On Thursday, April 1, 2021, Michael E. Greenwood, a loving partner and father of three sons, passed away at the age of 79 from hepatic angiosarcoma, a rare liver cancer. Just a few weeks ago, he was jogging, swimming, and bicycling in Arizona with his dear partner, Kathy Murphy.
Michael was born in Vancouver, Wash. Memorial Hospital on May 8, 1941, to I.M. “Mike” and Rowena Greenwood. A 1959 graduate of Vancouver High School, Clark College honored him in 2013 when he received the Clark College Outstanding Alumni Award.
Greenwood received an associate of arts from Clark College in 1961, a bachelor of science in mathematics and a master of science in mathematics education from Oregon State University, a master of business administration from City University, and a doctorate of philosophy in mathematics education from the University of Illinois.
He was a professor in the Clark College mathematics department from 1966 to 1996, an adjunct instructor periodically from 2000 to 2009, and President of the Clark College Faculty Association in 1973. He was a Clark College wrestling coach from 1966 to 1969, co-coach of Clark College’s AMATYC Student Math League team which finished first in the Pacific Northwest Region and ninth in the nation in 1996, and was a Penguin Athletic Club board member from 2005 until its closure in 2016.
Greenwood served on the Vancouver School Board from 1977 to 1989 and as board president in 1981, 1983, and 1985. He also served on the board of directors for Southwest Washington Independent Forward Trust from 1989 to 1991 and was a mathematics teacher at Ridgefield High School in 1963 to 1965.
Greenwood, Ph.D., spent a portion of his professional teaching career in Russia, as a Senior Fulbright Lecturer from 1996 to 97, where he taught at Krasnoyarsk State University and Krasnoyarsk State Pedagogical Institute. During this time he made friends throughout Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan while helping small businesses.
Relationships made while overseas saw him work with the oil industry, where he visited exotic locales in Southeast Asia, spent time on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, and went to Wyoming. He also spent as much time as he could in the mountain ranges of eastern Europe and central Asia, often climbing with guides and college students a third his age. These trips were occasionally spiced up by trying to find ways of crossing borders without proper paperwork.
Back home, Greenwood enjoyed heading in a different direction: He loved caving and exploring lava tubes throughout Gifford Pinchot National Forest. No paperwork needed. He also participated in the Hood To Coast relay with a team from Clark College from 1986 to 2006.
He was also an accomplished wrestler in his youth, winning the 163-pound weight class at the Mid-American Wrestling Championships in 1975 after wrestling at Clark and for famed Oregon State University wrestling coach, Dale Thomas. He wrestled competitively into his 30s – logging many hours on the mat at the Multnomah Athletic Club.
Those friendships made on the mat stayed with him for decades. Although he had many successes in his life, he could never quite convince his sons - or his grandchildren - to take up the sport. His cauliflower ears were always a huge hit, though. And he was always there to help coach baseball, soccer, and anywhere else his boys needed him.
Later in life, Greenwood spent many years thriving in Arizona, where the weather allowed him to work on his golf game. The only thing he loved more than playing golf was calling back home to ask his middle son how the weather was in Vancouver. In February.
The last few years of his life were spent back home in Vancouver, where he organized a Sprint Triathlon for three generations of Greenwoods in August of 2020. He even finished first in his age group! He never hid the fact of how happy he was to be back home, spending as much time with his family as possible and helping where he could.
Whether it was building ornate staircases with his brother-in-law, castrating a bull with his nephew, working through math homework with his grandkids, working on interior and exterior home improvement jobs with anyone who would ask, and anything else friends or family needed, he was there. He will be missed by a great many. Except maybe that bull.
Michael was preceded in death by his father, Mike; mother, Rowena; and sister, Gayla. He is survived by his partner, Kathy Murphy; sons, Kevin (Stefanie) of Waldport, Ore., Kyle of Vancouver, Wash., and Corey of San Diego, Cal.; sister, Karla (Ron) of Vancouver, Wash.; and numerous grandchildren, cousins, and nephews.
He will be interred at Park Hill Cemetery in Vancouver, WA. A video commemorating his life can be found here: https://bit.ly/2PMmDvp.