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
"Mr. Silker and I crossed paths twice in my life, once as the only algebra teacher that i ever understood at RCC in 1983-84 and when my sons became the neighborhood paper boys delivering to him and Norma. I will never forget his meticulous care of his home, he and Norma's steadfast kindness to my son's Sam and Ben and their genersity with their Christmas bonuses. Rest in Peace Mr. Silker and say Hello to Norma for us. We miss you in your old 'hood'. "
"It just doesn't seem right that my Uncle, DeWaine is gone. Past on to his new life in heaven. The passing of life seems to go faster and faster every day! I miss him and Norma all the time and I am feeling older and older. My sincere sympathy to the family and wishing them well."
"I got to know DeWaine a few years after he retired from RCTC...first, through faculty colleagues who raved about both his instructional skills and his relationship with students; second, when I had the pleasure of meeting and visiting with DeWaine at college retiree functions. DeWaine will always be remembered for the many student lives he impacted through his math classes, his faculty organization leadership and his many contributions to wrestling. I'll remember DeWaine for his love of teaching and coaching, always kind words, never ending curiosity and pleasant smile. Sending thoughts, prayers and sympathy to the Silker family.
Don Supalla, RCTC President Emeritus"
"For a couple of years while DeWaine lived at The Homestead at Rochester, he was a wonderful part of our book group. We loved when he would tell of his experiences as a teacher and his travels."
"Mr Silker was an exceptional calculus teacher. He could make any kind of math lecture into a session of story telling. I was one of few women heading on the engineering pathway and he was very encouraging and helpful. He assisted us to go to NDSU to review the engineering offerings there. While I was a student there, he wrote letters with wonderful words of encouragement to me. I am forever grateful for the impact he made on my life. He was an inspiring educator and a wonderful human being. Thank you Mr. Silker, for all you taught me. "
"Just reading all these memories and how DeWaine inspired so many people made me cry, and hope that I would half the influence he had. He was a good person and heaven must have alot of buck snorters up there telling stories. Denise Cochran"
"As an 8th grader in phy ed class, Mr. Silker instilled in me my interest in wrestling. From that time on, I wrestled in high school and college and became a high school teacher & wrestling coach for 36 years. Sometimes you need that one person to steer you in the right direction and I credit Mr. Silker as that person in my life. - Dave Amdahl (Rochester John Marshall, Class of 61)"
"I was surprised and sorry to hear that DeWaine had passed away. My condolences to the Silker family. I first taught with DeWaine at Rochester Central Jr. High and then later at RCC (now RCTC). The year that DeWayne went to Turkey is the year I started teaching in the math department at what was called RSJC. Three years later he returned to the U.S. and rejoined our department RCC. DeWayne was an excellent instructor. Silk had always seemed to have many "irons" in the fire. I don't know how many jobs he had at any given time, but he taught full time, pumped gas and was district and regional wrestling tournament director for several years. He hired me to run the computer for those tournaments and that was one way I knew how passionate DeWaine was for this tough and demanding sport. It was good to see DeWaine at our last two RCTC retired math teachers get together in Rochester. Again, sympathy to the Silker family.
Russ Blankenfeld & Karen Machlica"
"Silker family, I?m so sorry to read that your dad passed away. You guys were fabulous neighbors for 50+ years and your dad was always in for a good chat in the backyard. I remember when our dads put in that railroad tie landscaping to even the yards. Your dad always had a manicured yard and so proud of it. I still refer to your house as Silker?s house. Great memories as neighbors.
Wishing you all comfort now, peace soon and warm memories forever. Your dad was a great man, one of a kind.
Deepest sympathies and prayers to your family.
Renee Rolstad Balloy
"I am so saddened to hear of the Silker family?s loss! I was also a high school and college wrestler and coached high school wrestling in South East Minnesota for 19 years. DeWayne was probably they most respected wrestling official in this area. His knowledge of the sport was unbelievable and I loved his SCISSORS at tournament time.
Frank Murphy....... Fellow Regional Wrestling Hall of Famer
"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"
"Silker Family, Sending prayers and virtual hugs, with the hope that the expressions of sympathy, caring and love that you receive will serve to bring you some comfort now and in the days ahead. The Giebels"
"I love you dad, forever.
Sue Silker Kanz"
"I had a great calculus teacher and mentor in Mr Silker, He once handed me a research job at the Mayo Clinic through teacher connections he had. Years later DeWaine and I could continue our friendship as his cats' veterinarian. Dave and Teresa and the rest of the Silker family are so fortunate to have had such a wonderful set of parents in DeWaine and Norma. I am thankful for just knowing them. Brad Treder"
"Many fond memories of RJC, RSJC, RCC and RCTC going back to those early days at the Coffman Building when faculty like DeWaine, Don Lavine, Mary Goette, Bob Wise, Don Harkcom, Jim Wignes, end others were leaders.. There aren't many of us left that remember those days. They are all missed. Al Dollerschell"
"My dad set the example for all of his children. Because of Dad?s instruction to lift my gaze and look past the car in front of me, I?m a good driver. Because of Dad?s decision to take his family to Istanbul for three years, I became a world traveler. Because of Dad?s dedication to his work, I give my best to all of my endeavors. Because of Dad?s commitment to education, I became a lifelong learner. Because of Dad?s love for his students, I became a teacher. Because of Dad?s devotion to Mom even and especially when it was not easy, my marriage can overcome obstacles. He was an exceptional man."
"I'm a former student of Mr. Silker's at RCC in 1980-81. He was an outstanding Calculus teacher and he was so important in advocating for his students. He encouraged me to seek an engineering path, and that's what I did pursue and have enjoyed ever since. I fondly look back and see how important he was in my life.
My condolences to the family. Know that he made a difference in many students lives!! Denny Branca, Plymouth, MN."
"So many fond memoires of DeWaine and Norma - Their love for each other was so heartwarming, together they Unite again. My prayers to the family. Sue (Mulcahey) Lee "
"I have always been so amazed at how wonderful Norma and DeWaine were able to live their lives together raising such a beautiful family and sharing so much with all their family and friends. I was the flower girl at their wedding and it was a long long time ago now. DeWaine was just the best in everything he did, I will really miss him so much. All the best to his family and my prayers. ??"
"Sorry to hear of his passing. Your family is in our prayers. Pix and Jean keefe"
"My heartfelt condolences to Dave and Teresa, as well as, the rest of your family."
"Mr Silker inspired me to be a math teacher, which I did for 20 years. We exchanged Christmas greetings for many years. He was the finest of the fine!! He will be truly missed by many. What an example he was for so many!! Loved this guy! My sympathy to his amazing family.
"Dave, you and your family are in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. Ken & Lisa Linn "