Dee Ann loved helping people and fully embraced a life full of action, caring and giving. She died in her McCullough family home in Brady on Thursday, February 20th surrounded by her loving family and cats. Born March 9th, 1939 in Newton Kansas, she was preceded in death by her mother, Miriam Mc-Cullough Green and her father John Dee Green. She is survived by her husband of 61 years, Lane Birkel, her four children Rebecca Birkel (Ronald Hancock) of Bettystown Ireland, Jeffrey Birkel (Karla Dinh-Birkel) of Peoria Illinois, Laura Desmarais (Tom) San Mateo California, and Mary Birkel (Jason Schneiderman) of Portola Valley California and six grandchildren Katherine, Matthew, Michael, Andrew, Liam and Finn.
Having graduated Brady High School in 1956 she went on to receive a B.S. in Education from the University of Nebraska Lincoln in 1961. From 1964 through 1970 she taught physical education part time at Pius 10th High School in Lincoln Nebraska where she is remembered for starting and coaching the Thunderettes girls dance team, which is still active today over 50 years later. After moving to Muncie Indiana in 1970, she joined her husband teaching at Ball State University receiving a M.S. degree in Education in 1975 and began her Ball State career as a P.E. instructor in 1977. In 1985 she received the title of Assistant Professor after completing an additional 46 hours of graduate studies. She was best known for starting the yoga program at Ball State having personally instructed over 6000 students in her career. It quickly became the most popular and desired class on campus and she was voted Ball State’s favorite professor by the student body. Dee Ann was also very active in exercise and health for older adults having initiated the minors program for Physical Activity for Older Adults. She was an author of the first Hatha Yoga college textbook Ha textbook Hatha Yoga: Developing the Body, Mind and Inner Self and the book, Forever Fit: A Step by Step Guide for the Older Adult. She started the exercise program for Ball State University retirees and gave many, many talks, conference presentations and publications too numerous to list during the course of her 24-year teaching career. She and her husband retired together in 2001 and moved to her childhood home in Brady Nebraska. In 2005 she began her quest to found the Brady Public Library which opened in 2007 and where she also served as one of the librarians until 2017.
Funeral Services were held Monday, March 2nd at 10am at St Patrick’s Catholic Church in North Platte Nebraska officiated by the Revered Joshua Brown with burial in the McCullough Family Cemetery just south of Maxwell Nebraska. Visitation was held on Sunday March 1st at Carpenters Funeral Home in North Platte Nebraska from 5 to 7pm with a rosary following at 7pm. Memorials in Dee Ann’s honor may be made to the Brady Public Library or the Alzheimer’s Association.
Dee Ann will be missed by many, but her memory and actions will live on in the lives of all the people she touched throughout her life.