Age group track meets? Check. School talent shows? Check. Gifted and talented programs? Check. The Bellin Run? Check. The first and only indoor track meet in the history of the Brown County Arena? Check.
Hopefully there are events to organize and races to start in the afterlife, because our dad has reached the finish line on Earth and will need something to do. If not, he’ll find a way to create something from scratch, because that’s what he did.
Ronald E. Dauplaise, a Bellin Run legend on the strength of his role in helping coordinate the inaugural event in 1977 and serving as the race’s official starter for 40 years, died Monday, November 14, 2022, in Green Bay, Wisconsin. His passing marks the end of a life journey in which he always strove for excellence – a wonderful character trait that he and his late wife, Ellen (died January 5, 2022), instilled in their four children.
Born October 1, 1937, in Superior, Wisconsin, to George and Evelyn (MacKenzie) Dauplaise, Ron moved to Green Bay as a boy in 1946 when his father became principal at Green Bay West High School. The family lived in the school building for a short time upon arriving in Green Bay that summer. Ron and his sister, Barb, had the “honor” of attending West High under the rather large shadow cast by their father. Ron ran on the track team and enjoyed the impressive success of the school’s athletic teams during the 1950s, when the Wildcats were a state power in several sports. His interest in running would play a major role in his adult life. (More on that later.)
Ron then embarked on a nomadic journey through the University of Wisconsin system, first earning a bachelor’s degree in finance from UW-Oshkosh. It was during this time he began going steady with Ellen Jaseph, an extroverted beauty two years his junior and a fellow West High grad. Ron realized just how much he missed his girl while away at Army basic training, and proposed over the phone. Their rather hastily arranged wedding took place at Annunciation Catholic Church on April 22, 1961, during a brief window when he was home on leave before reassignment to Fort Bragg, North Carolina. As a member of the mighty finance corps there, Ron honed his bridge-playing skills with a group of guys who were great with numbers, but not exactly battle-hardened.
The couple returned to Green Bay just in time for the birth of their first child, Mike, in 1963, and Ron then continued his educational journey. He earned credits at UW-Eau Claire (major in communicative disorders); UW-Stevens Point (master’s degree in communicative disorders/audiology); UW-Madison (special education supervisor certification); and UW-Green Bay (post-grad studies in gifted/talented education). He stopped going to school after figuring 252 college credits (which was more than his PhD boss) probably was enough.
Ron spent most of his professional career with the Green Bay Public Schools, highlighted by 17 years as one of the district’s five special education supervisors. His interest in providing engaging programs for students in need of a challenge led to the development of the Super Saturday program, which was a local precursor to initiatives such as Talent Search and Advanced Placement.
After “retiring” in 1995, Ron went back into the classroom as a special education teacher in Green Bay and later Lena, Wisconsin. His organizational skills took center stage during his time at Fort Howard Elementary in Green Bay, where he produced a variety show featuring the school’s faculty, staff, students and families. He arranged to stage the show in the West High auditorium the first year, followed by two years at the Weidner Center on the UW-Green Bay campus. The Fort Howard Variety Show served as a great self-esteem builder for kids at one of Green Bay’s most at-risk schools.
The national running boom was just kicking into gear in the early 1970s, and Ron was at the forefront of the burgeoning community in the Green Bay area. In addition to participating in numerous “fun runs,” as they were called at the time, he also became well-known for coaching and event organization. The Dauplaise family became super fans of the Green Bay Preble High School track and cross country programs, traveling around Wisconsin to watch the meets and support the athletes. Ron dove into those sports head-first in 1973-74 when he served as head track and cross country coach at Green Bay East High School, followed by many years as a volunteer assistant coach to Jack Drankoff at Preble, specializing in the sprint relays, and finally as a WIAA official.
Track and field had become such an integral part of life in our household that our youngest sibling, Mark, came home from school in tears one day after learning a classmate had never been to a track meet. He obviously deduced that poor girl was suffering from some hideous form of neglect.
Our parents believed in expanding our horizons during our childhoods. They took us on a five-week tenting trip to the East Coast in 1976 for the Bicentennial events and the Summer Olympics in Montreal (mostly to watch track and field, of course!), and then to the West Coast two years later for a five-week RV journey. We were truly fortunate to have parents willing to take four kids on such adventures.
Ron and Ellen moved the family out to the bay on Edgewater Beach Road in 1982, and over time turned what had been a dumpy little cottage into a cozy, attractive home. It was the site of numerous parties over the years, and their sunset view was worth the price of admission.
Ron later found his second career calling as a tour guide at Lambeau Field in 1999 upon the stadium’s major renovation. A Packers fan since childhood and a history buff of the team, Ron shared his research with fans that visited the stadium from around the world. He took pride in never giving the same tour twice, as his knowledge base was that extensive.
In addition to following his favorite sports teams (yes, including the Cubs), Ron’s passion was woodworking. He reserved his most impressive projects for immediate family, and they will be treasured keepsakes forever.
The pride of Ron’s life were his four kids, to whom he offered consistently positive reinforcement: Mike and his wife, Bonnie Groessl (Green Bay), and her sons Nick and Ben; Renee and her husband, Robert Karp (Middleton, Wisconsin); Denise (Green Bay) and her daughters, Mallory, Brigid and Tatum Eisenreich; and Mark and his wife, Melanie (Bristol, Rhode Island), and their children, Paige and Gaven. Also surviving is his sister, Barbara Jenkins (Manitowoc, Wisconsin).
Ron claimed he often was either “George’s son” or “Mike’s dad,” because of his father’s and eldest son’s relative notoriety. However, that assessment sold short his own impact on the world. Optimistic to the outside world but a tad less to those who knew him best, our dad now can relax in the knowledge he lived a good life and is receiving the ultimate reward. Saint Paul appropriately captures Ron’s quiet faith as he joins his wife in heaven: “I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.”
Our family would like to thank the skilled caregivers at Oak Park Place for their patient and compassionate care of both of our parents.
Family and friends may visit St. Louis Catholic Church in Dyckesville on Wednesday, November 23, 2022, from 9 a.m. until the hour of Mass at 11 a.m. Full military honors will follow the Mass. Burial will follow in the church cemetery. Malcore (East) Funeral Home is assisting the family.
In lieu of flowers, please consider honoring our dad’s love of education with a donation to College Ready Wisconsin (previously Scholarships, Inc.) at
or mail to Ron Dauplaise Memorial, CollegeReady, 715 Superior Rd., Green Bay WI 54311.