Mr. DeWaine C. Silker died at the age of 91 in LaCrosse, WI on November 4, 2020, surrounded by family at the home of his son David and Teresa Silker where he resided. He and his wife Norma spent 69 loving years together before her death in 2017.
DeWaine was born on June 19th, 1929 at home in Rochester to C. Kenneth and Esther (née Winter) Silker. He graduated with the class of 1947 from Rochester High School, arguably the greatest class of RHS. On June 19, 1948, he married his high school sweetheart, Norma Larson. In 1950, he received his BA in mathematics and physical education from Iowa State Teachers College.
He was a teacher and wrestling coach in Morris, MN for one year and then returned to Rochester to teach mathematics and physical education from 1952 to 1962. He earned an MA in Education from Colorado College in 1957 and an MA in mathematics from San Diego State College in 1960. From 1962 to 1993, he taught mathematics at Rochester Junior College. He was Faculty President from 1964-1966 and from 1970-1972.
DeWaine was a high school athlete in wrestling, track and football. He was also a college wrestler and was a member of the NCAA championship team. He refereed high school football for ten years in the 1970s and was a starter for high school track meets for thirty seasons in Southern Minnesota, but his real love was wrestling. He was fond of saying, "All that I am and all that I have, I owe to wrestling." He was a high school wrestling referee in Southern Minnesota and for Minnesota State High School League Tournaments. He was the Minnesota State High School League wrestling rules interpreter for Southern Minnesota. He also managed the District III and Region I Wrestling Tournaments for twenty-five years. He was inducted into the Minnesota High School Coaches Dave Bartelma Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1988, the Minnesota Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2004 and the Rochester Quarterbacks Hall of Fame in 2004. He also became a charter member of the Mayo Civic Center Region I Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2007.
DeWaine was a founding brother and lifetime member of the Rochester Chapter of the Brotherhood of Buck Snorters.
From 1966-1969, DeWaine and Norma took their family to The American College of Girls in Istanbul, Turkey where he taught mathematics. He also taught mathematics for the University of Maryland at U.S. military bases in Turkey.
DeWaine became a member of Zumbro Lutheran Church in 1950, was the president of the congregation in 1982 and a Business Office technician whose duties included counting the weekly offerings for twenty-four years.
He is survived by his cat, Isa, by two daughters, Laurie K Lavine (Phil Pienkos) of Potsdam, NY and Sue Silker Kanz (David Kanz) of Aitkin, and two sons, David B. Silker (Teresa Tucker) of La Crosse, and John C. Silker of Rochester. He is also survived by nine grandchildren: Elizabeth Pienkos, Andrew Pienkos, Chad Silker, Becky Hughes, Matthew Silker, Kelly Sparks, Amy Grgich, Erik Kanz and Samantha Silker. He has 17 great-grandchildren: Max, Nora, Charlie, Theodore, Marley, Maya, Jack, Harrison, Benjamin, Stella, Isaiah, Corrina, Matilda, Natalie, Kate, Ty and Xavier. He is survived by two brothers: Frank Silker of Rochester and Scott Silker of LaCrosse. He was preceded in death by his parents, by his brother Dale Silker, by his sister Joanne Wildermuth, and by twin granddaughters, Sarah and Elizabeth Silker.
DeWaine loved his family, the thousands of students that he educated through the years, his church and high school wrestling. He also loved every job he held. Put simply, he liked to work and he admired and respected all those who take pride in a job well done.
After a lifetime of red lights in Rochester, may DeWaine only find green lights on his pathway to Heaven.
A Celebration of DeWaine Silker's life will be held on Saturday, July 17th at 11:00 am at Zumbro Lutheran Church, 624 Third Ave. SW, Rochester, MN. It will also be live streamed that day and a video of the service will be available the following week. Please go to Zumbro Lutheran's website for more information: https://zumbrolutheran.org. You are warmly invited to visit with the family at the church on Saturday from 10:00 until 11:00 and to stay for a luncheon following the service. Private family inurnment services will be held at a future date at St Olaf Lutheran Cemetery in Rock Dell, Millet Cemetery in Fillmore County and Robert College in Istanbul, Turkey.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials to the Scholarship Fund for female students of Robert College, Istanbul (https://giving.robcol.k12.tr/usindex.html) or Zumbro Lutheran Church of Rochester, 624 3rd Ave SW, Rochester, MN 55902.
Ranfranz and Vine Funeral Home is honored to be serving the Silker family; to share a special memory or condolence please visit www.ranfranzandvinefh.com
Rochester, MN 55902
I was saddened to read of Mr. Silker's passing when I was looking through the obituaries on the Post-Bulletin Web site. I had two encounters with Mr. Silker in my life. The first was in my Junior year of high school during a weigh-in before our wrestling match. Mr. Silker deemed that I had too much facial hair and instructed me to shave the hair above my lip, of what he considered to be a mustache. I was at first annoyed, but then I realized that it was rather hilarious to think that the peach fuzz on my face had reached the point at which someone might conclude that I had actually grown a mustache. My teammates got a good chuckle from it as well. I never had Mr. Silker has a referee for any more matches through the rest of high school, but I was always on the lookout to see if Mr. Silker would be the referee.
My second encounter with Mr. Silker lasted longer and was much more impactful. I had just started my studies at RCC and knew that understanding and passing Calculus was necessary for any Engineering program, and passing Calculus with high grades would be needed in order to get accepted as a transfer into the UofM or to UW-Madison Engineering programs where I intended to complete my degree. I was shocked when I walked in to my first Calculus class and found that Mr. Silker was teaching. I thought I was in for a tough time, thinking that Mr. Silker was one of those people that would nit-pick on every minor detail, given my experience a few years before. I found my initial thoughts to be off base, and instead came to realize that Mr. Silker was a very effective and thorough teacher of Calculus. I had Mr. Silker for all three of my Calculus classes that year, with the class size slightly decreased in number for each successive quarter (as is the nature of students trying to understand Calculus), and finished the year with about 15 of us in his class. Early on in that first class, Mr. Silker told us to read the next-days material the night before. That way we would have been exposed to the material before he presented it to us, and we would come to class with questions of what we did not understand. I did as he suggested, and it turned out to be a very effective method of learning. I achieved an A in each of his three classes and I attribute my outcome to Mr. Silker's suggestion. From that success with Mr. Silker in Calculus at RCC, I went on to get both undergrad and Masters degrees in Electrical Engineering at UW-Madison.
I have come to realize that Mr. Silker's Calculus classes were the critical launching point of my academic path, and also of my resulting adult life. I am forever grateful that our paths crossed a second time.
Thank-you Mr. Silker!
St. Paul, MN