Alpena, Mich — Alpena Hall of Famer Donald Deadman starts almost every morning with a trip to the APLEX to work out. He loves working on his upper body, but is focused on maintaining his health.
“I want to stay healthy, so I workout everyday. I come in here, pump iron. I feel blessed, that I’m still – at 81 years old – still healthy.”
Deadman was inducted as part of the 2018 Alpena Hall of Fame class and joins fellow gymnast Don Schuelke (Hall of Fame Class of 2002) from the 1954 and 55 team. The two friends dominated gymnastics together, with Schuelke taking home the all-around title in 1954. Deadman was right behind him, taking second place all-around. Donald was the best in state on the parallel bars and free exercise in 1955. The two gymnasts maintained a positive relationship and kept their focus on bringing prizes back to Alpena.
“We were good friends, we still are. Every time I see him, we come up and give each other a big hug. We came back, the first time, with all of the trophies. Everything in the state of Michigan.”
Donald found his passion for gymnastics in the fifth grade and saw his talents blossom from there. After high school, Deadman was able to use his gymnastic skills in the Army. He ranked first among “thousands of soldiers” in every PT exercise except for running. He was able to use the skills he learned as a gymnast to dominate the PT course. Corporal Deadman was stationed in Berlin in 1961 and was on the front lines of the Berlin Crisis that year.
Deadman continued gymnastics while abroad and met his wife through the sport. The two are still married today and have two children. Donald also has a strong interest in coaching gymnastics to this day. He almost began coaching the high school program when he returned from abroad, but was in the process of opening a music shop. Deadman plans to return to coaching in the winter of 2019-2020.
“I’m looking forward to this next winter because I want to get in and help these people. I know I can add to this,” said Deadman. He’s interested in helping the growing AAU Alpena Gymnastics team that sent 7 gymnasts to nationals in 2018. He can even see himself restarting Alpena High School’s gymnastics program.
Outside of the gym, Deadman has a passion for scuba diving, skiing, and sport shooting. He is an active member of the Alpena Sportmen’s Club and is among the top five shooters at the club. He gives the top guns a run for their money every now and again as well. “Once and a while would beat the number one person or beat the second one. I was second place at one time, but I never was the top gun.”
Deadman’s willingness to help those in the gym, offer veteran advice to young gymnasts, and show off his skills at the range are just a few of the many ways he’s stayed involved in Alpena. He’s also discovered five shipwrecks while scuba diving that NOAA hadn’t found. The organization has now marked two of them for further investigation.