Michael Joseph Devine ’21, beloved friend, son and brother, passed away suddenly on Feb. 6, 2022. He was 23 years old.
Devine, known as “Mike” to friends and family, graduated from Kenyon last spring with a degree in history. He was particularly passionate about his Irish heritage and studied abroad in Dublin during his junior year as part of the Arcadia Abroad program.
Following his graduation, Devine dedicated himself to the field of law, working as a paralegal at John P. Brennan Jr. Law. He had recently been accepted to multiple law schools, earning scholarships from all of them.
“He called me the day he got his decisions back, and he was so excited,” Devine’s friend Andris Balodis ’20 said. “It was a big relief off his shoulders.”
A student-athlete and member of Kenyon’s chapter of Delta Tau Delta, Devine surrounded himself with friends throughout his undergraduate career. Niall Regan ’21 and Adam Pollock ’21 spoke passionately about Devine’s commitment to his friendships, recalling their late-night Jeopardy arguments, spontaneous trips to the Village Inn and frequent sports banter.
“Mike was a breath of fresh air,” Regan said. “He was such a great friend. For better or for worse, he prioritized friendships and having a good time before all else. There are such great people at Kenyon, but it’s very hard to come by the amount of loyalty that Mike had for his friends and that we had for him.”
Devine played football throughout his time on the hill, earning the nickname “The Fridge” from his teammates for his tenacity and formidable presence on the field.
“We helped Mike move in, and there’s this iconic photo of him carrying a fridge down the steps… He was really an immovable object, that’s how I can describe him on the football field,” said Trevor Brown ’20, one of Devine’s close friends and teammates.
Devine was equally successful in the classroom, according to his professors and friends. Professor of History Nurten Kilic-Schubel and Professor of History Hilary Buxton fondly remembered working closely with Devine on his senior capstone project for history, where he looked into Bobby Sands and the 1981 Republican prisoners’ hunger strike, exploring how Northern Irish Republicans incorporated themselves into a larger history of martyrdom in Ireland. Buxton called it “fascinating work.”
“It was a great joy and rewarding experience working with Michael on his project,” Kilic-Schubel wrote in an email to the Collegian. “His passion for Irish history was contagious. I was especially moved by the way in which he connected with the poetry he used in his thesis, which showed his gentle soul and empathetic nature.”
His friends, too, spoke to the ways in which Devine extended his soul to others. “He was like a big teddy bear, always giving hugs,” Regan said. “If you half-assed him with one arm, he’d be like, ‘no no no no, bring it in, come here.’ He was very loving of those around him.”
Devine’s funeral took place on Saturday, Feb. 12 and Sunday, Feb. 13 at the John E. Day Funeral Home in N.J. According to his friends and family, hundreds of people showed up to the ceremony, demonstrating just how much Devine meant to a large number of people.
In reflecting on his time with Devine, Brown expressed how deep their bond was after just four years. “The time at Kenyon is so precious,” he said. “Although it is such a short period of time, do not underestimate the extent of the bonds you create there. It feels like I’ve known Mike my entire life.”
In celebration of Devine’s life and legacy at Kenyon, Kenyon’s Department of History is holding a ceremony on Thursday, March 3, during common hour (11:10 a.m.-12 p.m.) in Samuel Mather 201. The department will remember Devine through readings and reminiscences, and invite the entire Kenyon community to join in remembrance.
Michael is survived by his parents, Kathleen of Lakewood, N.J. and Donald J. of Red Bank, N.J.; his sister Mary Rose of Willington, Conn. and his brother Robert of Austin, Texas; his maternal grandfather, Robert Beyer of Nutley, N.J.; his paternal grandmother, Joan Devine of Red Bank, N.J.; his godparents, Chuck and Ellen McFadden; his aunts, uncles, cousins and countless friends made in New Jersey, at Kenyon College and all of the other places he spent his years.