Cover photo for Dean Alton Sheets's Obituary
Dean Alton Sheets Profile Photo

Dean Alton Sheets

April 27, 1927 — November 16, 2023

LEAVENWORTH

Dean Alton Sheets

 

Dean Alton Sheets (96) was born on April 27, 1927, he was the first boy born at Christ's Hospital in Topeka, KS (the
third baby).
His parents, George and Mary Harrison Sheets lived in Lyndon, KS at the time of his birth but they eventually
moved to Burlington, Kansas. Dean attended several grade schools in Topeka, KS until they moved to Admire, KS in
1938 where he went to a one room schoolhouse. As a freshman in 1941, they moved to Waverly KS, as a junior he
chose to go to school in Burlington, KS because they had an Agriculture program. In 1945, he graduated from
Burlington High School.
Dean had enlisted in US Navy, when he was 17 years old, March 31, 1945, between his Baccalaureate ceremony
and Graduation ceremony, May 16, 1945, he, and several other young men were sent to Basic Training Camp in
Great Lakes, IL. He was than stationed at Bremerton, WA and in San Francisco, CA, towards the end of World War
II.
In 1947, he returned home to help with the family farm in Burlington Kansas.
From 1948 to 1953 Sheets attended Kansas State University. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in
Agriculture with a major in Animal Husbandry.
Dean was interested in the wrestling team at KSU. He made the team for the 1949-1950 season, after being asked
to leave the program the year before. He worked hard to get a second chance and that is all it took. He lettered in
wrestling in 1950-1953. He finished third in the Big Eight tournament, wrestled in the Olympic trials twice and one
of his biggest accomplishments was that he was never pinned in his college career.
He fell in love with two things while attending K-State, the sport of wrestling and his wife Juanita Portwood,
probably in that order.
On January 1, 1954, one of the coldest days he could remember, Sheets started working at the Kansas City
Stockyards for Mayer-Neuer Packing Company as a cattle commission salesman. In 1960, he moved to the John
Clay Commission Company as a hog salesman. He moved around to a few other companies over the years. In 1991,
when the Stockyards closed, he retired 2 months shy of 38 years.
Sheets married his wife, Juanita on March 21, 1954, at the Quindaro Christian Church in Kansas City Kansas. They
lived in Kansas City, KS until 1963, when they moved to Linwood, KS where Dean resided until his death. They had
been married for 45 years when Juanita passed away in 1999. They raised five children, Monte, Jocelyn, Jeff, Mike,
and Stephanie together.
Dean and Juanita were very much involved in their kids’ active lives. In 1964, Dean became active in the
Leavenworth County Fair where he was the Swine Superintendent for 47 years. The Swine Barn at Leavenworth Co.
Fair Grounds in Tonganoxie, Ks was named after him in 2020 for his dedication to the swine project. He had been
the swine project leader and several other projects for the Lucky Clover 4-H Club.
He was also involved in the Linwood Community over the years, he coached the Linwood recreational softball,
baseball, wrestling teams, he was the announcer of the Linwood High School football games. He was the past
president of the Linwood Pioneer Festival, the Linwood Lions Club, He had been a member of the Kansas City
Livestock Exchange, also, a member of the Linwood United Methodist Church.
In 1956, Dean started officiating wrestling matches for the Kansas School for the Blind and the Kansas School for
the Deaf. They were the only schools in the KC area at that time that had wrestling. He retired from refereeing in
1981. Dean competed and coached wrestling at AAU and at the YMCA in Kansas City, Mo. until 1959.

In 1964, he started the Linwood Kids Wrestling Program. The next year, Coach Knorr at K-State sent out
information about a kid’s state tournament, Sheets took his sons and a handful of neighborhood boys to the
tournament. 60 boys showed up now there are over 8000 kids in wrestling in the state of Kansas.
Sheets was instrumental in jump starting wrestling in the eastern part of Kansas. Helping start the Bonner Springs
and Olathe North high school programs and several other high school programs.
The honors Sheets has earned for his dedication to the sport of wrestling includes: Kansas Kids Wrestling Man of
the Year, in 1992, induction into the Kansas Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1994 (Ft. Hays, Ks),
Kansas Sunflower State Games Male Athlete of the Year 2001, 2002 was asked to run the last leg of the Sunflower
State Games torch lighting, 2006 he was inducted into the Burlington High School Wrestling Hall of Fame(his alma
mater), and in 2018 he was chosen for Kansas Kids District 1 Man of the year.
Dean leaves a long legacy of wrestlers across the country. He took wrestling to heart in 1948 and he never looked
back. His sons all wrestled and 2 of them coached high school wrestling in Kansas. His two grandsons wrestled and
coached high school wrestling. His granddaughters also wrestled. His oldest daughter became a highly regarded
and first honored women sports editor in Kansas because of wrestling. His youngest daughter helped him coach
kids wrestling and was instrumental in starting the kids, middle and high school wrestling program in Iola, Ks.
In 2008, when he was 81 years old, he competed in his last wrestling tournament at the Kansas Sunflower Games
in Topeka, Ks. Dean pinned his 56-year-old opponent 2 times. Went to the center of the mat, took off his shoes,
walked off the mat with his fist held high and retired from competition. He did it his way, he walked off the mat as
a “True Champion”!
In 2018, he become less active in coaching the DeSoto Kids Wrestling Program due to his health, but he still went
to a few tournaments. He would not officially retire. He was stubborn that way. January 2022, he was honored at
the Dean Sheets Classic Wrestling Tournament held by the club. That was his last tournament, he loved every
moment of it.
Dean Sheets passed away peacefully in his sleep on November 16, 2023.
He is survived by his sons Monte Sheets, McLouth Ks, Jeffry (Pam) Sheets Richmond Hill, Ga, his daughter
Stephanie (Jeff) McDonald, Richmond, KS. His brother Arden Sheets, Hillsboro Or, his sister Jean (James) Carson,
Pagosa Spring, Co.
Five grandchildren, Michele (Fred) Dowd, (4 great grandchildren) Pomona, KS, Zachary (Chanelle) Sheets (2 great
grandchildren) Richmond Hill, Ga, Michael Sheets (1 great grandchild), Lawrence Ks, Shantel Sheets, OK and
Stephen (Daniela) McDonald, Worcester Ma.
Two granddaughters Ashtin Manthe (great grandson) and Raquel Manthe of McLouth Ks.
Three nieces and two nephews, and extended family members.
Dean’s final resting place will be at Mount Sydney Cemetery outside of Linwood next to his wife Juantia. The family
will have a private ceremony prior to his service on December 27, 2023.
Services will be held on December 27, 2023, visitation from 4-6pm and A Celebration of Dean’s Life from 6-7pm at
the “old” Linwood High School gymnasium at 215 Park Street Linwood, Ks 66052.
In lieu of Flowers the family will be setting up a Dean Sheets Memorial Fund that will be divided up between
Kansas Kids Wrestling and the Leavenworth Co Fair Swine project. Memorial Contributions and condolences may
be sent to Stephanie McDonald, PO Box 214 Richmond, Ks 66080

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