Dale Lazenby’s tough exterior was comparable to any no nonsense type of guy, but when someone got to know him, it was clear to see he was a good-hearted man who would help anyone down on their luck. A man of his word, Dale never met a stranger, but always stood his ground when needed, and never backed down from confrontation. His love of the outdoors brought contentment, but his greatest joy was found in his primary focus in life – his family. Deeply missed, Dale’s memory lives on in those who came to know and love him.
The 1950s marked a quieter, more stable time while sculpting the culture of America. Everything from music to movies, art and media to beloved comic strips and cartoons introduced households to a whole new way of life. During this age of growth and innocence, the world was made brighter when on February 11, 1952, Earl and Dolores (Kasal) Lazenby welcomed the birth of their little boy, Dale Edward into their arms.
Born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on the city’s east side, Dale grew up sharing a close bond with his older sister, Nancy in their family home on Commerce Street / Riverboat Road. Although close, sibling rivalry often got the best of them as they typically argued and teased one another. Dale had sensitive toes, and Nancy knew just how to get Dale riled up by grabbing them. His father served as a Milwaukee police officer while his mother worked as an office manager for VNA.
Like many young boys, Dale enjoyed a childhood typical for the times filled with adventure and friends. When he was about nine, he asked for a BB gun for Christmas. When he received this treasured gift, Dale and his dad took it outside to try it out. Dale’s very first shot hit the ground, ricocheted, and then shot right through their big living room window . . . it was definitely a Christmas they would never forget! At the age of 13, Dale received a drum set from his father for Christmas and it was one of his most prized possessions. He loved playing the drums, and also went on to learn to play the accordion, often playing the Marine Corps hymn.
Dale attended the area schools and as a family they were devoted to their Catholic faith. After Mass at St. Hedwig Church on Sundays, Dale and his mother often took the bus out to County Stadium to the Braves baseball games. As a teen he loved music, and one of his favorite songs included the hit, “Wipe Out” by the Surfaris. Along with friends, Dale often frequented many of the CYO – Catholic Youth Organization’s dances as a teenager.
With the Vietnam War raging overseas, Dale enlisted in the Marine Corps Ready Reserves, serving from 1970 to 1976. He headed to San Diego, California for basic training and returned to Milwaukee where he underwent additional training on the weekends. Upon enlisting, Dale didn’t want to cut his long hair so he improvised. After buying a short wig he affectionately named, Roscoe, his mother put a stocking over his head and used bobby pins to hold his hair in place under the wig. He needed to comply with the Marine’s strict policy on hair length, but when his fellow Marines followed suit, the drill instructors were not happy with Dale’s idea. Wig and all, Dale excelled in the Marines. And with his BB gun days behind him, Dale advanced from Private to Lance Corporal, and went on to become an excellent sharpshooter and a good leader. Throughout his time in the service, Dale made many good friends with whom he kept in contact with throughout the years.
Dale furthered his education while studying for two years at MATC, completing his apprenticeships in tuckpointing/caulking and bricklaying. He worked as a brick and stone mason, and as a tuckpointer/caulker for various contractors. He even had his own business for a time. Work for Dale was never consistent, so Dale found fulltime work at Wisconsin Memorial Park doing masonry work and odd jobs. With his love for the outdoors, his chosen career suited him well.
Even though Dale knew Mary Ellen Schlagenhaft as a teenager, they never really got to know each other until reconnecting sometime later at Ferrara’s. They made a date to play pool, and Mary proved to be a more than worthy opponent when she “kicked his butt.” From that first date, Dale and Mary were nearly inseparable, and were the best companions. Before long, love was in the air and on August 11, 1978, they were married.
Dale counted the day he married Mary as one of the greatest days of his life because it also began a lifetime of happiness and love he had never before quite known. He was a loving husband, and was very proud of their three sons, Eric, Casey, and Ryan. Always there for them, he was dedicated and devoted to his family. Holidays were a special time for Dale because it gave him the opportunity to spend more time with his family which always proved to be a good time.
As a family they enjoyed traveling to northern Wisconsin every year to fish or just hang out. When Mary’s nephew had a destination wedding in Mexico, Dale and Mary not only went to the wedding, but stayed for a week. Dale spoke of their trip often and joked that it was like being newlyweds again. Dale always said he was a “goose” because he had one mate-for life. A beloved man, he shared an awesome relationship with his family, friends and the countless pets he and Mary welcomed into their home through the years.
Among many things, Dale and Mary shared a loved for animals and not only contributed financially to the Wisconsin Humane Society over the years, but often took in strays until a “forever home” could be found for them. Dale’s current dogs were Dobby and Grace, and cats, Eddie and Cricket. With their unconditional love and uncanny ways, they could always bring a smile to Dale’s face. When he coached little league, Dale’s dogs always became the team’s mascot and before hitting the field, each player patted the dog’s head for good luck
Dale had many interests. His love for music continued and he especially enjoyed listening to songs which included a good horn section. He loved Carlos Santana and the latin beats that came along with his music. Dale also enjoyed John Wayne Movies. He did a great John Wayne impersonation, complete with the walk and talk, and would often entertain his family with his charade. Besides movies with The Duke, Dale also liked watching military movies. He loved listening to talk radio to keep up with current events, and enjoyed watching The History and The Discovery channels just to mention a few.
A typical sports fan, Dale loved watching the Milwaukee Braves and Milwaukee Brewers. His family were Green Bay Packers fans and they all watched Packers football together. As a member of the NRA, Dale was an avid gun collector, too. He spent many months teaching his boys gun safety, and eventually got each of them a firearm and concealed carry permit. He regularly took them to the range to be certain they knew how to handle their guns. The outdoors was by far one of Dale’s favorite places to be. He loved fishing and enjoyed making jigs and lures for everyone, often referring to it as his “jig factory.” Hunting for duck and pheasant was something he loved doing because of the challenge. As Dale would say, “if you’re going to do it, do it right.”
With his wonderful sense of humor, Dale could always brighten the day of anyone and loved bringing a smile to their faces. He found his life’s companion in the heart of Mary, and his sons were the delight of his life. Dale appeared to be tough on the outside, but just like his grandfather, Papa, Dale was a loving, soft-hearted soul on the inside. For these things and so much more, Dale will be deeply missed and forever remembered.
Dale E. Lazenby died Sunday, June 22, 2014 at the age of 62. He was the beloved husband and best friend of Mary (nee Schlagenhaft); the cherished father of Eric (Katherine), Casey, and Ryan; the loving grandfather of Calvin; the dear son of Earl and Dolores (nee Kasal) Lazenby; and the dear brother of Nancy (Arthur) Reimer. He is also survived by other relatives, friends, and his canine companions, Dobby and Grace.
Family and friends will gather to celebrate Dale’s life on Saturday, July 5, 2014 at the Suminski/Weiss Funeral Home from 11:00 AM until the time of his Memorial Service at 12:00 noon. In lieu of flowers, memorials to the Wisconsin Humane Society. To share a favorite memory and photo of Dale and to sign his online guest book, please visit www.SuminskiFuneralHome.com. Suminski LifeStory Funeral Homes-Suminski/Weiss, 1901 N. Farwell Ave. 414-276-5122.