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University Relations

July 28, 2008 Communique

Dr. Denys Volan

Dr. Denys VolanDr. Denys Volan passed away on Tuesday, July 15, 2008. First and foremost, he was a dedicated husband, father and family leader – a person who’s strength, integrity and commitment lives on in each member of his family. He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Catherine Volan; his son Gregory Volan; his daughter, Barbara Christensen; his son, Philip Volan and his sister Dorothy Diamond.

Legions of students at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs and The Colorado College will fondly remember him as a talented teacher who made the study of history come alive for them. Denys was also a dedicated civil servant with over 26 years of service for the United States Air Force as Chief, Command History, Air Defense Command.

Denys was born in New York City on June 19th, 1916 to Dimitri and Sophia Volanopulo who had recently emigrated to the U.S. from Koroni, Greece. Along with his sister Dorothy, he grew up in the Washington Heights district of Manhattan where he attended PS189 and George Washington High School. He 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.

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. In 1969, he received his Doctorate in History from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Denys Volan served in the Army Air Corps from 1942 through 1946. He was commissioned as a First Lieutenant and served as an 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.

After his discharge from the Army Air Corps, Denys began his civil service career as an Historian for the Air Force. In 1951 he 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. He retired from the Civil Service in 1972 as Chief, Command History, Office of the Chief of Staff.

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. 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 it is a powerful force in his family.

Please visit for more information and to leave messages and condolences. Friends can also contact Phil Volan at (719) 237-9189, or Barb Christensen at (719) 495-0458.


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