Dean A. Woelfle
12/6/1946 - 3/7/2018
PEKIN ~ Dean Arthur Woelfle, 71, beloved teacher and community leader, passed away on Wednesday, March 7, 2018, at UnityPoint Health-Methodist in Peoria, Illinois.
Born December 6, 1946, in Summit, Illinois, Dean was adopted by Arthur Henry and Hilma (Hild) Woelfle of Pekin. He married Martha Ann (Green) Woelfle on December 30, 1967, at the St. James United Church of Christ in Limerick, Pennsylvania.
Surviving are his wife, Martha “Marti”; two daughters, Lynette (Joel) Steger of Pekin and Lara (Nathan) Kline of Washington, D.C.; one son, Brian Woelfle of Peoria; one granddaughter, London Woelfle of Peoria; four grandsons, Benjamin Steger and Noah Steger of Pekin and Gabriel Kline and Jacob Kline of Washington, D.C.; and sister, Eunice Woelfle of East Peoria.
His parents preceded him in death, as well as his aunts, Freda Marie Hild and Alberta (Roswell) Gray: and uncle, Roswell Gray.
After graduating from Pekin Community High School in 1964, Dean earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in secondary education and political science from The Hiram Scott College in Scottsbluff, Nebraska in 1969 and a Master of Arts Degree in school administration from Bradley University in 1971. Always seeking to increase his knowledge of the social sciences, he completed extensive post-graduate studies related to his teaching field.
Teaching was Dean’s passion. He was an American Government and History teacher at East Peoria Community High School (EPCHS) District 309 for 36 years, retiring in 2005. He continued to substitute teach for another decade. During these 46 years, it is estimated he taught nearly 35,000 students. He will be remembered for his love of teaching, dedication to his students, and commitment to his colleagues. In 1986, he founded Project Graduation, a school/parent/community program that provides a safe post-graduation celebration for students.
Due to health problems, Dean was unable to return for the 2015 fall semester. Much to his surprise the students noticed and planned a surprise. They invited him to serve as grand marshal of the homecoming parade. Afterwards, he was recognized by the students for his contributions to the school and community and given an “encouraging boost” through the VING Project. This national organization provides high school students with grants to recognize individuals within their community. He immediately contributed the grant to Project Graduation.
Dean was an Eagle Scout and inducted into the Order of the Arrow. He remained active in the Boy Scouts of America serving as a scout leader and merit badge counselor. A member of the Pekin Community High School Class of 1964, he also served as class treasurer for over 50 years.
Dean was a longtime member and past president of the Pekin Public Schools District 108 Board of Education having served 16 years from 1977 to 1993. He was an active lifetime member of the Illinois Education Association and National Education Association serving in many capacities. Due to his experiences with young people, in 1979, he was instrumental in founding the Tazewell County Deferred Prosecution program, which provides first-time offenders with opportunities to turn their lives around.
He loved spending time with his family and sharing his interest in birds and wildlife and converted the family’s yard into a certified Wildlife Habitat recognized by the National Wildlife Federation. Concerned about the negative impact of industry on the environment, he was also an active Sierra Club member. He was of the Lutheran faith.
Beginning in 2004, Dean experienced numerous health issues. With each illness came new challenges, but thanks to the dedication, knowledge, and skills of the Peoria-area medical community, he was able to maintain an active life centered around family and teaching. Ever the teacher, during hospital stays, he frequently provided learning opportunities for medical students who were completing training in their chosen fields of study. In the final days of Dean’s life, he recognized that his health would prevent him from returning to the classroom; however, he was determined that his teaching days were not over. At his request, his body was donated to medical science so he can continue to teach by helping prepare the next generation of medical professionals and researchers. His new teaching career could last several years.
In keeping with Dean’s desire to connect with family, friends, colleagues, and former students, an “Open House to Celebrate Dean Woelfle’s Life” will be held at the East Peoria Community High School on 1401 East Washington Road from 1 to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, March 28, 2018. The family is inviting those who have been a part of Dean’s life to meet each other, enjoy a walk down memory lane, and if they wish, share their memories. The Rev. Judy Steger Kennedy will officiate during a time of celebration beginning at 2 p.m.
Inurnment will be in Lakeside Cemetery in Pekin at a later date. Preston-Hanley Funeral Homes & Crematory in Pekin is assisting his family with arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the East Peoria Community High School Dean Woelfle Memorial Fund, 1401 E. Washington Street, East Peoria, IL 61611 or the Illinois CancerCare Foundation, 8940 N. Wood Sage Road, Peoria, IL 61615 or the American Heart Association, 2141 W. White Oaks Dr. #A, Springfield, IL 62704.
To express condolences and view Dean’s obituary online, please visit www.preston-hanley.com.
- Verlyn Williams - friend/classmate
- Trudy Ripka - colleague
- Mary Jo Margetis - Fellow teacher
- Ardella Perry-Osler - Wife's Friend
- Ray Garber - friend
- Sue McGarvey Kyle - friend of Eunice
- Holly Peal - Former student
- Linda Garman - Cousin
- Sharon Goodrich/Hopper - Friend/classmate
- Fred Lueders - 1971 student
- Martha Dunnam -
- Holly Haas Irving - class of 64
- Stacey & Jeff Stoller - Friends
- Gay Campbell (Sharpe) - Former Student
- Pekin Resident -
- Pete Driscoll - Teaching Colleague
- Pekin Public School District #108 - School District
- Doug St Cerny - Friend
- Edward A. Schimmelpfennig - childhood friend
- Pat Lambert Hanley - PCHS 1964
- Richard/Nancy Wherry - friend
- Marci Johnson - Friend