Donald Adams Dake
Apr. 3, 1917 - Dec. 7, 1998
SOUTH BEND -- Donald A. Dake, a longtime supporter of the arts and a former South Bend Community School Corp. superintendent, died Monday in South Bend. He was 81.
Dake, of Robinhood Lane, served the South Bend schools for more than 40 years as a teacher, administrator and superintendent before his retirement in 1979.
He held the top position in the school system during one of the most challenging decades in the system's history. He became superintendent in 1969 at the height of student protests and in an age of racial change.
The desegregation of city schools occupied much of Dake's time and talent and he was known for accomplishing the task without taking a confrontational approach.
As recently as 1990, Dake was selected by U.S. District Judge Allen Sharp to monitor the desegregation process in the Fort Wayne schools. He was charged with making sure that Fort Wayne Community Schools and a citizens group called Parents for Quality Education with Integration held to a plan for racially balancing elementary schools in that city.
During his decade of service at the helm of the South Bend schools, Dake witnessed and led the adoption of the middle school approach in the city, and he oversaw the controversial task of closing Central High School and converting Jackson from a high school to a middle school.
He was known for his long-standing support of the arts, and he helped form the Michiana Arts and Sciences Council.
Dake also worked to promote the efforts of the South Bend Symphony, the Michiana Opera Guild and the Michiana Public Broadcasting Corp.
He was born in April 1917, in Flint, Mich., and earned his bachelor's degree from Michigan State University and his master's degree from Indiana University.
He served in the Army Air Corps during World War II.
During his days with the South Bend schools, Dake was a teacher at John Adams High School, director of pupil personnel for the schools and was a principal at Riley High School.
He also served as director of secondary education and assistant superintendent of instruction. In 1988 he was inducted into the South Bend School Boosters Hall of Fame.
The recipient of many major honors for his civic commitment, Dake received the South Bend Rotary Club's Distinguished Community Service Award in 1985. He earned the Michiana Arts and Sciences Council Community Arts Award in 1980 and was honored with a community tribute dinner after his retirement from the school system in 1979.
He also served as vice chairman of the board of the South Bend Symphony and as chairman of the board of the Snite Museum of Art.
Dake and his wife, Marijane, had one son, Michael David Dake.
Welsheimer Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Published in the South Bend Tribune on December 8, 1998.
Dake led schools in his own style
The death of Donald A. Dake on Monday at 81 removed from the community one of the legendary names of South Bend education.
Dake in a career that began here in 1940 taught in the classroom, served as principal of Riley High School, and held several corporation-level administrative positions, including that of superintendent. He retired in 1979.
Dake by nature was a patrician for whom etiquette always had its place. A recognizable figure standing with his hands gripping his lapels, Dake unfailingly brought civility to an often rough-and-tumble world around him.
As one who valued privacy as well, Dake may well have taken to his grave the range of emotions he experienced as a Southeast Side resident during the tumultuous Riley-Jackson years of the early 1970s.
The school board's decision to convert Jackson from a high school to middle school, leaving Riley as the only high school at that end of town, officially closed the issue. But its effects reverberated throughout the community for years.
Dake had become superintendent with the return to Illinois of Charles Holt in 1969. Dake's style was a low-key approach to the demands that racial unrest placed upon the school system during his 10 years as its chief.
Dake's civilizing influence also was present among the arts. He helped organize the Michiana Arts and Sciences Council, and promoted the South Bend Symphony, the Michiana Opera Guild and Michiana Public Broadcasting Corp.
South Bend, as is true of any other community, has had its share of activists, advocates, critics and leaders down through the years.
Dake, perhaps as much for his style as his accomplishments, was unquestionably acknowledged as a leader, and will be remembered that way.
Published in the South Bend Tribune on December 11. 1998.