Official Obituary of

Dean A. Ketelsen

December 16, 1953 ~ August 9, 2023 (age 69) 69 Years Old

Dean A. Ketelsen Obituary

Dean Alva Ketelsen, age 69, of Tucson, Arizona and St. Charles, Illinois passed away suddenly while mowing at his cottage in St. Charles.  No formal funeral services are planned, but a casual "Celebration of Life" open house luncheon will be held Sunday, August 20, 2023 from 12:00 – 3:00 pm at Grand Mound Community Center, 510 Smith Street, Grand Mound, Iowa.  All friends and relatives are invited to attend.  The family is also planning a gathering in Tucson, Arizona with a date to be determined.

Dean, son of Alva and Janice (Brandenburg) Ketelsen was born December 16, 1953, in Clinton, Iowa.  He graduated from Calamus High School in 1972 and from the University of Iowa in 1976, with a Physics and Astronomy major.  He married Vicki Quave on May 6, 1990.  She preceded him in death in 2003.  He married Melinda Johnson on June 7, 2008.  She preceded him in death in 2016.  They were both the light of his life! 

Dean was interested in astronomy from an early age.  He received a telescope for Christmas in 7th grade, and never stopped looking at the sky!  The dark skies of Arizona led him, first to Kitt Peak National Observatory, where he set up telescopes for astronomers, and then to The Steward Mirror Lab at the University of Arizona, making 8-meter mirrors for giant telescopes around the world.  Dean was a dedicated amateur astronomer and loved to photograph the night sky, and to show others the beauty of the heavens through his telescopes. 

He was also an accomplished photographer of both sky and of nature.  He especially loved his cottage in St. Charles, which had been Melinda's home.  It is right along the Fox River and gave ample opportunity for pictures of flora and fauna. 

Dean was actively involved in the Fox Valley Astronomical Society, the Northwest Suburban Astronomers, and the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association.  He actually started the Grand Canyon Star Party when he set up his huge pair of WWII-era binoculars for visitors of the canyon to look through while on his honeymoon with Vicki.  It is now a huge event in its 33rd year with many astronomers attending to set up their viewing equipment, and hundreds of people attending. Dean was in charge of the Star Party until 2010, but never had missed a single one. 

Dean was well known around the country and knowledgeable in so many things. He loved family gatherings, the Chicago Cubs, RAGBRAI (which he rode in for many years and later drove support vehicle), photography and anything astronomy related. 

He is survived by his siblings Kathy (Richard) Kreinbring of Bennett, Iowa, Brian Ketelsen of Grand Mound, Iowa, Linda (Lauren) Story of Morrison, Illinois, Jim (Karen) Ketelsen of DeWitt, Iowa, and Sheri (Tim) Meyer of Madison, Alabama; his stepmom Diane Ketelsen of Charlotte, Iowa; stepsisters Julie (Dave) Schoettmer, Joy (Allan) Soenksen, and Jana (Kevin) Behr; sisters-in-law Maj, Susan, and Donna; and many beloved nieces and nephews and a host of friends around the country that were just like family to him. 

He was preceded in death by his parents.

Arrangements handled by the Malone Funeral Home in Geneva.  For information 630-232-8233 or

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