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Colleagues remember Lodes' legacy

Lodes, 62, found dead at home on Monday

Feb. 27, 2013

"It's just a sad day at Arrowhead, and we're all trying to make sense of it," said Arrowhead Superintendent Craig Jefson.

Former AHS Superintendent David Lodes, 62, was found deceased in his Town of Delafield home at 10 a.m. Monday. The Medical Examiner's Office is waiting for test results before determining a cause of death. A spokeswoman for the Waukesha Sheriff's Department said there is no reason to believe the death was in any way suspicious.

Lodes resigned from his career in education during 2010, citing health concerns and personal reasons.

He had battled a problem with alcoholism. Lodes was charged with drunken driving after an incident occurred in Delafield on Nov. 18, 2009. It was his second offense; the first was in 2004. He told the court on Jan. 11, 2010, that he was undergoing treatment.

He and his wife, Mary, were divorced last year.

After his retirement, Lodes developed a start-up business in aquaponics with close friends. He also enjoyed golf, travel, reading, spending time with his family and spending time with his grandchildren. He is survived by Mary and their two children, Matthew and Katie.

Lodes was a graduate of New Holstein High School, and earned his undergraduate and two master's degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. He later earned a doctorate from Marquette University. He began his lifelong career as an educator in the Lomira and Elmbrook school districts as a science teacher. He spent 28 years as an educator, dean and principal in the Arrowhead School District, his last 14 years at Arrowhead as the superintendent, leaving in 2007. After his time with Arrowhead, Lodes moved on to serve as the schools superintendent for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. He oversaw 127 Catholic elementary and secondary schools between 2007 and 2010.

"He was an educational leader who left a mark on the program here, through all the accomplishments he made. … He left an enormous impact on the academics here," Jefson said.

Colleagues, like longtime teacher Cat Bergman, describe Lodes as an understanding individual and a "supporter for everybody." One co-worker, Steve Kopecky, remembers Lodes for being proud of his family and that his quick wit and sense of humor livened up the work day. Another colleague at Arrowhead, Cheri Kaiser, said he was kindhearted and always tried to learn both sides to any issue before making a decision.

"You know, I worked with him for many years, probably more than 25 years, and he was such a great leader and a great mentor for me," Kaiser said.

Jefson credits Lodes with working with the community to pass a successful AHS referendum, one that expanded the facilities at North and South campuses. He is also a key figure in creating the Mullett Ice Center.

"His passion for Arrowhead High School led him from science teacher to science department chairperson to principal and to superintendent. It didn't matter if Dave was working with a student, a staff member, the district's buildings and grounds committee or the district's curriculum committee, his passion for Arrowhead High School never wavered," Kopecky said.

Timothy O'Driscoll worked with Lodes for years - back when Lodes was still a science teacher - and remembered that Lodes always had an open door. O'Driscoll said that for Lodes, the most important thing was how well the teachers and students did in the classroom. He said that idea was reflected in the entire school.

"He led the school through one of the greatest expansions at Arrowhead. He led us through the referendum, which, I think, many people forget that it didn't pass the first time. But he took the helm, and we went back to the community," O'Driscoll said.

"He did an awful lot for Arrowhead in the years that he was here," Kaiser said.

Kopecky agreed.

"His work ethic and effective educational leadership have put a stamp on Arrowhead High School that will always be there," he said.

Former colleagues at the Milwaukee Archdiocese shared Arrowhead's shock at news of his death.

"We were all shocked and saddened to hear of Dave's death. During his tenure in the Schools Office at the Archdiocese of Milwaukee Dave was a respected colleague, and he will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family," said Julie Wolf, communication director for the archdiocese.

A memorial visitation is planned for 3 to 6 p.m. Friday, March 1, at St. Anthony's on the Lake Catholic Church, W280 N2101 Prospect Ave., Pewaukee. A funeral Mass will follow, at 6. In lieu of flowers, donations are suggested to the Arrowhead Scholarship Fund in Lodes' name, at Arrowhead High School, PO Box 462, Hartland, WI 53029.

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