Don F. Lutz, 68, passed away peacefully on April 9, 2019, in Fort Myers, Fla., where he and his wife, Alvie, have wintered for the past several years.
Born Jan. 20, 1951, in Stevens Point, the son of George A. and Margaret Mary “Pat” (Kelly) Lutz. On Aug. 6, 1977, Don married Alvina “Alvie” Starzinski at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Marathon.
Don attended St. Joseph Catholic School, graduated from Pacelli High School in 1970; he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from University of Stevens Point in 1975, a Master of Education degree in 1987 and Marian College Educational Leadership/Principal Licensure Program in 2000.
At UWSP, Don was a member of the wrestling team, International Club and the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity.
After graduation in 1975, he taught science in Tomah and at UWSP Upward Bound before finding his professional home at Marathon Venture Academy in Marathon, where he began a thirty year career as a middle school science teacher.
During his years teaching, Don influenced thousands of central Wisconsin students and he will leave a legacy that will never be forgotten. He loved teaching and making “his kids” excited about learning. He began each class with a “Don Lutz” joke. After retirement Don continued to teach summer school and was a substitute teacher throughout the Wausau area.
One of his proudest achievements was the development of the Christa McAuliffe Marathon Nature Center where Don blended a love of the outdoors with teaching. He wrote a grant proposal to The McAuliffe Foundation and was awarded funds to build the nature center. He taught summer programs at the center for 29 years and was preparing to teach his 30th year there this June. With Don’s guidance and knowledge, his young students learned about plants, insects and amphibians by “mucking about the pond.” He also taught rocketry to summer school students with Alvie assisting.
Don was a past president of the Wisconsin Society of Science Teachers and active in national science meetings and conferences throughout the United States. He was given the statewide teacher of the year award for excellence in teaching science. Don was awarded the UWSP outstanding secondary practitioner of the year. Don served as a Sally Ride Academy Educator, Science World Educator, Project Wild Facilitator, UWSP Energy Education adjunct faculty member. Don was awarded the Herb Kohl Fellowship Award.
He was president of the Marathon Teacher Association and later served on the WEAC Board of Directors. Don served as a member of the state of Wisconsin new teacher licensure panel and as member of the state of Wisconsin environmental literacy board. Don attended summer institutes at Madison, Berkeley, NYU, NASA-Houston, NOAA-Florida Keys, California Redwoods, Jackson Hole/Grand Tetons/Yellowstone, WASDI-Wisconsin Academy Staff Development Lead Teacher Institute.
Don was a lifelong learner and spent time every day reading local and national newspapers, books on current events, and historical novels. While in Fort Myers, his top priority each day was to complete his hour walk and then visit the library and read the New York Times. Don also enjoyed daily walks with his dogs, Buddy and Charlie. Don loved to host family/friend ice skating, summer picnics and hay ride parties.
During his life, Don was an accomplished athlete. As a youth he participated in wrestling, track, swimming, and was selected to be on the Junior Olympic team for ski jumping. Don was a cross country skier, a marathon runner and participated in triathlons. He served as the wrestling coach at Marathon High School as well as the youth coach. When not participating he would attend sporting events to cheer on family and friends. Don traveled extensively, spending many years scuba diving in Grand Cayman as well as hiking and camping in state/national parks from Florida to Alaska and from California to Rhode Island.
Don participated in his local community as a volunteer religious education instructor at Sacred Heart Church, president of the Marathon Lions and as a former boy scout he volunteered as a merit badge counselor.
Don is preceded in death by his parents; his parents-in-law, Peter and Agnes Starzinski and Joseph Gavinski; his brothers: Peter Lutz and James “Jim” Lutz; and sister-in-law, Judy (Wysocki) Lutz.
He is survived by his wife, Alvina “Alvie” Lutz; his brothers: George (Mary Anne) Lutz, Milwaukee, John (Luci) Lutz; his sister: Mary (Ronald) Domka; sister-in-law, Jan Lutz, all of Stevens Point; sister-in-law, Barb Lutz, of Eau Claire; brother-in-law, Gary (Teresa) Starzinski; sisters-in-law, Betty (Larry) Blume of Marathon, Suzanne (Robert) Metz of Hazelhurst, Mary Jane (Robert) Sydow of Marshfield, and Beverly (Glenn) Kafka of Stratford. Don is further survived by many nieces and nephews; and his beloved dogs, Buddy and Charlie.
A memorial Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. on Monday, April 29, 2019, at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 222761 County Road S, Marathon, WI. Rev. Felix Tigoy will preside. Interment will be in the parish cemetery. Visitation will be on Sunday, April 28, 2019, from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. at Sacred Heart Church. Visitation will continue on Monday from 9 a.m. until the time of service at the church. Following the cemetery committal service, a Celebration of Life will take place at the Cassel Town Hall, located directly north of the church.
Peterson/Kraemer Funeral Home is in charge of local arrangements. Online condolences may be expressed at www.petersonkraemer.com. In lieu of flowers, a memorial fund is being established for a scholarship in Don’s name.