Born in the Mission District of San Francisco on March 6, 1946, young Michael attended St. Paul’s Grammar School and St. Ignatius College Preparatory (Class of 1964). He graduated from the University of San Francisco in 1968 and entered the Jesuit Novitiate at Santa Barbara to began his studies for the priesthood. He earned an MA in history from Loyola Marymount University and pursued philosophical studies at Gonzaga University. Theological studies were made at the Jesuit School of Theology, Berkeley, and he was ordained a priest in 1978. Fr. Kotlanger pursued doctoral studies in history at Arizona State University, earning his PhD in 1983. He also received his certificate from the U.S. National Archives in 1985.
Over the years, Fr. Kotlanger taught all levels, from grade school to graduate students. Before ordination, he was involved in summer programs at St. Paul’s Grammar School, overseeing the athletic program and leading a cooking seminar for 9- to 13-year-olds. The high school history classroom was also his domain, both at Jesuit High School, Sacramento, 1973-75, where he also served as department chair and soccer coach, and at St. Ignatius College Prep, San Francisco, 1994-2004.
At the university level, he was lecturer in history at USF, 1983-94, assistant dean in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, 1985-86, and university archivist, 1985 until his death. As archivist, he delighted in assisting the USF publications staff with photos and backstories from the university’s rich history for publications ranging from the university’s magazine to student recruitment pieces. In addition to his academic life, Fr. Kotlanger was a dedicated priest, serving on weekends at his home parish, St. Paul’s, for decades.
Fr. Kotlanger is survived by his mother Margaret, his sisters Patricia (Robert) Lazzaretto and Marianne (Michael) Booth, his brother John (Lesley) Kotlanger. He was beloved uncle of Teresa and Robert Lazzaretto, Meghan and Brendan Kotlanger, Annemarie Phelps, Michael T. Booth, and Kathleen Hultin. He was great-uncle to Margaret and Thomas Phelps and Michael and Elizabeth Hultin.
Funeral services will be held October 10 at St. Paul's Church, 221 Valley Street (at Church) San Francisco, with Rosary at 11:45 a.m., and Mass of Christian Burial at 12:15 p.m. Interment will take place 10:30 a.m. October 12, at Santa Clara Mission Cemetery, 490 Lincoln Street, Santa Clara.