Ralph Emory Dennis, 97, of Olathe, Kansas passed away on November 6, 2023, at Aberdeen Village in Olathe.
He was born on September 6, 1926, to Emory and Ethel (Brandenburg) Dennis in Parsons, Kansas.
On August 8, 1948, he married Elizabeth "Betty" Roche, and they made their home in Olathe, Kansas, where he was a resident for the next 75 years.
After growing up in Parsons, Kansas, Ralph enrolled at Labette County Community College where he played basketball and after graduation enrolled at the Kansas State Teachers College in Pittsburgh, Kansas (now Pittsburgh State University) to pursue his dream of becoming an educator.
As an educator and coach for over four decades (43 years), “Mr. D” helped shape and had a considerable influence and positive impact on the community of Olathe and its citizens. Ralph witnessed and had a beneficial effect on many people in Olathe during historic events in our country including the Civil Rights Integration & Equality movements of the 40’s, 50’s & 60’s. His mindset of God and Jesus first, others second and himself third was based on love, community and inclusion and was prominent in his life until the day he passed.
In addition to teaching social studies, including Civics, Psychology, Current History and Driver’s Education, he coached football, basketball, tennis and was Director of Athletics. Other extracurricular involvement included senior class sponsor, Kansas Association for Youth, and Future Teachers of America. He taught adult education classes and served as a Boy Scout counselor. Ralph organized and directed the Olathe Recreation Program from 1956 until 1969. Ralph’s good humor and service earned him many public honors such as Emporia State University Master Teacher, Kansas State High School Activities Association Hall of Fame, Olathe Public Schools Wall of Honor, Labette Community College Cardinal Citation Award, Olathe Community Pride Award, and Olathe Citizen of the Year, “Mr. Olathe.”
Ralph enjoyed watching and discussing all sports, including high school, college, and professional. One of his favorite pastimes was working the “Jumble” and Crossword puzzles which always became a group effort with his children. Most of all he enjoyed visiting with everyone. He loved everyone and everyone loved him. He enjoyed gifting pocket angels and coins with a cross to his many friends, even strangers.
Ralph was a faithful member of Grace United Methodist Church since 1950. He taught Sunday school for 31 years and served as an usher for 62 years.
Ralph is survived by his loving family.
Children: Daniel Michael Dennis (Pamela Robbins Dennis), Suzanne Elizabeth Leach, Jane Frances Clark (Rod Clark) and David William Dennis (Maura Toland Dennis).
Grandchildren: Molly Beth Dennis Eiche (Jason Peter Eiche), Lisa Nicole Petermann, Jeffrey Wayne Clark (Laura Ruth Clark), Carrie Elizabeth Carpenter (Cory Sean Carpenter), Zachary Dennis Clark (Kelly Clark) and Liam Patrick Toland
Great Grandchildren: Luke Daniel Eiche, Lilly Beth Eiche, Lola Adeline Eiche, Nashton Andrew Petermann, Beckett Cole Petermann, Adler Belle Petermann, Noeland Thomas Clark, Niles Emory Clark, Jerzey Ann Clark, Mya Nolen, Quincy Nolen, Kanton Ford Carpenter, and Delilah Joy Toland.
He was preceded in death by his parents, his wife, Elizabeth Eileen Dennis (Roche), his brother, Victor Dennis, sister, Alma Ruth Lakin, and a son in law Clifford “Dean” Leach.
(In lieu of flowers) Memorials are suggested to the Ralph Dennis scholarship fund c/o Olathe Public Schools Foundation, Grace United Methodist Church, Aberdeen Village or Ascend Hospice.
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