Middleton coaches remember hall-of-famer Dewey Stendahl | Community Spirit
Educators recall his athleticism, sportsmanship
Though colleagues said DuWayne Stendahl’s athletic prowess was enviable -- colleague and friend for 38 years Tom Cabalka said Stendahl was sure to beat him in any game from golf to horse shoes -- it was his reverence for others that distinguished him as a great coach and educator.
Coach “Dewey” Stendahl was a teacher and sports coach in the community for more than three decades. In recent years, Stendahl had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and was living with the disease publicly. He died Nov. 1 at 64 years old. Colleagues and friends said the long-time Middleton-Cross Plains school coach is remembered as a true sportsman.
Athletically, he left his mark on the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse as a four-year letter winner in football and baseball and co-all-American kicker before joining the Middleton-Cross Plains School District in 1970. There he coached multiple sports including football, baseball and the golf team, which he guided to multiple state championships. That record lead to recognition with as National Golf Coach of the Year in 2002 followed by an induction into the state’s Golf Coaches Hall of Fame in 2010.
But those remarkable records aren’t his most memorable work, relayed colleague Tom Schmitt, a good friend and co-teacher for eight years. Most important to Stendahl as an educator and coach were honor and fairness, he said.
“As much as he achieved on the athletic stage, his best legacy is how he conducted himself and genuinely cared for his students, players, families and others that he was part of their life,” Schmitt said. “He truly was a man of integrity.”
Schmitt, also a coach and gym teacher with the Middleton-Cross Plains School District, worked teaching elementary school phy-ed together with Stendahl for eight years. He said he learned a lot about working with students in class and on the field, court and golf course from Stendahl’s example.
Cabalka echoed Schmitt, and said Stendahl taught kids how to play but most importantly, how to be a sportsman. For example, in the early days of coaching the Middleton golf teams, Cabalka remembers Stendahl began the practice of players shaking the opposing coach’s hand. It’s a simple gesture showing mutual respect that’s now a traditional element of the school’s games, Cabalka said.
Cabalka said he met Stendahl on the first day of Cabalka’s coaching assignment in 1974, when Stendahl took him under his wing. The two would go on to coach varsity football, sophomore basketball and freshman baseball together and become good friends.
“He was a person I really looked up to,” Cabalka said. “He showed a lot of us the right way to do things: with integrity. He just was always teaching us, really.”
Services will be held Sunday at Good Shepard Lutheran Church, 5701 Raymond Rd., Madison. A visitation will begin at 1 p.m. and the funeral service will start at 3 p.m.