Debra Dawn (Dickinsen) Nugent, 68, passed away peacefully Saturday, February 15, 2020, at Augusta Health and Rehabilitation from complications related to Alzheimer’s.
Deb was born on Mother’s Day, May 13, 1951, in Eau Claire, WI, to Dale and Jeanine (Hubbard) Dickinsen. The first of five children, she was an educator from birth, teaching her father the importance of Mother’s Day gifts right from the start, even if only one of his mother’s aprons. She was later baptized and confirmed at the Augusta United Methodist Church, remaining a faithful Methodist Christian throughout her life. She started her education in a one-room schoolhouse before graduating Valedictorian from Augusta High School in 1969, where she made several close friendships that continued and flourished until her death. She originally planned on going into Computer Science after graduation until a high school field trip introduced her to the field of special education and her passion for teaching. She attended the University of Wisconsin - Whitewater where she met her husband Robert while they were both working in the student cafeteria. Following the tradition of “love at first sight,” started by her parents and passed to her son James and daughter-in-law Jamie, they were engaged in 1970. Bob confused many of his friends when he presented her with a “moldy diamond,” more commonly known as an emerald, ring. They were married on Sunday, August 8, 1971, at the Augusta United Methodist Church in Augusta, WI, and thus began their 48 years of wedded adventure.She graduated with a Bachelor’s in Education in summer 1972, with a license in Special Education, frustrating her professors and advisors by refusing to include an elementary or subject license as a back-up. They moved to Stevens Point, WI, where she started her teaching career at Washington Elementary and in October 1974, they welcomed their first child, Jeanine. They celebrated 1976, back in Augusta where they remained for several years and added a second girl to the family, Danielle, in July 1976.
Deb started doing Tupperware parties, soon becoming a top-seller and manager, while continuing to find ways to replace pieces and missing covers for family and friends for years to come. In 1981, she joined Bob as he took a teaching job with North Fond Du Lac schools, where she enjoyed long-term subbing, selling tickets for many sporting events, and was a Girl Scout leader for several years.In July 1982, they added James, their first son, to the family.Their frequent moves often had them owning several homes at once, and, in 1985, they returned to Augusta for a year after Bob accepted a position with Blair School District while they sold one of their houses. In 1986, they moved to Blair, WI, and in October 1986, son Corey completed their family. Deb subbed for several local districts before accepting a full-time position with Independence School District in 1987. In summer 1990, the family moved to Cumberland, WI, where Bob had accepted a high school principal position. Within weeks of moving there, her boys were introduced to hockey and her 10+ years of volunteering with the Cumberland Hockey Association began. In 1991, she joined the Chetek School District where she remained until her health forced her to retire in 2011.
During her 20 plus years of teaching, she not only educated the students in her classrooms but also showed others the importance of making sure all children were included in educational, social, and community activities regardless of any disability. For many summers you could find her teaching summer school or directing special needs camps with the United Methodist Church at Pine Lake and Whispering Pines. In 2001, she took over the after school program with Chetek School District, providing more academic, social, community, and cultural experiences for her students and those of the entire district. In 2002, she wrote a Century 21 grant for a relatively new state-wide Community Learning Center initiative and was awarded one of 61 state grants for nearly $100,000. Over the next several years, she wrote and was awarded an additional two Century 21 Grants for the district, along with a special grant opportunity from U.S. Congressman Dave Obey. Her love of teaching and commitment to volunteering encouraged her to travel to South Korea in 1999, with the United Methodist Church, to teach English to South Korean children and adults. In 2000, she helped coordinate South Korean students coming to Wisconsin communities for a one-month English immersion opportunity where they could improve their English speaking skills and introduce local students and community members to the South Korean culture. In 2001, her oldest son James joined her along with a group of students in South Korea for the summer and, in 2002, Bob and Corey joined her before they traveled to Japan for the International Lions Convention. She continued this mission for many years, returning to South Korea for 6 summers before grandchildren arrived, making 7+ week trips overseas too long between grandma visits. She was extremely proud to have visited all 50 of the United States along with Canada, Mexico, Ireland, England, Scotland, Germany, Austria, South Korea, and Japan. A third generation member of Lion’s Club International, Deb was a member of several local clubs including Augusta, Cumberland, and Rice Lake Lions.
She is survived by her husband Bob (Rice Lake, WI); children Jeanine Nugent (Rice Lake, WI), Danielle Nugent (Cumberland, WI), James (Jamie) Nugent (Eau Claire, WI), and Corey Nugent (Appleton, WI); grandchildren McKaylee, Jaidan, Charlie, and Henleigh Dawn; mother Jeanine Dickinsen (Augusta, WI); siblings Kent (Debbie) Dickinsen (Augusta, WI), Brent (Debbie) Dickinsen (Augusta, WI), Stacia (Brian) Strauch (Augusta, WI), and Dana Dickinsen (Madison, WI); and in-laws Chuck (Bella) Nugent (Tucson, AZ), Janet Nugent (Rochester, NY), Larry (Marianne) Nugent (Livingston Manor, NY), and Joyce (Christopher) Plail (Canandaigua, NY) along with many nieces, nephews, and cousins she loved visiting throughout the United States.
She was predeceased by her father Dale Dickinsen (2014), nephew Braden Dickinsen (2008), nephew Warren Honadel (2019), mother-in-law Betty Nugent (2007), and father-in-law Charles Nugent, Sr. (1997).
A prayer service and visitation will be held on Friday, February 28, 2020, at the Cumberland First United Methodist Church, with visitation from
4-7 pm with a short prayer service following. A light supper will be available for family and friends during this time.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, February 29, 2020, at Augusta United Methodist Church, with visitation from 9-11 am with memorial service starting at 11 am and graveside service at West Lawn Cemetery immediately following. A lunch will be served following the service.
The family would like to thank Dr. Barb Ankarlo along with staff from Woodstone Senior Living, Augusta Health and Rehabilitation, and St. Croix Hospice for their patience, love, and care these last several years.
Anderson Funeral Home, Augusta, WI, is assisting the family.
After her family, Deb’s students were some of the most important people in her life.
The family would like to honor her passion for teaching and commitment to all students having what they need to succeed academically and ask for donations of school supplies in lieu of flowers and plants. Collection boxes will be available at both services with donated supplies going to local schools where her grandchildren, nieces, and nephews attend and work.
Other organizations close to Deb’s heart include Wisconsin Lion’s Foundation, Inc (Lion’s Camp); St. Croix Hospice; Ronald McDonald House; myTeamTriumph-Wisconsin; and Cumberland Community Cares.