Dennis Einar Erstad

June 17, 1945 - May 01, 2023


Obituary For Dennis Einar Erstad

McFarland - We have lost a very bright light in our family. Dennis Einar Erstad passed away on Monday, May 1, 2023. He was born on June 17, 1945, in Madison, WI, to Einar and Jennie Erstad.

Dennis attended Wangness School through 8th grade and graduated from Deforest High School in 1963. While attending UW River Falls, he met Carol (Wagner) during summer break, and the two were married on November 26, 1966. After graduation, Dennis taught English at Three Lakes Middle School. After 3 years he moved to the High School to teach History and English. While teaching he coached basketball and football and started wrestling and soccer programs. After coaching he became the school’s athletic director and in 1985 became the High School Principal. In 1992 Dennis became the Principal at Marathon High School where he would retire in 2000.

Dennis and Carol loved to travel and visited all 50 states, Canada, Norway, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Holland, France, Italy Switzerland, Panama, Costa Rica, and Mexico. Dennis lived the saying that, “there were no strangers, just friends he hadn’t met yet.” Gatherings of family and friends were something to look forward to and cherish. He was an active member in all the churches he attended in Three Lakes, Marathon, Baraboo and McFarland. He was a lifelong Badger fan and held season tickets for football and basketball, traveled to football games throughout the Big Ten, several bowl games and many Big Ten basketball tournaments. He was a strong supporter of high school athletics as a coach, athletic director and principal and enjoyed attending state tournaments for basketball and wrestling and loved to see his grandchildren play soccer, basketball and run track.

Dennis loved his family here in the United States and the extended family in Norway and Finland. He will be missed by his wife Carol, his children Todd (Kathy) Erstad and Tanya (Peter) Kolar and his grandchildren, Kendrick, Anders, Brekken and Brenna; step-granddaughters Kris (Jason) Kessler and Sam (Tim) Ornes and their children; his sister Marilyn, brothers Errol, Cliff and Don, sisters-in-law Marian, Joyce, Betty and Joann (Danny) and many nieces, nephews, grandnieces/nephews, cousins, and friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents Einar and Jennie Erstad, father and mother-in-law Henry and Henrietta Wagner, brothers Dick and Dave Erstad, brothers-in-law Jerry Maurer, Howard Fabian, Leon Wagner and Bob Wagner and step-granddaughter Jenni Dietzel.

The family would like to thank all of the staff who have taken care of Dennis. Especially the folks from Agrace Hospice & Support Care.

We are hoping that Dennis is enjoying his room with a view.

A Funeral Service will be held at 1:00 p.m., Saturday, May 6, 2023, at Norway Grove Lutheran Church, 820 River Road, DeForest, WI. A visitation will take place 3 hours prior to the service, from 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m., Saturday at the church. Memorials may be made to Agrace HospiceCare.

To view and sign this guestbook, please visit:

Ryan Funeral Home & Cremation Services

Windsor/DeForest Chapel

6924 Lake Road



6 May


10:00 AM - 01:00 PM

Norway Grove Lutheran Church 820 River Road DeForest, WI 53532 Get Directions »
6 May

Funeral Service

01:00 PM - 01:45 PM

Norway Grove Lutheran Church 820 River Road DeForest, WI 53532 Get Directions »
by Obituary Assistant

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  • June 18, 2023

    Mr. Erstad was my favorite teacher. I was part of the first class he taught after graduating from college. He made an impression on me that has lasted all my life. Rest in Peace. Greg Bessa

  • May 18, 2023

    My sympathy to Carol, Todd and Tanya. I enjoyed working with Mr. Erstad(as I would have to call him) as secretary to the principal at Three Lakes High School. He cared so much for the students and teachers. He will be greatly missed by his family and friends. God bless, Mary Greene

  • May 10, 2023

    My sincere condolences to Carol and the family. Mr Erstad was an inspiration to me and one of my favorite teachers. Even though he left the area (Three Lakes) many years ago he has never left the hearts he touched. May he live in peace and comfort now.

  • May 06, 2023

    Mr. Erstad was the principal during my years at Marathon high. He always listened and smiled at his students. And he was an example of Marathon pride. From Robin (Ross) Gosai

  • May 05, 2023

    We were blessed to have Mr. Erstad as out principal during our years at Marathon (94-98). He was a great role model and he had the gift of being able to connect with students and was always willing to listen whenever we needed it. He left such a positive impact on our lives. Eternal rest upon Dennis, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. Our condolences to Mr. Erstad's family.

  • May 05, 2023

    I remember Mr. E at Marathon High. He was the best principal. Living in Madison now with my own family, i happened upon his obituary. He was such a nice guy and someone that the students could really talk to if they needed something. He will be missed in this world. My condolences to the Family. -Christine (Lemanski) Ouali

  • May 04, 2023

    To the Erstad family, Dennis was truly a wonderful man. He was principal while I was in high school in Marathon and he was genuinely a great man! Very supportive and helpful with the students. He will not be forgotten!

  • May 04, 2023

    Sympathy to Carol and family .. a friend from Baraboo. Coreen Marklein

  • May 03, 2023

    Mr. Erstad was one of my favorite teachers in Jr. High. What an inspirational teacher. My condolences to the family.

  • May 03, 2023

    Deepest condolences to the entire family of Dennis Erstad. Dennis was a very respected and kind man who set high standards in education and was a true gentleman to all. May your memories warm your hearts during this time and in the days to come.

  • May 03, 2023

    Our condolences to the family. We have great memories from time we have spent together with Dennis in US and Norway. We will miss you Dennis. From Åshild and Kjell Erstad with family

  • May 03, 2023

    So Sorry to hear about Dennis, so many memories from many years ago! Judy Meder

  • May 03, 2023

    Respectfully I always called him Mr. Erstad. He was absolutely one of my favorite teachers in Three Lakes. I had him in several classes and as a wrestling coach. What a great example of a man to look up to. RIP Mr. Erstad!

  • May 03, 2023

    My condolences to family and friends. He was my history teacher in Three lakes and I remember him well. My prayers are with you.

  • May 03, 2023

    Condolences to the entire Erstad Family. I don't casually throw around the word "great", but Dennis was a great man. He will be missed by so many.

  • May 03, 2023

    Our sincere condolences to the family. May the memories comfort you all.


  • Sweet Tranquility Basket

    Sweet Tranquility Basket was sent for Dennis Einar Erstad - May 04, 2023

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what our families say

Tiffany Foster went out of her way to fulfill all my requests, talked me through problems I was facing, and tried to make me feel as comfortable as possible when I was a wreck, totally crushed, and I thank her with all of my heart for that.

James S. | July 2020

The professional manner of the staff made a difficult time a little easier.

Lynda R. | July 2020

Services provided for both parents were perfect, on time, and no issues. Brenda is awesome and strong!

Michael M. | July 2020

Skyler was absolutely amazing. She was so caring and helpful through this whole process. She even went above and beyond to meet with us in DeForest and even to make a stop at our home to drop off or pick up anything needed. While it was a small gesture, it was so helpful and greatly appreciated.

Brooke S. | Dec. 2020

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