LAKE PLACID - The family of Dean Preston Wikoff is saddened to bring the news of his passing on Easter Sunday, April 8, 2012. Dean, the son of the late Climena and William Rufus Wikoff, and long-time manager of the Mirror Lake Inn in Lake Placid, died quietly of natural causes in his room at Freedom Village, a retirement home where he lived for the past 15 years.
Born on April 28, 1926, Dean was native of Lake Placid and a graduate of the Lake Placid High School, class of 1944, where he participated in sports, school plays and made the Junior Chorus. He went on to become a New England AAU Champion swimmer, winning both the 440 and 200 yard freestyles in his freshman year at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., as well as winning the New York State Intercollege swim meet that same year. Also, he was an active skier who skied in the Nationals in 1946.
Active in the Adirondack Community Church as a teen, Wikoff gained his license to preach within the Methodist Church from Taylor University and served as Lay Leader and Lay Preacher at the church until the late 1960's. While attending the Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management at the University of Denver he took up swimming again lettering in 1950, winning several meets, and joined their ski team. Then during the early 1950s, he joined the Army and became a sergeant in the Korean War stationed in Germany. He had the rare privilege of meeting Pope Pius at the Vatican while touring on duty.
When Dean returned to the states in 1952, he went to work for his mother, Climena Wikoff, at the Mirror Lake Inn, eventually taking over as manager from his older brother Jack when he and his wife Gretel decided to establish their own business, a ski lodge on Wilmington Road. While working at the Inn he met Marion Feren, who he married April 11, 1953. She, known as Mimi to all, became the reservations manager and a popular local artist.
Dean became very active in community affairs especially the Kiwanis Club, serving as president; the Lake Placid Chamber of Commerce, serving as membership chair; on the Lake Placid Zoning Board of Appeals, as chair; as president of the Uihlein Mercy Center Advisory Board; treasurer of the Tri-Lakes Council of Churches; and as a long-time member of the Lake Placid Fire Department to name but a few.
Dean maintained a poetry column in the Lake Placid News under the banner Mountain Peaks, participated in a local polar bear club that took an annual January plunge, taught skiing at the Inn's Dream Hill, became an early 46er, and, in perhaps in one of his more unexpected and seemingly out of character accomplishments, took third place in the 1957 World Smoking Championships, held that year in Lake Placid. He was beaten by his brother Jack, taking second, and town Supervisor Harold Soden who won.
In 1976, Dean sold the Inn to Ed Weibrect and moved to Bradenton, Fla. He became a real estate broker for Century 21, and then went on to become vice-president of the Community Bank. In the early '80s, he began writing poetry for The Bradenton Herald.
In 1984 Marion passed away. Dean retired in order to care full time for his daughter, and then in 1987 married Hildegarde Link. Hildy had a cottage at Silver Bay, where they spent many summers, and Dean became a volunteer fireman in the neighboring town of Hague.
Another sad time came in 2002, when Hildy passed away. A few years after her death, Dean married his high school sweetheart Faith Lansing Grafinger, who also was a widower living in Pennsylvania. She moved to Florida and they spent many happy years together until Dec. 21, 2011, when she passed away.
Dean was predeceased by his two brothers Robert and Jack (aka John H.), his parents, and is survived by his daughter Kristina Edstrom, and two sons Thomas and William, all three of Bradenton, and his first-born son Chip, of Los Angles, as well as, six nieces, five nephews and four grandchildren. Dean's grandfather was the well-known guide Harvey Alford, and his grandmother Effie Preston.
A memorial service will be held for Dean Wikoff at the Adirondack Community Church in Lake Placid at 11 a.m. on July 14, 2012. Funeral services were held in Bradenton. In lieu of flowers, contributions are asked to be made in his name either to the American Cancer Society or Southeastern Guide Dogs of Palmetto, Fla.