David M. Adickes

David Adickes of Onalaska, Wisconsin passed away peacefully in his home on Wednesday, January 29th.


David Adickes of Onalaska, Wisconsin passed away peacefully in his home on Wednesday, January 29th. He was born on December 9th, 1936 to Martin and Erna Adickes in Elk Grove, Wisconsin. He became a member of God’s family on December 27th through the sacrament of Holy Baptism. David was raised on the family’s dairy farm with his older brother Robert. His father Martin taught him to love working the earth, and his mother Erna instilled in him a deep love of music as his first piano teacher. Throughout his SCHOOLING David was active in music, forensics, and 4-H.

From early on, David knew he wanted to become a teacher. After graduating from Belmont High School in 1954, he attended Dr. Martin Luther College where he sang in the traveling choir and was assistant director of the college band. His college career was interrupted for one year by heart surgery in 1955. He was one of the first patients at the Mayo Clinic to survive an aortic transplant. Dave underwent several heart surgeries over the years, each time courageously working his way back to full health.

While still a student, Dave was asked to emergency teach at Northwestern Lutheran Academy in Mobridge, South Dakota. That experience opened his eyes to the joys of teaching high school students, and helped shape his whole career.

Upon his graduation from Dr. Martin Luther College, David married the love of his life, Gloria Kay Litke of Benton Harbor Michigan. Their relationship was destined to be. They were both assigned the same dinner table in the school cafeteria. When Dave met Gloria and he knew he wanted to devote his life to her.

Newlyweds Dave and Gloria moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, where he taught 5th and 6th grade at St. John’s Lutheran School. In 1962, began teaching at Luther High School in Onalaska, Wisconsin, serving as head of the fledgling music department. Dave was a brilliant and dynamic teacher who made lessons come to life for his students. In partnership with his mentor, Frank Italiano, the music department flourished. Frank and Dave were passionate and talented teachers who inspired students to love music, and to strive for excellence. The musical tradition they established still resonates today at Luther.

In 1967 David founded the National Lutheran Choral Festival at Luther High School. Since then, thousands of students from schools across the country have been a part of the annual event.

In 1985, David began serving as Assistant Principal in charge of Student Affairs. Many students found out the hard way that he took school rules seriously and experienced his loving but firm discipline. While at Luther, David taught his 5 children and 2 of his grandchildren. He retired from Luther High School in 2004, having completed 45 years in the public ministry.

Throughout his life, David was never one to sit still. He sold life insurance for AAL, provided dormitories for Luther students and managed multiple apartments. David had a passion for woodworking, and his many creations reflected his artist’s eye and his deep and abiding faith in God.

Dave was a devoted husband and father, and he loved his family deeply. Always the teacher, Dave’s family vacations often included impromptu history lessons. He joked that he was a good history teacher because he had “lived through most of it.” He lived his faith every day, and his great love for his Lord and Savior was evident to everyone who knew him.

David is survived by his wife Gloria (Litke), and five children. Dr. Martin David (1961) of Port Angeles, Washington, Carolyn Ruth Taylor (1963) of Phoenix, Arizona, Paul Arthur (1968) of Barre Mills, Wisconsin, Susan Rebecca (1970) of Onalaska Wisconsin, and Christopher John (1974) of Grafton, Wisconsin. He is survived by eight grandchildren, Emily Scheevel, Eric Pederson, Gretchen Adickes, Benjamin Adickes, Jennifer Adickes, Madeline Adickes, Katrina Adickes, and Finnian Adickes. He was loved by four great grandchildren, Ellie Pederson, Amelia Pederson, William Scheevel, and David Scheevel.

A memorial service will be held at First Evangelical Lutheran Church in La Crosse on Saturday February 8th at 2:00 p.m. Visitation will be from 12 to 2 p.m. Memorial donations can be made to First Evangelical Lutheran Church Day Care, the Luther High School Finish the Work Campaign, and the Luther High School Music Department