Cover photo for Dennis Winfield's Obituary
Dennis Winfield Profile Photo
1938 Dennis 2017

Dennis Winfield

February 16, 1938 — October 5, 2017

Dennis Duane Winfield, age 79, of Ripon, passed away on Thursday, October 5, 2017, at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center in Neenah, WI.

Dennis was born on February 16, 1938, in Kansas, Oklahoma, the fourth child of Percy Doyle and Della Van Matre Winfield. He graduated from Kansas High School in 1956. In 1960, Dennis graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Speech and Social Sciences from Northeastern State University in Tahlaqua, Oklahoma. He would later pattern his coaching style and philosophy to those of Dr. David Littlefield, one of his mentors at NSU.

From 1961 through 1963, he taught speech and social studies in Pryor, Oklahoma High School. From 1963 through 1965, he was an instructor and principal for grades 1 through 8 in Mayes County Country School, which was predominantly an Amish school community.

In 1965 and 1966, he taught in Northeast High School in Oklahoma City. He served as Youth Director at the Epworth Methodist Church in Oklahoma City from 1966 through 1967, and in 1967, he taught speech and social studies in Putnam City High School in Oklahoma.

Dennis' life significantly changed in 1968. He left Oklahoma to accept a speech and social studies position at Central High School in Davenport, Iowa. It was then that he met Collette Mikesell who was Director of Forensics and Debate at Cedar Falls High School in Iowa. They were married in February of 1970. Dennis took a position as Director of Forensics and Debate at East High School in Waterloo. He and Collette spent the next year with their students competing against each other for trophies in debate and individual speech events.

Collette stopped teaching. Their first son, Brian Wade, was born on October 24, 1971.

Dennis coached and taught in Waterloo's East High School from 1970 through 1973. During that time, he was elected as National Forensic League Chairman for the East Iowa NFL District. In addition to serving as Coordinator of Speech Activities for the Waterloo, Iowa schools, he was also hired as Director of Public Relations for the Waterloo Community School District.

In 1975, he ran for the National Forensic League Executive Council that legislates and approves policy for the thousands of high schools who compete in forensic activities throughout the United States. He won. Also, on March 3, 1975, their second son, Gavin Doyle, was born. One year later in 1976, he was elected President of the National Forensic League Council. During that same year, he became the Director of Multi-Ethnic Education for the Waterloo Community Schools in Iowa.

In October of 1977, Dennis took over the highest position in the National Forensic League; that of Executive Director. He and his family moved to Ripon. He served as Executive Director until 1986. During his years in that position as Executive Director, Dennis not only engineered tremendous growth in numbers of high school memberships; he also staved off an attempt to move the national office of the NFL to Texas. Dennis was elected into the National Forensic League Hall of Fame in 1980.

Following his NFL work, Dennis opened and operated a sports store called the Sports Stop on Watson Street in 1987. It was a favorite hang-out for many skate boarders. On July 18, 1992, Dennis and Collette's eldest grandson, Brandon, was born. Dennis became a “stay-at-home grandpa,” helping however he could during the early, intermediate, and high school years.

Dennis loved baseball and particularly when a son or grandson was on the field. He could often be found with a clip board in hand at Barlow, among hundreds of other ball diamonds including Carthage, ready to add up RBI's or calculate ERA's. He was elected Fan of the Year by players and fans of the Ripon American Legion.

Dennis was elected President of the school board in 1978, and held that position for numerous years. He earned his Master Mason Award in March of 2012 for 25 years of service.

On July 19, 1999, Dennis and Collette's second grandson, Terran Reid Winfield, was born; and on October 29, 2012, their third grandson, Bryce Christopher.

He is survived by his wife Collette, his two sons, Wade (Michele) in Lake Geneva, and Gavin (Amy) in Ripon; and three grandsons, Brandon, Terran, and Bryce. Dennis is preceded in death by his father, Percy; his mother, Della; his older brothers and sister; Eugene, Joe, and Wanda.

In compliance with Dennis' wishes, his family will hold no formal services or public visitation. Friends may offer monetary tributes in Dennis' name to the National Parkinson's Association, 135 Parkinson Avenue, Staten Island, NY, 10305.

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