Namesake of James E. Dottke High School Dies at 89

Namesake of James E. Dottke High School Dies at 89
Posted on 09/28/2020
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James E. Dottke, 89, a resident of Oak Park, died in Chicago on September 6, 2020 with his family at his side. He grew up in Oshkosh, Wisconsin where he attended school, including earning a B.S. in Secondary Education from Wisconsin State College at Oshkosh. He also received an M.S. in Physical Education from Indiana University and a certificate in Mathematics for Teachers from Wayne State University.

He spent over 35 years teaching, coaching, serving as athletic director and principal at West Allis Central High School in the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District. He worked tirelessly to support school integration, for students who needed an alternative education, and for Title IX rights for girls' sports. 

While the principal at West Allis Central High School, James E. Dottke realized that there were some students who needed additional support and a different way to learn.  

“Mr. Dottke wanted to develop a program that would better serve at-risk students at Central High School,” said Peter Kraker, now retired from the District, “After a year of planning, a program was developed and opened in the field house at Franklin Elementary School.  I was the lead teacher and Mr. Dottke was the administrator that oversaw the program.  He had an unwavering commitment to it and that dedication later led to the school being named after him.”

An old-time educator who was tough and had high expectations of students and staff, Dottke was not afraid to confront the issues and make difficult decisions.  Yet, he loved nothing more than to help a struggling student in a difficult situation. “I was blessed to have been a student and later a teacher at Central High School while he was the principal.  I will forever cherish the images of Jim sitting down to eat lunch with us.  Students would tie a huge bib around his neck and serve him at any one of the many meals he shared there with "his" kids. They loved him and they knew he loved them too. Jim's vision and spirit will forever be part of that school -- a place he served so long and well,” added Kraker.

“Today students from both Central High School and Nathan Hale High School attend James E. Dottke.  Our staff has always respected and honored the foundation that Mr. Dottke created for our school.  For over 37 years, we have prided ourselves in offering intentionally different, personalized educational opportunities for students that thrive in a non-traditional high school model.  We are dedicated to continuing to serve every one of our students in a way that will help them find their true passion so they can live life on their own terms as positive members of our community,” said current principal, Greg Goelz. “Founded in 1983, James E. Dottke High School serves as a legacy to his commitment to all students.”

Jim Dottke was preceded in death by his wife, Nancy (nee Malchow), and his son-in-law, Michael Arthurs. He is survived by his daughters Lea Ann Dottke (Paula Hanley) and Jane Carol Arthurs.  In accordance with his wishes, cremation has taken place, with private interment at Southern Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery.