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Richard Wakefield was longtime educator of Roseville-area schools, made 10 holes in one as a golfer – Twin Cities

Richard “Dick” Wakefield never seemed able to stand still. Whether he is working with his hands on a masonry job, speaking in front of his students in class or bringing in a big fish, he was always doing something.

“When he sat too long, he would say, ‘What a waste of the day,'” his wife Janet Watt said.

Wakefield died on August 12 after a battle with prostate cancer that lasted more than 20 years. During this time, he didn’t let cancer stop him but stayed active, doing the things he loved.

Richard “Dick” Wakefield (Courtesy of Kim Nuckles)

In his 94 years of life, he was a World War II Navy veteran, a longtime teacher and administrator of Roseville-area schools, and a lifelong athlete in ski jumping, golf (he did 10 holes in one), hunting and fishing, and more. .

Wakefield was born May 1, 1928 to Ralph and Margaret Wakefield and grew up on the east side of St. Paul. He was the first of three children, and even as a child he couldn’t seem to stop moving and fussing. As his mother describes in her baby book, “April 23, 1929 – Dickie got caught in his (stroller). Grandpa Wakefield had to saw it off with a hacksaw.

After World War II, Wakefield started a family with his first wife, Arline Wakefield, now deceased. They had six children together; one died as an infant shortly after birth and two died as adults.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Minnesota, he began teaching for Roseville-area schools in 1959. He would later become a middle and high school vice-principal and an elementary school principal during his career there. In 1986, he retired from his position as principal of Central Park Elementary School.

His commitment to K-12 education and youth literacy was evident in the leadership positions and honors he received. Wakefield was appointed in 1972 to the “Right to Read Advisory Council” by the then Governor. Wendell Anderson, 1973 finalist for Minnesota Teacher of the Year and president of the Minnesota Middle School Association in 1983. He was an active member of an educational exchange program in the 1980s, traveling several times in Uruguay. He also chaired Junior Great Books for many years and volunteered at several elementary schools after his retirement.

“When he was a teacher in Roseville, he had so many students,” Watt said. “We almost never go anywhere where no one says (hello).”

In his spare time, Wakefield participated in a myriad of athletics. Inducted into the St. Paul Ski Club Hall of Fame in 2003, he was honored for his skills as a competitive ski jumper, as well as for his role as a coach, mentor and judge. Club members affectionately nicknamed him “the Gray Eagle” because his stark white hair made him appear like an eagle soaring through the air.

After retiring from his teaching career, Dick returned to school to study soil science and golf course management. He used this knowledge at the Indian Hills Golf Club in Stillwater, where he undertook course maintenance projects when he was not busy playing golf.

Wakefield was a member of the Garnet Masonic Lodge, attaining the degree of Master Mason in 1970.

Wakefield and Watt married in 1998. She said she would miss his sense of humor the most.

Wakefield is survived by Watt, three children, a son-in-law and two daughters-in-law, as well as numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews and friends.

A celebration of life is planned for October at the Indian Hills Golf Club. Final arrangements are still in progress.

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