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“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” ~Thomas Campbell

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“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” ~Thomas Campbell

Arvo Robert Britten, 81, of Wausau passed away on Friday, November 10, 2017, after a battle with Alzheimer’s Disease.

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.

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  1. Bill F

    11/13/2017 at 8:41 am

    My sincere condolences to the family and friends, so sorry for your loss. Please find comfort in knowing that Jehovah God will soon resurrect our dear loved ones (John 5:28-29). Oh how we long for the day when pain, suffering and death will be no more, these former things will have passed away (Revelation 21:3-5).

  2. Steve Heinrich

    11/13/2017 at 8:41 am

    Being a HS coach myself for over 30 years I can honestly say that there we not too many umpires better than Arvo Britten. True professional and always a class act. Wausau East Baseball will truly miss him as I am sure so many others will too! All I can say is WOW–what a life–so many successes in so many different areas. The entire community mourns. Rest in Peace Arvo!!

  3. Jay Wicke

    11/13/2017 at 8:41 am

    Arvo will be missed by all who were fortunate enough to have been coached by him. I consider him to be the best coach I ever played for. He demanded your best and recognized achievement. I also considered him to be a valuable friend. My sympathies good out to the Britten Family.
    Sincerely, Jay Wicke

  4. Sheryl Zomchek

    11/13/2017 at 8:41 am

    Nelda, Marc, Andrea, Dana, Carrie, Marie,
    I’m sorry for the loss of your dad/life partner. You are all in my thoughts and prayers. Arvo was one of my dad’s best friends and I have fond memories of watching them playing softball and hearing about their fishing/hunting trips, and of all their funny pranks done at the Jr. High. Arvo was kind to me and he had a wonderful sense of humor, I can still hear him and my dad teasing each other, my dad saying jokes about Arvo’s height and him joking about my dad being polish. Praying you feel God’s love, comfort and strength at this painful time.
    Sorry I can’t be there with you all to celebrate Arvo’s life.
    Sheryl Zomchek

  5. Mark Taylor

    11/13/2017 at 8:41 am

    Coach Britten had a huge influence on my life. His dedication to personal fitness, competitiveness, and respect for his team made a deep impression on me. I’ll always remember him as more than a coach, but as a standard for adult behavior.
    -Mark Taylor
    -Montour Falls, NY

  6. Kay Gruling

    11/13/2017 at 8:41 am

    Sincere condolences.
    I remember Mr Britten well from my school years. He was always smiling and energetic.
    Sorry for your loss.
    Kay Gruling
    MHS ’80

  7. Kris Krug

    11/13/2017 at 8:41 am

    Arvo was my mentor when i started teaching in Merrill 30 years ago. I think it was only 5 years teaching together but we remained friends over the years. He even made it to a Merrill Volleyball game last year. My condolences to his family. I won’t make the service but Arvo would understand since I’m traveling to the hunting shack.

  8. Lisa Britten

    11/13/2017 at 8:41 am

    Marc, Andrea, Dana, Carrie and Marie

    I am so sorry to hear of the passing of Uncle Arvo, I am glad I got to pick him up at the airport and spend time with him when he came to Indiana when dad had a surgery. We caught up like there was no years between the last time I had seen him as a kid. Know that I am thinking of you all. He left behind a great legacy by all that knew him..

    Always family

    Lisa Briten

  9. Renae Oestreich

    11/13/2017 at 8:41 am

    So sorry and saddened to hear of Mr Britten’s illness and passing. There wasnt a better PhyEd teacher for junior high age! His quick wit humor never failed. He inspired kids to play, learn, have good sportsmanship. His positive attitude was contagious, his encouragement motivational. He was truly an inspiration to many.

  10. Nancy Prigge

    11/13/2017 at 8:41 am

    Dear Nelda, I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m sending hugs and prayers. Take care.
    Nancy Prigge

  11. Bob Skubal

    11/13/2017 at 8:41 am

    So sad to hear about the passing of Arvo. I have had the honor to know him for 40 plus years. Enjoyed talking sports with him and was extremely thankful for the time he gave to the sport of wrestling. He was an amazing man who gave much to others and will be missed.
    Rest in peace my friend.

  12. Mike Nelson

    11/13/2017 at 8:41 am

    One of the best coaches you will ever come across!! Taught you both game skills and life lessons. Got to know him when I became an adult and found him to be an equally great guy!! Will be missed!! Mike Nelson

  13. Melissa ( Schneider) Laporte

    11/13/2017 at 8:41 am

    Very sorry for your loss and I wish I could be there for the service to pay my respects. I will always remember with such fond memories. Thoughts and prayers.

  14. Joshua Crass

    11/13/2017 at 8:41 am

    I’ve known Arvo since I was about 8 years old (25 years) he officiated many many matches I was in or at and he was always smiling and teaching those around him… the sport of wrestling lost a great ambassador and better friend

    Sorry for your loss
    Josh Crass

  15. Dan Rajek

    11/13/2017 at 8:41 am

    Arvo was my coach,my mentor,my friend. It was my pleasure to have known him. He will be missed by everyone he touched.