Thursday, January 25, 2018

70-year-old St. Pete pickleballer overcomes adversity

Published January 24, 2018 -

ST. PETERSBURG – Speaking to Dean Refakes for the first time is like talking to an old friend.

The 70-year-old part-time St. Pete resident and Chicago native has the relaxed and upbeat demeanor of a favorite golfing buddy or dinner companion, as he happily recalls tales of his athletic exploits and his medical setbacks, both of which there are many. Refakes, known as “Clean Dean,” also intersperses his conversations with comments about his love of life and especially for his three daughters, whom he raised following a divorce and calls “the apples of his eye.”

That positive attitude has helped Dean overcome a litany of physical setbacks, from broken bones to balky knees and hips, to become a high-level baseball, basketball, tennis and now pickleball player, as well as a symbol for perseverance and determination for people of all ages.

“I’ve had a very nice life, and I try to enjoy it,” Refakes said shortly after winning a gold medal in pickleball at the 2017 Florida Senior Games in Clearwater in December. “My daughters are healthy, they graduated from college, and I’ve never had a problem with them. I’ve been blessed.”

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