Monday, November 11, 2013

Rec&Ed remembers Rick Dekeon

"Dedicated." "Loved coaching." "Loved teaching." "Made a difference in the lives of thousands of kids." These are just some of the words that staff here at Rec&Ed are using to describe Rick Dekeon, long-time PE teacher at Northside Elementary and coach, participant, official, instructor, and Recreation Advisory Commission member for Rec&Ed. All of us at Rec&Ed were deeply saddened by news of Rick Dekeon's death on Saturday.

Rick's frequent smile
Team Sports Coordinator Larry Dishman knew Rick for decades. He shares this remembrance today:

"Rick Dekeon was a passionate educator, coach, clinician and human being. He touched the lives of many of us and countless numbers of young people in the community. My nephews, Ben, Nick and Graham, all considered him their favorite teacher when they attended Northside Elementary School. Rick and I would oftentimes pass messages back and forth to each other through the boys. 
Rick had been involved with the Ann Arbor Recreation Department and Rec&Ed programs since the mid 1970's. The first time I met Rick he was playing softball with the Capital Market ball team back in 1976. He was a softball team participant, a coach of many Rec&Ed youth sports teams, a high school coach, a Rec&Ed clinician for our soccer program, a member of the Recreations Advisory Commission, a popular and talented teacher at Northside Elementary School and the list goes on and on.  
Whenever Rick would volunteer to coach one of our youth sports teams, moms and dads would rush to sign their kids up for it. He was one of the most popular coaches we ever had the pleasure to work with. 
I remember many post-RAC-meeting discussions in the Rec&Ed parking lot with Rick.  We usually talked about program ideas, AAPS matters, sports and other topics we had in common. One of the topics we would sometimes discuss was having had our numbers called to go into the ring against the "Big C." Most of those discussions were personal, and I choose to keep them private, but I will share with you the one thing both Rick and I agreed on and that was not to let cancer get in the way of living our lives to the fullest. And Rick exemplified that. 
All of us at Rec&Ed and on the Recreation Advisory Commission will remember Rick fondly for his dedication to children and recreation in our community.


  1. I cannot agree more with Mr. Dishman. Mr. Dekeon used Physical Education as a tool to apply his incredible talent as a fine educator. My daugther who started in 4th grade at Northside has gained a life-long education during Mr. Dekeon's PE classes. Everyday she came back as a winner. A winner over her own accomplishments, her motivation to run a little bit longer and a little bit farther. She would collect the little trinkets that Mr. Dekeon would give away each time the kids had accomplish more. These rewards made them a winner each time a little more every day. The kids were motivated to work a little bit harder, and it was fun. Mr. Dekeon made them proud of themselves and made them important. My daughter would make a detour to Northside and then Skyline to greet and hug Mr. Dekeon each time she had an opportunity, even as she moved on to college. She has taken these life-long lessons with her and I am so grateful. So saddened. B. Romero

  2. I encountered Mr. DeKeon through the Rec & Ed soccer program. He taught the coaching clinics and did some refereeing as well. Rec & Ed soccer is a big deal in this community, and he made it better and more enjoyable.His death is our loss.