Dennis (Denny) Wackerly, Professor Emeritus, Department of Statistics at the University of Florida, passed away on Sunday, April 21, 2019, in Gainesville, FL while under the care of Haven Hospice. He was 73.
Denny was born on September 29, 1945, in Canton, Ohio to Donald and Mildred Wackerly. After working several industrial jobs in his youth, he turned his focus to education, which ended up becoming his passion and career. Denny met the love of his life and his wife of 52 years, Joan Shepler, at the University of Dayton in 1965, on his way to earning his Bachelor of Science in mathematics and computer science in 1967. A Master’s degree in statistics (1969) and Ph.D. in statistics (1973) from Florida State University followed, leading to an Assistant Professor position at the University of Florida in 1973. He was named Associate Professor and granted tenure in 1977, then promoted to Professor in 1986. Denny also served as Associate Chair of the Department of Statistics from 1992 to 2000.
During his 35 years at the University of Florida, Denny was a renowned teacher of statistics. His teaching, mentoring and encouragement helped thousands of students throughout the years. Denny received the Teacher of the Year award from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in 1992. One of his favorite roles was serving as the Undergraduate Coordinator, helping to grow the undergraduate statistics major as an option for mathematically talented students. Denny was also the lead author on the four most recent editions of the highly regarded textbook, “Mathematical Statistics with Applications”, used by many universities across the U.S. and around the world.
Denny always made time to be a loving father, throwing batting practice and timing countless swim meets along the way. He was an avid golfer, and enjoyed traveling whenever he could. Despite his FSU education, Denny was a passionate fan of the Florida Gators and often enjoyed going to football, basketball and baseball games with his friends and family.
Denny was preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by his wife, Joan, and two sons, David (Lynn) and Daniel (Kim). He also leaves behind his beloved granddaughter, Lauren.
A Visitation for Dr. Wackerly will be Sunday, April 28, 2019 from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm at Milam Funeral Home in Gainesville. A Graveside Service will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, April 29,2019 at Evergreen Cemetery, 401 SE 21st Avenue Gainesville.