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Sylvester David “Dave” Chickering, Baraboo, passed away March 13, 2023. He lived life as he wanted to and despite illness and injury, remained in touch and involved with a wide variety of friends up until the end.
Born May 25, 1937, in Belding, Ionia County, Michigan, Dave worked on the family farm from the age of 5, first in Michigan, then in Endeavor when his family relocated to Wisconsin. At 20, he managed a crew of lettuce harvesters on his father's muck farm.
He attended Belding High School, then transferred to Endeavor High School. When the tiny rural school closed down, he transferred again to Portage High School, from which he graduated in 1955.
He earned his Bachelor's degree in General Field Science from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and went on to further studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Dave worked shortly as a Chemist for the City of Fond du Lac, then became a Research Assistant at University of Wisconsin-Madison's Immunology Lab, where he was honored to work with Nobel Prize nominees.
In 1959, he was drafted into the United States Army, serving three years in Korea. There, he had the honor of being selected for the Army's elite singing group, the Bayonet Chorale.
As a member of this group, he toured Korea, giving performances on college campuses and other locations, and he even performed a solo on national Korean television.
Dave met his wife, Jeanne Ellen (Hickey), on a blind date at Beloit College. They married May 1, 1965, at the University of Chicago Theological Seminary chapel.
The couple went on to have two children, Pam, born in 1969, and Linda, born in 1972.
Jeanne passed away in 2012.
Dave became a teacher in 1968 at Portage High School, and in 1971 moved to Baraboo to teach at Baraboo Junior High School, where he impacted generations of students with a combination of storytelling and explosions.
During his early teaching years, he also served as an assistant football coach and head ninth-grade football coach. He also volunteered as a 4-H photography leader.
Extremely articulate and interested in matters of import around the world, Dave was a lifelong learner.
His interests in environmental science led him to get involved with the International Crane Foundation, which recognized him and Jeanne in the 1990s for their outstanding contributions to the organization.
He also volunteered for an Experimental Aircraft Association publication, trucking materials for the show up to the annual Air Adventure airshow in Oshkosh.
Music was always a central part of Dave's life, and he performed well into his 80s, serving as a soloist countless times. For two decades, he performed with Madison's elite level Festival Choir, and he took part in regional singing groups for decades longer, including the Portage Ecumenical Choir, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville Baraboo Campus and Community Choir, (unofficially referred to as the “Boo-U chorus”). He also appeared occasionally in Madison operas and Savoyards productions, numerous musicals with the Baraboo Theatre Guild, and the occasional show with Marshall Community Theatre.
In his retirement years, Dave did a great deal for the international community in the area, particularly college students and international workers who came to Wisconsin Dells through the J1 program.
For these folks, he served as a one-man welcome wagon and community resource, providing rides, bike rentals, tours of area attractions, moving help, and even occasionally temporary housing or employment. Even in his latter years when disability made it impossible to take such an active role in helping international folks, he stayed in touch with friends he had made all over the world.
Dave is survived by his brothers: Jim, Bill and Pete; sister, Susan Brauer; his daughters, Pam Chickering (Kevin) Wilson of Watertown, and Linda Chickering (Avinash Bhat) of Waukesha; as well as four grandchildren: Rowan, (born 2004), Michael, (born 2008), Riya (born 2012), and Nisha, (born 2014.)
A memorial service is planned for late summer.
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