Den sailed away to peaceful waters on August 23, 2015, but the wake he left will be felt for the rest of our lives.
He was born in 1937 to Alma and Alexander Gerlitz in Bismarck, North Dakota but lived, loved, and worked in the Seattle area from the time he was three-years-old. After graduating from the U. of W. with a degree in English Lit he became a Marine Captain and pilot. Flying on and off aircraft carriers was a favorite accomplishment.
He worked in the insurance industry for over 30 years, learning the business at Safeco Insurance but primarily as a Vice President for Great American/Ohio Casualty/Liberty Mutual. He loved his work but, more importantly, his co-workers, many of whom have remained life-long friends.
He was an avid skier and was on the ski patrol at Pilchuck and Crystal Mountain for years. If possible, he was a more avid sailor. Summers sailing on the Alma Lisetta (named after his mom) and winters on the slopes, fabulous trips all over the world and wading rivers with his fly-fishing pole kept him in perpetual motion. He loved music of all kinds from Opera to Blue Grass and became quite an accomplished banjo player. His only quiet time was spent in a theater seat (he didn’t miss a season at Ashland’s Shakespeare Festival for 40 years) or with his nose in a history book. His only regret was that he did not become a history professor.
He was generous to a fault—cooking for the homeless, endless fund-raising activities and his special passion of advocating for kids. He was a fabulous Little League Coach but hardly ever won a game because he always opted for the kids that were being left out.
His true love was for his family and if you were loved by Dennis, you knew you were loved. No one can attest to that unwavering-love more than his wife, Connie. His West Point graduate son, Kyle, popped his buttons but made him even happier when he married Ann and gave him three fabulous grandkids, Aaron, Alex, and Amanda. He bragged about his teacher-of the-year daughter, Gina, endlessly and even in his last confused days celebrated her promotion to an Assistant Principal position. His 50th birthday present was the “baby” of the group, Jordan. Jordan kept him young and was his constant protecting companion in these past couple of years. And no one could have asked for more loving care-givers during his final days of battling Lewy Body Syndrome than Gina and Ann.
Dennis was 17 when his “baby sister”, Jeanine was born. Changing your sister’s diapers creates a special bond that lasts a life time. Her husband Skip and their 4 girls, brother David and his wife Kathy and their 3 children, his sister Kathleen and her 4 children, and his adopted Thavongsack family will all miss his loving teasing. Niece Carrera will especially miss his cow kisses. The inconsolable member of the family, however, is Otto who continues to try to find him for a game of fetch.
Dennis was the most honorable, loving, funny, and intelligent person to grace our lives. Semper Fi our beloved. Keep your skis together and your bow into the wind.
A memorial service will be held at Overlake Golf & Country Club, 8000 NE 16th Street, Medina, WA, on Saturday, August 29, 2015 at 4 p.m.
Memorial contributions can be made to: Bellevue Schools Foundation at www.bellevueschoolsfoundation.org or PBS at www.kcts9.org