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Lake Geneva's first female mayor remembered as tough and honest

Lake Geneva's first female mayor remembered as tough and honest


The first woman elected mayor of Lake Geneva is being remembered as kind, energetic and outgoing.

Beatrice Dale died July 26 at the Golden Years Nursing Home in Lake Geneva at the age of 87.

Dale’s daughter, Mary Zwiebel, said her mother was well liked by the many people who knew her in the community.

“She might not agree with you, but she would listen to your point of view and try to take it into account,” Zwiebel said. “She wasn’t always set in her ways.”

Dale was born June 26, 1932, in Linn Township to Henry and Eva Van Dyke.

She graduated from Lake Geneva High School in 1949, then attended Wisconsin Teachers College in Milwaukee.

She married Ralph Dale in 1952, and the couple remained married until Ralph died in September 2012.

First female alderman

Dale became Lake Geneva’s first female alderman, serving from 1977 to 1980 and then again from 1986 to 1990. She was a member of the Plan Commission, Water Commission and Police and Fire Commission.

Dale also served on the Lake Geneva Joint No. 1 Elementary School Board from 2002 to 2017, and most recently was a member of the Lake Geneva Charter School Board.

Dale first ran for mayor in April 1990, losing to then-incumbent Spyro Condos. Two years later, she challenged Condos again and was elected to become the city’s first female mayor.

Dale lost her bid for re-election in April 1994, losing to Jane Bradley.

Her son, Robert Dale, said his mother always tried to serve constituents to the best of her ability. He remembered her saying that one-third of the people will agree her, and one-third will be upset with her.

“It’s the other third you’ve got to meet in the middle,” Robert said. “She knew not everybody was going to be happy.”

Good sense of humor

Police Chief Michael Rasmussen said he had a good working relationship with Dale over the years. Rasmussen said Dale had both a serious and humorous side to her.

“No matter the issue, she could always keep a sense of humor,” he said. “But she could be tough.”

In addition to local politics, Dale managed her family-owned Van Dyke Boats and Motel in Buttons Bay from 1978 to 1995. She also worked as a real estate broker and a bookkeeper for Walter Dale Inc.

Cared about students

School Superintendent James Gottinger said Dale was a strong school board member and cared about the students getting a good education.

“She was no-nonsense,” Gottinger said. “She would give you an honest opinion on any issue.”

Marcie Hollman, president of the Lake Geneva Joint No. 1 Elementary School Board, said she enjoyed serving with Dale on the board over the years. Hollman described Dale as a kind and caring person.

“She brought a wealth of experience with her,” Hollman said. “She was a strong advocate for public education both for the students and the teachers.”

Zwiebel said many people often encouraged her mother to run for mayor again.

Dale also worked as a substitute teacher and school bus driver. Zwiebel said her mother stopped driving a school bus several years ago after she was diagnosed with macular degeneration and lost her commercial driver’s license.

Involved in community

Dale was involved with other community groups, including the Lake Geneva United Methodist Church, Frank Kresen American Legion Post No. 24 Auxiliary, Christian Arts Center and Lakeland Players.

The Rev. Heather Brewer of Lake Geneva United Methodist Church said Dale was an active member of the church, helping to lead groups and projects, as well as doing some preaching.

“We absolutely loved her to pieces,” Brewer said. “She was a truth teller. You didn’t ask her a question unless you wanted to hear the answer.”

Robert Dale said his mother tried to remain active even after her eyesight started to deteriorate.

He said when she no longer had a driver’s license, she purchased a battery-powered scooter to get around.

“She put a lot of miles on it,” he said. “She still wanted her independence to get around, and she did.”

Visitation for Dale is scheduled for 4 to 7 p.m. Friday at Derrick Funeral Home and Cremation Services. A service is planned at 11 a.m. Saturday at the funeral home.


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