Dean A. Slavens, 82, of Columbia City, Indiana, passed away unexpectedly Tuesday, May 16, 2023, peacefully at his home. Born July 29, 1940 in Lafayette, he was the son of Roy and Hazel (Thomas) Slavens.
He graduated from Delphi High School and received his bachelor's degree from Manchester College. He furthered his education with a Master's Degree from Northern Illinois University, and Post-Grad work at Ball State University. Alongside his education, Dean was a student-athlete. At Delphi, he lettered in cross-country, basketball, Track, and baseball. He was proud that during his time at Manchester he set a school record for the long jump event, and that his father was there to see it.
Dean met his high school sweetheart, Janice K. Rider, in study hall at Delphi High School in 1958. He was a senior, she was a sophomore - he claimed to have won her over by slyly sneaking out to buy candy for her and her friends. She asked him to a school dance, and in Dean’s words, “the rest is history - 56 years of history”. They married in Wabash, Indiana on May 27, 1960. Together they raised two daughters, Tammy and Sonya, who in turn blessed them with 4 grandchildren, and 5 great-grandchildren. Dean claimed his family as his greatest pride and accomplishment.
For 60 years, Dean was an educator and coach. His career began at Goshen in 1962, followed by 4 years teaching at Niles East in Skokie, Illinois. From 1972 until 1996 he taught and coached thousands of students and athletes at North Side High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana. After he retired from North Side, he also taught at Concordia High School from 2006-2010. He also coached track and field at other high schools in the region, including Churubusco, Bishop Dwenger, Northrop, Bishop Luers, Columbia City, and Canterbury. In total, Dean coached and invested in the Indiana Track and Field community for over 60 years. In 2004 he was inducted into the Indiana Track and Field Hall of Fame, and in 2019 he was honored with an induction into North Side’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
When asked what he was most proud of he said:
“Besides my family, I am most proud that over 30 of my former athletes became coaches - two are in the Hall of Fame. Numerous former students have told me they are teachers because of my example as a teacher.”
He attended Emmanuel Community Church and was a member of the Indiana Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches.
Dean is survived by his daughter and son-in-law, Tammy Runyan-Glover and William Glover; daughter and son-in-law, Sonya and Brian Emerick; granddaughter, Tia Runyan; grandsons, Brent (Liza) Emerick, Bradley (Ashley) Emerick and Eric Emerick; great-grandchildren, Elliana, Britain, Lachlan, Wells, Evelyn and expecting one more this summer; several nieces and nephews; and an extension of many track and cross country athletic family members. Along with his parents and a brother, Ronald Slavens, Dean was preceded in death by his loving wife of 56 years, Janice Slavens on January 9, 2017.
A celebration of life will be held at 1pm Sunday, May 21, 2023 at The Taylor Barn, 5355 E. 700 S., Columbia City with Pastor Gary Dilley of Emmanuel Community Church officiating. A visitation with family and friends will follow the service from 2 to 4 pm. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be given in Dean's memory to North Side High School for the Track and Cross Country Teams.
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