Cover photo for David Ankley's Obituary
1937 David 2022

David Ankley

May 26, 1937 — August 9, 2022


David Lloyd Ankley, age 85, passed away on Tuesday August 9, 2022, at Oakwood Village in Madison, WI.

David was born on May 26, 1937, in Eau Claire, WI to Anne (Kohel) and Lloyd Ankley. He was always proud that he grew up on a farm, where he had to milk cows and do farm chores before heading to school.  David attended Sunnyside, a one-room school near Haugen, WI up until eighth grade.  In a tragic farm accident, his dad was killed by a bull just before Dave started high school.  As the oldest of three boys with a farm to run, a lot more responsibility landed on the then thirteen-year old’s shoulders.  After graduating from Rice Lake High School in 1955, Dave stayed home a year, hauling milk for an uncle in the mornings and doing farm chores in the afternoons and evenings, before beginning classes at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.  He played baseball during college just as he had in high school, batting left-handed.  David graduated in 1961 with a degree in Agriculture Education.

A certain young lady named Donna caught his bashful eye while in Rice Lake.  They eventually married on June 10, 1961, recently celebrating 61 years of marriage this past June.  After college David taught high school agriculture, driver’s ed and industrial arts classes at Suring and Wabeno in Northeast Wisconsin, from 1961 until 1965.  Three children joined their family during this time.

David started his 32-year UW-Extension career in Marinette County as the Farm Management Agent in 1965.  In 1968 he became Marinette County’s Agriculture Agent. After earning his master’s degree in 1970 from UW-Madison in Meat and Animal Science, he took on the Agriculture Agent and Office Chair responsibilities in the “central sands” of Portage County until his retirement in 1996.  His main priority was to help area farmers survive and thrive in a challenging and changing world, while being well versed in both cash cropping and dairy farming, which are two distinctly different types of farming.  David excelled at and loved his agriculture job, which he found to be very rewarding.

Dave was Portage County’s go-to guy for agriculture information during his tenure, hosting a weekly radio agriculture program and writing a weekly ag column for the local newspaper, as well as writing a popular lawn and garden column.  David also started the Portage County Forage Council, two-day potato seminar, beekeeper’s group, irrigation school, and spearheaded Portage County’s Master Gardener Program, in addition to being involved with 4-H and the annual county fair.  He was Executive Secretary of 1982’s Wisconsin Farm Progress Days hosted by Portage County, which was the highlight of his ag career.  This three-day agricultural exposition drew over 100,000 visitors and required over three years of planning.

David will also be remembered as an adventurer, organizing seven agricultural tours in Wisconsin, five ag tours around the United States and two to Europe.

During retirement David and Donna spent nineteen years as “snowbirds”, maintaining a winter home in Leesburg, FL and a summer home in Stevens Point, WI, before moving to the East side of Madison to be closer to their daughter’s family.  He enjoyed spending time with his family, especially his four grandchildren.  Dave was a phenomenal golfer, becoming club champion at WRCC and winning several other golf tournaments.  He even made three holes in one during his lifetime!  David also enjoyed traveling, fishing (with a couple trips to Canada), hunting (with two trips to Colorado), bowling, curling, pickleball, gardening, playing cards, and being a handyman-he could fix most anything. Throughout, Dave managed to be at once a realist and an optimist, never losing his sense of adventure and zest for life.  He was always quick with a friendly smile.

David is survived by his wife, Donna (Kokesh); son, Ron (Crystal) Ankley; daughter, Laurie (Jon) Otto; four grandchildren, Sierra Ankley, Logan Otto, Davis Otto, Madison Ankley; and numerous nieces and nephews.  He was preceded in death by his parents, his two brothers Jack Ankley and Harvey Ankley, and his oldest son Michael Ankley.

A celebration of life will be held at 11:00 AM on Saturday August 27, 2022, at The Tree of Life Chapel at Oakwood Village, 5565 Tancho Drive, Madison, WI, with Chaplain Wayne Shannon officiating.  A visitation will be held from 10:00 AM until the time of service, with a luncheon provided afterwards.

If desired, memorials can be made in David’s name to The Oakwood Foundation ( .

Cress Funeral & Cremation Service

3325 E Washington Ave, Madison

(608) 249-6666

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of David Ankley, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Starts at 11:00 am (Central time)

Oakwood East-Tree of Life Chapel

5565 Tancho Dr, Madison, WI 53718

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