Arvo was born in Durand, Wisconsin on September 10, 1936 to the late Robert and Lila (DeMarce) Britten. He graduated from Wausau High in 1955, where he played varsity football, basketball and baseball. He was captain of Wausau High’s 1955 state basketball team and played second base on the baseball team.
Arvo attended the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point and graduated in 1960 with a degree in Physical Education. During his years at the university, Arvo played football and baseball, eventually making wrestling his sport of choice for his last two years there. As a wrestler, he placed 2nd in the WSUC Conference Tournament (1959) and 2nd in the State AAU tournament (1960).
Arvo joined the United States Army in 1960 and served until 1963, during which time he was awarded the Good Conduct Medal as well as a badge for Sharpshooter in both rifle and carbine. During his time in the service he played for the baseball and softball team as catcher and was a member of the Southeast Asian championship team in 1962.
After leaving the Army, Arvo was hired by Merrill Public Schools as a junior high social studies instructor, later becoming a physical education instructor. Throughout his career, he coached football and track but found his greatest success in the wrestling program where he accumulated a record of 207-17-0, never losing more than two matches in any one season. He also found time to umpire baseball and softball and officiate wrestling matches, a dedication that would continue for over 50 years and result in him being inducted into the George Martin Wrestling Hall of Fame (1990) and given the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Award for Lifetime Contribution (2001) – the first wrestling official to ever be given this award. The many friendships he made supporting the sports he loved were an integral part of who he was.
In his spare time Arvo enjoyed hunting and fishing, especially his trips to Wyoming and Canada with friends who shared his enthusiasm for the outdoors. He loved tending to his rose bushes and proudly showed them off when given a chance. He loved to bake and cook as well as watch the Badgers and Packers. He passed along his love of fishing – teaching all of his grandchildren how to fish.
Arvo is survived by his life companion of the last 24 years, Nelda Hettinga; his children, Marc Britten of Woodbury, Minnesota, Andrea Britten (Stephen Mobley) of McLean, Virginia, Dana Britten of St. Paul, Minnesota, Carrie (Spiro) Avouris of Melbourne, Australia, and step-daughter Marie (Chris) Peterson of Merrill, Wisconsin. His grandchildren include Jordann Britten, Maxwell and Henry Mobley, Lila Avouris, a baby girl expected in February, and step-grandchildren Greta and Garik Peterson. He is also survived by his brother Martin (Cindy) Britten of Indiana.
A memorial service will take place at 5:30 pm on Friday, November 17, 2017 at Brainard Funeral Home- Wausau Chapel, 522 Adam Street, Wausau. Bill Metter will lead the celebration and offer stories of Arvo’s life. Visitation will take place from 3:00 pm until the time of the service.
The family also wishes to thank the staff at Garden Side Crossing for their compassionate care during his brief stay with them.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the charity of your choice in Arvo’s name.