Michael Henry Dean, 78, passed away peacefully on February 14, 2021 at Hospice Alliance/Hospice House from a brain tumor.
Mike was the youngest of twins born to Milton C. Dean, Sr., and Shirley (Jacobs) Dean on May 16, 1942 at St. Catherine’s Hospital in Kenosha. He spent his formative years at McKinley Elementary and Junior High Schools. Mike graduated from Mary D. Bradford High School in 1960 and attended what was then called the Extension (U.W.-Parkside) for two years. Until Mike left for college, he spent his summers honing his math and people skills while working at his dad’s fruit market. Mike went on to get a bachelor’s degree in education and his master’s degree from UW-Whitewater. Mike made Janesville, WI his home where he taught 6th grade at Madison Elementary, Monroe Elementary, and later at Franklin Middle School. He married Anna Moss and they had two children, Steve and Katie.
It was during his 38-year career teaching Social Studies that Mike’s talents really blossomed. He was known for his creative and immersive units, for making his classrooms fun, and for taking time for each student. Whether it was opening the gym for students to play basketball before school, coaching after school, or lending a sympathetic ear to a student in need, Mike was deeply involved in student lives inside the classroom and out.
Mike’s son, Steve, started a group called “Mr. Dean Memories” on Facebook in November for Mike’s former students to post comments and memories about him. To date, more than 1,200 members have posted, including students, parents of students, and former colleagues. One of his former students commented (in relation to his teaching style), “Part Socratic method, part Evangelist, and part Broadway actor.”
Mike’s creativity and excellence in teaching earned him Teacher of the Year twice in Janesville. Mike was also a recipient of the Herbert Kohl Fellowship, recognizing teaching excellence and innovation in Wisconsin. He also started College for Kids in the Janesville area.
Upon retirement, Mike moved back to Kenosha and jumped into life in his hometown with characteristic enthusiasm. He became a volunteer at the Kenosha Public Museums, as well as becoming a museum board member and serving on his condo association board. Always a teacher, Mike held the attention of hundreds of elementary students with his knowledge of the woolly mammoth. He also taught lessons on sign language, a skill he learned in order to communicate with his hearing-impaired daughter. Mike also served on the Bradford Alumni Board and was employed part-time as a bailiff at the Kenosha County Courthouse. He was well-known for his witty My Turn columns and Voice of the People letters in the Kenosha News.
Mike looked forward to getting together every summer with his high school classmates, doing yoga at least twice a week, playing men’s senior baseball in Racine, and listening to live music by the lakefront with Wendy. Visits from his children included philosophical discussions with Steve, walks on the lakefront, and making crafts with Katie. He was known for his beautiful smile, his pride in being a “lefty”, and as a lifetime “die hard” Cubs fan.
Mike is survived by his son, Steven Michael Dean (Kristi Ackerman), of Edgerton, WI, his daughter, Katherine Emily Dean, of Whitewater, WI, and his fiancée, Wendy Taylor, of Kenosha. He is also survived by his twin brother Milton (Jackie) Dean, Jr., his sister, Sheryl Becker, and his brother Douglas (Corinne) Dean, of Whitefish Bay, WI, as well as several nieces and nephews, and his former wife.
He was preceded in death by his parents and his brother-in-law, Robert W. Becker.
Mike’s family wishes to thank the nurses and personnel of Kenosha Hospice Alliance who treated him with such kindness and compassion, as well as the doctors and nurses at Froedtert Hospitals in Milwaukee and Kenosha.
What we are is God’s gift to us; What we become is our gift to God.
Funeral services honoring Michael’s life will be held privately.
The service may be viewed via livestream on Tuesday, February 23, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. on the following link: facebook.com/PiaseckiFuneralHome/live/ (you do not need Facebook to watch).
Inurnment will be held at a later date.
Memorial remembrances may be made in Mike’s name to one of the following:
Kenosha Hospice Alliance
10220 Prairie Ridge Blvd.
Pleasant Prairie, WI 53158
Kenosha Public Museum
5500 1st Ave.
Kenosha, WI, 53140
Special Olympics Wisconsin
2310 Crossroads Drive, Suite 1000
Madison, WI 53718