McFarland, Wis. - 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, Wis., 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 Nov. 26, 1966.

After graduation, Dennis taught English at Three Lakes Middle School. After three 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, “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 Badgers 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. He 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; 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 was held May 6, 2023, in DeForest, Wis.

Memorials may be made to Agrace Hospice Care. To view and sign the guestbook, please visit