Leon; and by four nieces and seven nephews.
A memorial service honoring Michael Saenz was held on November 9, 2016 at University Christian Church of Fort Worth, Texas. The family requests that memorial gifts be sent to Brite Divinity School, TCU Box 298130, Attn: Dr. Brandon Cline, Fort Worth, Texas 76129, or to the Tarrant County College Foundation, 1500 Houston, Fort Worth, Texas 76102, designating the Dr. Michael Saenz Scholarship on the memo line.