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Dr. Michael B.
August 20,1933 - July 27,2014


     Michael B. Preston was born on August 20, 1933 to Marie Becknell and Dwight Mirabeau Pope Preston of Tyler, Texas. Dwight was a master plumber and electrician who owned a successful plumbing business and Marie was a dedicated school teacher. Michael’s siblings were Dwight Preston Jr., Doris Rose Preston, Gwendolyn Faye Preston, Scherry “Cookie” Preston Levi, and Artis Laval Preston. (Dwight and Doris Rose preceded Michael in death.)  Upon completion of high school, Michael attended Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, where he played football and excelled academically in his studies.

      Michael’s first marriage brought forth a son, Michael B. Preston Jr.  His second marriage was to Mary E. Metters, and they became the proud parents of four daughters: Sherry L. Coleman, Sonja L. Preston, Adrienne L. Fregia, and Rymicha L. Jennings.  Michael was an excellent provider. During his early years, he often worked two jobs because his daughters were very high maintenance.

     After graduating from Wiley College, Michael enlisted in the United States Army and was honorably discharged.  He later enrolled in the University of California, Berkeley where he studied with renowned political scientist, Aaron B. Wildavsky and earned his doctorate degree.

    Michael’s first academic appointment was in 1973 at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana.  As an academic scholar, he would distinguish himself, becoming an expert in urban, racial, ethnic, and Black politics. In 1986, Michael accepted a teaching position with the University of Southern California where he started and implemented USC’s first course on Black politics, and later led a key initiative shared by USC Dornsife and the Office of the Provost to recruit minority and women scholars.  Michael served as Political Science Department Chair from 1989-1995 and was later appointed as Vice Provost for Strategic Initiatives.

   For many years, Michael provided wise counsel on a range of topics, to USC provosts and presidents, as well as various deans of Dornsife College. He was an inspiration to many USC faculty, especially those of color, for his commitment to excellence and diversity in the faculty ranks. During his decades of service to USC, he was a superb mentor to undergraduate and graduate students alike. Michael’s legacy is indeed filled with teaching, service and mentoring.

   After nearly 30 years at USC, having served on 33 dissertation and masters thesis committees, Michael retired in April 2013.  He was the author of several books. At the time of his passing, he was completing a co-authored book entitled California Diversity in State Politics and was co-authoring an article detailing the events of the 2013 Los Angeles mayoral race.

   Michael’s accolades are many. Among his awards are the Frank J. Goodnow Award for Distinguished Service from the American Political Science Association (APSA) in 2004, APSA’s Career Achievement Award in 2013, and Outstanding Black Faculty Mentor Award from the USC African American Graduation Committee in 2013.

   Beyond his professional achievements and strong commitment to family, Michael was known for his deep intellect, sharp wit, and unparalleled humor.  He was an avid golfer and sports enthusiast.  Michael was a season ticket holder and diehard Trojan football fan.  Every year, for the past 17 years, much to their joy, his family received a USC sweatshirt in their Christmas stockings along with a pair of Rose Bowl tickets. Jazz and blues music was another one of his passions. He especially enjoyed Duke Ellington, Billy Holiday, Sarah Vaughn, and Barbara Morrison.

  In his leisure time, Michael loved to read suspense novels, play dominoes and Bid Whist. He was fiercely competitive and under no circumstances would he allow his children to win whenever they played with him. Early Saturday mornings, Michael would often be found at his favorite breakfast spot, Pann’s reading his morning paper, or at Starbucks ordering a Grande non-fat dry cappuccino while holding court with political enthusiasts. His favorite evening spot was Shanghai Reds. He would be found seated at an ocean side view, sipping Merlot, and dining on sautéed scallops. Michael was an awesome father, a dynamic educator and a bridge builder connecting countless people to their destinies.

  Michael is survived by son Michael B. Preston; daughters Sherry Coleman, Sonja Preston, Adrienne Fregia and Rymicha Jennings; grandchildren Ashley Coleman, Anthony Preston, Danielle Fregia, Preston Fregia, Aaron Jennings and Rhema Jennings; sons-in-law Larry Coleman, Paul Fregia and Jeffery Jennings; Preston great-grandchildren: Alicia, Asia, Arianna, Aaliyah, Amyah, and Anthony Jr.; nephews Spencer Preston, Dwight Preston III, John Preston, Ronald Preston, Stephon Preston, Shelley Edward Levi; Artis Preston Jr.; and Deartis Preston; nieces Cynthia Barfield, Deborah Amie, Rosalin Knox, Charita Day Preston, Shawn Preston and Eva Marende. A host of family, friends and colleagues share in this tremendous loss. Michael B. Preston will be remembered and his legacy honored through the lives and work of all of those he loved and inspired.




Interment: Friday, August 15, 2014- 11:00 am - V.A Riverside National Cemetery

Memorial Service - Saturday, August 16, 2014 - 4:00pm - U.S.C Caruso Catholic Center

844 W. 32nd Street - Los Angeles, CA 90007




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