Kevin Lee Deates, 60

Kevin Lee Deates, 60, Hall-of-Famer on and off the field, passed away unexpectedly on May 20, 2022, doing what defined him: giving.

Born on February 11, 1962, to Lee and Kathy Deates, Kevin grew up in Merrill, Wisconsin, and graduated from Merrill High in 1980. He later earned a bachelor’s degree from UW-Stevens Point.

An All-State football player in high school, he became an All-American and national champion in college. To him, football fostered the character and spirit of our future leaders. He went on to coach all ages, from youth sports to the collegiate level. As both a player and a coach, he developed authentic, lasting relationships, motivating those around him. He instilled the “Angry Dawg” defense mentality, inspiring his players to become the best version of themselves, in the game and in life. Many of his former athletes say they’d “run through a brick wall” for Coach Deates.

Kevin was an old-school woodsman through and through, and was happiest at “the shack” in the hardwoods of Price County and the spruce swamps of Eagle Creek in Three Lakes, relentlessly pursuing game in the company of his family and friends. He inherited the excellent marksmanship of his dad and was known as “the shooter” because he never missed.

A dedicated dad and “Poppy”, he lived to make others’ lives easier. He had a servant’s heart. His gift was instinctively seeing and meeting the needs of others—usually before they themselves recognized it. By turns, he was a caretaker, busboy, mechanic, “One Man, a Truck and a Trailer,” scorekeeper, chauffeur, short-order cook, grill master, shopper, pool boy, chief technology officer (with cellphones, especially), tree trimmer, dog trainer, medical assistant, boat driver, hunting guide, rough carpenter—emphasis on “rough”—mediator, academic advisor…in short, a coach, in more ways than one. He outshined his calling as a provider and met all of these roles with a humble, quiet kindness.

With the strength of a bear and the gentleness of a hummingbird, he developed the foundation in all those who were incredibly fortunate to know him. He lives on in everyone touched by his generosity and leaves behind the legacy of a champion.

Kevin will be immensely missed by his wife Maria of 35 years, his daughter Michelle, son Matt, son-in-law Chad and mother Kathy; grandchildren Allysa, Dameon, Alliya, David, Jordan, and Jayce, brother Steve, sister Kelli (Todd) Hinz, brothers Pete (Jen) Deates and Terry (Kris) Vanhoof, father-in-law Bob Wojtusik, sister-in-law Kathy (Ryan) Marx, brothers-in-law Mike (Ashley) and Dan (Jill) Wojtusik, and nieces and nephews Erin, Jourdyn, Allison, Marissa, Morgan, Jess, Jake, Josie, Ashley, Alisha, Amanda, Emily, Harlan, Joe, Bobby, Todd, Julie and last but not least his beloved Golden Retriever, Ruby.
A celebration of Kevin’s life will be held on Friday, May 27 at Smiley’s at 4020 County Hwy. R in Plover, with visitation beginning at 10 a.m. and a service at noon.

A memorial in Kevin’s name will be established.

Online condolences may be sent by visiting www.shudafuneral.com.