The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Dean Erickson

 

November 20, 2017

TEEC-NOS-POS, Ariz. - Dean Everett Erickson, 60, passed away on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017, at his home in Teec-Nos-Pos.

He was born in Ironwood, Mich., on Dec. 28, 1956, to Bertha (Kooping) and Everett Erickson, and graduated from Luther L. Wright High School in Ironwood in 1975.

Dean was a well-rounded standout student-athlete. He earned varsity letters in basketball (3), football (2), track (2), baseball (1) and tennis (1). He was a natural born leader both on and off the field (or court). Dean also played the lead role in his senior class play. In 2010, Dean was inducted into the Ironwood High School Sports Hall of Fame with his 1975 basketball team.

Dean continued his education at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, where he played both football and baseball, and then transferred to UW-Eau Claire to complete his bachelor's degree in physical education.

Dean began his teaching career at Judson High School, a private school in Wheaton, Ill. After four years he transferred to the Judson High School in Paradise Valley, Ariz., where he became the dean of students, taught at the high school, and coached girls softball and boys baseball and soccer. Dean had never played soccer, but he eagerly took on the challenge, and in only a few years his soccer team won multiple state championships. Dean remained active in his own athletic career (baseball, softball, golf and basketball), and almost won a national championship in men's softball in the late 90s.

Around 2004, Dean temporarily switched careers to work for a successful contracting company out of Phoenix, developing new residential neighborhoods. After a few years working construction, Dean returned to what he truly loved - teaching and coaching.

Dean moved to the Navajo Reservation near the "Four Corners" in northeastern Arizona where he taught all grades (K-12) in the Red Mesa School District, coached the boys varsity and JV basketball, and announced football games. With his positive attitude, ever-present smile and never-say-die attitude, he quickly became a beloved teacher and coach, and an esteemed colleague. The people of the Navajo Nation accepted him into their family and in fact, gave him a standing ovation when he walked into the gym before a basketball game upon his return from a lengthy recovery from a hip fracture a couple of years ago.

He was at Red Mesa for almost nine years, and took it upon himself to offer open gym nights for families and took students to off season basketball tournaments around Arizona and New Mexico, and to Phoenix for professional sporting events. He worked hard to provide his students with opportunities they wouldn't normally be given, stressed the fundamental skills both in class and on the court, and made class and practices both pertinent and fun. He was tremendously proud of their successes.

Over the past few years, Dean had been battling a very difficult debilitating disease. He had always been a favorite of his students, players and colleagues at Red Mesa, but because of his never-ending determination and will to fight through pain and mobility limitations, he became a permanent inspiration to all those around him. Dean never complained, or asked for help. Instead, he proved to everyone that nothing should limit you, and did so with a smile on his face every day - a powerful message that will live on in everyone who had the opportunity to know him. Although Dean never married or had children of his own, he guided and encouraged thousands of students, all of which he treated and cared for as his own throughout his entire 30-plus years of teaching and coaching.

Dean was preceded in death by his sister, Gail in 1974; father, Everett in 1983, and brother-in-law, David Lucas in 2015.

He is survived by his mother, Bertha; sister, Marsha; three nephews; several cousins; his Navajo Nation family; and a multitude of fabulous friends. Dean was a caring, kind and fun person who will be missed by all, but never forgotten.

A memorial service will be held at St Paul Lutheran Church on Curry Street in Ironwood on Wednesday, Nov 22. The church will be open from 9 to 11 a.m. to meet with family and friends. The funeral will be at 11 a.m. with Rev. Lisa Ubbelohde officiating.

A lunch will be served immediately afterward in the basement of the church.

Spring burial will be in the Sunset Acres Cemetery in Ironwood Township.

In lieu of flowers, any contributions made will be donated in memory of Dean Erickson to the Red Mesa School District-HC 61, Box 40, Teec Nos Pos, AZ 86514.

Arrangements are with Range Funeral Service and Crematory, Ketola-Burla Funeral Home of Ironwood. To send online condolences visit rangefuneralservices.com.

 
 

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