Dean McNamee was greeted by his parents, siblings and The Heavenly Father on Friday, Feb. 14, 2014, after a valiant encounter with cancer. A Celebration of His Life will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 1, with a Christian service at the George Gardner Performing Arts Center on the Holbrook High School campus, with Pastor Jeff Johnson officiating. Visitation will be held from 6 to 8 o’clock on Friday, Feb. 28, at Owens Livingston Mortuary in Holbrook. Dean requested no black be worn at his services to reiterate the bright and full life he lived. A service will follow at a later date in Tripoli, Iowa, so that Dean may rest with his parents.
Survivors include his children, Jeremy (Virginia) McNamee of Mesa, Deana (James) McKinney of Winslow, Meaghan (Fernando Lopez) McNamee of Winslow and foster son Gerald Martinez of Morenci.
The “Light of His Life” are his 10 grandchildren, Jeremy McNamee Jr., Maricella McNamee, Elena Martinez, Faith McKinney, Isaac Martinez, JayLynn McNamee, Alexis McKinney, Marlie McNamee, Ryane McKinney, Henry McNamee and grandchild No. 11 due in July.
He is also survived by sisters-in-law Mardy McNamee of Jesup, Iowa, and Wendy McNamee Rogers of Eagan, Minn.; daughters-in-law Lucinda Florez of Avondale and Sara Brown of Holbrook; former wife Loretta Begay McNamee; and 31 nieces and nephews in Iowa, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, California, Texas and Arizona. After 44 years as an educator, Dean is also survived by thousands of former students who touched his personality and left footprints on his heart.
Dean arrived into this world on Aug. 28, 1945, at Allen Memorial Hospital in Waterloo, Iowa, the fourth (and last) child of W. Edward McNamee and Myrtle Viola Rigdon McNamee. He was baptized Dennis Dean a month later at Trinity Lutheran Church, Waterloo. His loving parents raised him to respect and nurture the earth, appreciate nature, enjoy the farm life and have empathy for all he encountered.
He was raised on farms in Northeast Iowa, attending Dunkerton Community Schools through the fourth grade, Evergreen Country one-room school house near Tripoli. He was confirmed at Grace Lutheran Church in Tripoli during his freshman year. Dean then attended Tripoli Consolidated School District until his graduation in 1963, where he was the student body president his senior year.
After high school graduation, he attended the State College of Iowa in Cedar Falls, majoring in Middle School Education with minors in English and Social Studies. He was an active member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon social fraternity, where he was the Eminent Archon (president) during his junior year. Also, he was the SCI student body vice president his junior year. In 1967, Dean was in the first graduating class from the University of Northern Iowa after the institution received university status.
He then accepted a teaching position at Washington Junior High in Racine, Wis., where he was employed four years.
Dean returned to the University of Northern Iowa in 1971, receiving his master’s degree in Secondary Guidance and Counseling in 1972.
He arrived in Arizona in August 1972 and accepted a teaching position with the Bureau of Indian Affairs at Keams Canyon, where he was employed for four years. It was at Keams Canyon where he met his future wife, Loretta Begay. Dean transferred to Tuba City High School as a supervisory guidance counselor and Leupp Boarding School in the same position, moving to Winslow in 1979. His final BIA teaching experience was at Dilcon Boarding School for 10 years beginning in 1982.
While residing in Winslow, Dean was active in volunteer organizations as the AYSO registrar for three years, coached the preschoolers in AYSO, Brownie and Girl Scout troop leader, and Cub Scout and Boy Scout leader, where he received Outstanding Scout Leader of the Year from the Grand Canyon Council. He was also on the Navajo County Fair Board for three years. Dean was co-chairman of the Winslow Christmas Parade in 1988 and 1989. He was the chairman in 1994.
In 1989, Dean was honored at the annual meeting in Denver, Colo., by the Department of Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, where he received the bureau’s first award as the Outstanding Educator of the Year for his dedication while on the Hopi and Navajo reservations.
In 1992, Dean accepted a position as an English teacher at Holbrook High School. The following year he became a guidance counselor in the same school. In 1998, Dean was instrumental in implementing the Phenix Program through the high school, where he was the counselor/instructor for almost three years before returning to teach English at the junior high school for three years and then transferring back to the high school in 2002 as the junior/senior counselor, a position he held until his retirement on June 30, 2011.
Dean was preceded by his parents, Edward and Myrtle McNamee; his sister, Eileen; and his two brothers, Larry and Paul. The family is now united again.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Peace Lutheran Church, 105 Svenson Drive, Holbrook Ariz. 86025.
“Some people come into our lives and go quietly…some stay for awhile and leave footprints on our hearts…and we are never ever the same.”
Owens Livingston Mortuary of Holbrook was in charge of the arrangements.