Monica Brzezinski Potkay

May 22, 1957 - April 6, 2018
Monica Brzezinski Potkay

Gifts & Memorial Donations

Williamsburg—Monica Brzezinski Potkay, 60, died on April 6 in Hospice care, surrounded by family and caring nurses.  The cause of her death was bile duct cancer.

Monica was born in Chicago on May 22, 1957, and was proud to have grown up in the South Side neighborhood known as “Back of the Yards.”  She received her BA and MA degrees from Loyola University, Chicago, and a PhD in medieval literature from the University of Virginia.  Monica taught for three decades in the English Department at the College of William & Mary, where she also served in her last years as Assistant Dean of Academic Advising and Undergraduate Education.  She co-wrote with her husband and colleague Adam Potkay a popular series of recorded lectures on the Bible and literature. Monica was a devout member of Saint Olaf’s Catholic Church.  She enjoyed European travel, ancient and modern languages, Polish-American traditions and Italian cuisine, opera and AM radio, films and mystery novels, crossword puzzles, and her brisk daily walk.  She greatly loved and was loved greatly by her family, friends, colleagues and neighbors, many of whom offered invaluable support during her difficult final months.

Monica is survived by her husband Adam; their son, Aaron; her brother, Tim Brzezinski, sister-in-law Kim, niece Sarah and nephew Luke; mother-in-law, Barbara Potkay; and other relatives and friends.

Funeral Services will be held at St. Olaf’s Catholic Church on April 12th at 12:00 PM.   In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Hospice House and Support care of Williamsburg, the Massey Cancer Center, Saint Olaf Food Pantry, or a charity of your choice.

Visiting hours will be held on April 11th from 5:00 – 7:00 PM, at Bucktrout Funeral Home of Williamsburg.


Thursday, April 12, 2018
12:00 PM

St. Olaf Catholic Church - Directions
104 Norge Lane
Williamsburg, VA 23188


Wednesday, April 11, 2018
5:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Bucktrout Funeral Home - Directions
4124 Ironbound Road
Williamsburg, VA 23188

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  • June 06, 2023
    Tim Brzezinski says:
    Monica I love you and miss our long talks. Say hi to mom and dad for me. Rest in peace you deserve it. Love Tim

  • April 08, 2018
    Desiree Floyd says:
    I remember wishing I had been able to take a class from Dr. Brezinzski Potkay. I was focusing more on the 18th century and didn’t end up having room because of a double major that I now sorely regret. Richard, my husband, did take a class from her and I’m so glad he did. We plan to be there to pay our respects and to offer help. Please feel free to ride with us if you are coming from UVA.

  • April 08, 2018
    Julia R lit a candle:
    Lit since April 8, 2018 at 4:17:42 PM

  • April 09, 2018
    John Lewis says:
    Terrible news. Dr. Potkay was a wonderful, supportive professor who went above and beyond to help. She was one of the main reasons I continued my studies in Old English after graduating from W&M. Her enthusiasm and love for the language and literature was contagious. I only saw her a few times after graduating - the last time being several years ago. She was happy to catch up for a few minutes - asking how I was and what I had been doing and chatting about a good friend of mine who went through the class at the same time. My condolences to the family and friends.

  • April 09, 2018
    Tina CoyneSmith says:
    All the CoyneSmith love we can send goes out to Adam and Aaron. I loved Monica. Today I am thinking of living with the Potkays as her nanny the year Aaron was born, learning Old English and talking about the properties it shares with Klingon, writing my Beowulf thesis under her tutelage, performing the annual Christmas medieval mystery play under her direction on the stairs of Tucker Hall, and reading so many years of an amazing Christmas letter. William & Mary has lost a force.