Foundation receives Deets Memorial Gift

The Fort Atkinson Community Foundation gratefully announces receipt of a gift made by the family of Corliss Deets in memory of the former Barrie School principal.  The memorial gift of $1,500 was directed by the family to the Foundation’s Barrie School Scholarship Fund where it will help provide matching funds to allow three Barrie School graduates to receive $1,000 Fred and Helen Rose Inspire-a-Dream scholarships.

Deets, who passed away this past November at the age of 86, spent 33 years working in the Fort Atkinson School District, finishing his career as principal at Barrie School, where he is still fondly remembered.  Fourth-grade teacher Bobbie Rawinski reminisced, “Corliss was the principal that hired me eons ago.  He believed that all kids could learn and we needed to figure out the key to make it happen for each of them.”

Deets also was well known for one pleasing habit.  “Corliss was a whistler,” Rawinski noted.  “People knew he was in a good mood when he would walk around the school whistling.  It is hard to hear someone whistling and not smile. He was just a nice person. His smile was contagious and he liked kids. He was a good man to work for and a good friend to have. Barrie School was lucky to have him as a principal.”

Each spring, a Barrie School committee nominates an 8th grader, who had previously attended Barrie School, to be their Rose Scholarship nominee.  To do this, they must have first have raised $500 to provide the matching funds.  The Foundation then matches it with $500 from the Rose Inspire a Dream Scholarship Fund for a $1,000 scholarship.  If the student continues to meet certain criteria during high school, they will be awarded the actual scholarship in the spring of their senior year.

The intention of this unique scholarship is to put the idea of college into the minds of students who otherwise might not be considering it.

With this new Corliss Deets memorial gift, Barrie School will have enough to provide matching funds for three new scholarships.

“On behalf of the entire Barrie community,” said Barrie School Principal Brent Torrenga, “I would like to extend a sincere ‘Thank You’ to the Deets family for their gracious generosity.  Mr. Deets has long been spoken of for his passion for students and his commitment to Barrie Elementary School.  His generous donation of $1,500 to help former Barrie Broncos as they prepare for education after high school will have long-lasting effects in such amazing ways.”

“This gift,” Torrenga concluded, “and the sincerity of the Deets family, is further evidence that Mr. Deets was always an educator at heart!”

More information about the Community Foundation’s scholarship program is available at or by contacting the administrator, Sue Hartwick at (920) 563-3210 (office), (920) 222-1191 (mobile) or via email at