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Donald A. Hafeman

December 9, 1931 ~ February 27, 2019 (age 87)

MADISON - Donald A. Hafeman, age 87, passed away on February 27, 2019, after coping with Alzheimer’s for several years.   Don was born in Milwaukee, WI on December 9, 1931 to Clarence and Violet (Hamblin) Hafeman. 

He married his high school sweetheart and love of his life, Dana (Meyer) Hafeman on October 9, 1954.  They were married 50 years before Dana’s passing in 2005. Together they raised three rambunctious boys, Doug, Dale and Dave. Don enjoyed coaching his sons in various sports and refereeing wrestling matches on the mat in their family room.  They shared many fishing trips to Canada and Minnesota, providing numerous stories about their adventures.  

Don graduated from West Milwaukee High School in 1949 where he was an accomplished athlete.  After winning 3 state wrestling titles he went on to wrestle at the University of Wisconsin – Madison.  After a year at the UW, Don was drafted into the U.S. Navy (1951-1955). During his service Don served in the Korean War where he was stationed on the USS Ticonderoga and USS Coral Sea until he was called upon to play baseball for the All Navy Team.  He returned to the University to continue wrestling and complete his B.S. in Education in 1958. He went on to earn his M.S. in Education (1963) and Ph.D. in Educational Administration (1971) from the UW. His lifelong career in education began in 1958 as a teacher and coach and continued as a guidance counselor, principal, Director of Middle Schools, East Area Director, Assistant Superintendent of Schools and Superintendent of Schools with the Madison Metropolitan School District.  After his retirement in 1986, Don continued as an educator by serving several districts as an interim superintendent or consultant. He was the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Association of School Business Officials (WASBO) from 1987 to 1995.  Don was a teacher, coach, mentor and leader to many throughout his career. He was a firm believer in education as a path to the future.  He continued to advocate for children with the creation of the Foundation for Madison’s Public Schools, which provides funding for additional educational resources within the district.  Don retired a second time and enjoyed many years in Marana, Arizona.  He loved the desert, being able to golf year-round and hosting family and friends in a warm climate.  It was there Don met Karen Riley who brought him joy later in life until her passing in 2010.  His grandchildren Kaitlyn and Nathan were very special to Don and he enjoyed spending time and discussing their futures with them.  Don was inducted into the Wisconsin Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1983, and the Madison Sports Hall of Fame in 1995.  He received several awards as an educator including the ASBO Eagle Award.

Our heartfelt thanks to Don’s loving caregivers at Hyland Crossings in Sun Prairie and Agrace HospiceCare. 

Don is survived by his sons, Douglas (Kathy), Dale (Amy) and David (Tina); grandchildren, Kaitlyn (Matt) Peters and Nathan Hafeman; brother, Clarence Hafeman; sister, Judy Witthoft; and many nieces and nephews.  Don was preceded in death by his wife, Dana Noreen (Meyer) Hafeman, and his parents, Clarence and Violet (Hamblin) Hafeman.  

A memorial service will be held at 12 Noon on Wednesday, March 6, 2019 at Ryan Funeral Home, 2418 N. Sherman Ave., Madison, with a visitation beginning at 9 a.m. until the time of the service.  In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in Don’s memory to Agrace HospiceCare, 5395 E. Cheryl Parkway, Madison, WI 53711; Alzheimer’s Association, 2820 Walton Commons, Madison, WI 53718; or the Foundation for Madison’s Public Schools, 101 Nob Hill Rd., Suite 300, Madison, WI 53713.

To view and sign this guestbook, please visit www.ryanfuneralservice.com

Ryan Funeral Home & Cremation Services
2418 N. Sherman Ave.
608-249-8257

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