Our Dad, Dennis Hein, passed away on Monday, April 3, 2023. He died quickly, a heart attack in the middle of the night. And although traumatic for our mom, Dad never regained consciousness. He died lying next to his wife of 55 years, where he felt nothing but love.
Dad was an optimist; he was funny and smart and kind and loving, and at times, a bit dirty. Dad never knew a stranger but was the very happiest when surrounded by those he loved, and especially the one he loved the absolute most; our mom, Nancy. And she loved him right back. Dad both loved fiercely and was fiercely loved.
Mom and Dad met in Yakima when they were 15 years old, married in 1967 at 21, had a baby at 25, and another at 28. Although Dad was good at A LOT of things – an accomplished businessman, a kind manager, and a gifted leader --Dad was truly phenomenal at being a husband, father, and grandfather. Saying that Dad was proud of his family is akin to saying that the sun gives off a little heat.
Having graduated from EWU in 1968, he was a lifelong Eastern Eagle, but he also loved the Seahawks, Cougs, Mariners, and especially Gonzaga basketball. He taught us how to watch sports reclined in an easy chair with our eyes closed. But, like the dad he was, the sports he loved the most were whatever his kids or grandkids were playing.
Our family lived in Spokane for most of Dad’s working life, where he was the Director of Solid Waste Management for the City of Spokane. But, upon retirement, Mom and Dad settled on the Long Beach Peninsula, where, in addition to making lifelong friends, he volunteered with the Coast Guard Auxiliary, becoming the Coast Guard Auxiliary Commander. Retiring to the “sand bar” where he vacationed his entire life was the ultimate reward for a life well lived.
You couldn’t talk about Dad without mentioning a few things. He loved his birds, and his dogs, and the water. And he loved his partners in crime. His Aunt Jan and Uncle Rich were so much more than his aunt and uncle. They were truly our parent’s lifelong sidekicks. Much trouble was had when those four were traveling the world! And you could see true enjoyment when our parents were at the beach with John and Diane. Thank you to all four of you for everything. You were so important to him, and you still are to all of us.
Boating trips with Randy & Deleda (his only brother and Sister-in-law) were a constant source of joy (and tall tales). Randy stepped up as Dad got older and made it possible for him and Mom to continue their tradition of boating in the San Juans for many years.
Dad is also survived by Nancy’s sisters and their families whom he truly thought of as his own. Pam and Stan Martinkus, Susan Sutton, and his nieces and nephews. There was never a time when it was Mom’s side or his side – they were all just family.
We’re so thankful for the love Dad so generously gave to his son-in-law, Deena’s husband, Josh. Dad was an excellent confidant because he’d start every answer with “well, let me tell you what not to do,” and then describe how he learned the hard way. No judgement, just support. We’re also so thankful his grandkids are all old enough to carry a little bit of their grandfather with them; Leela (23), Olivia (20), Eli (18), Cooper (18), and Lauren (15). We’re sure those sentiments are shared by all who knew him– carry a few memories of Dennis and your load will be lighter.
We love you Dad. May your rest be peaceful. Thank you for showing us a life well loved.
Please join us for a celebration of life, Thursday, April 13th at 1:00 pm in Yakima at the Arboretum. Address: 1401 Arboretum Dr. Yakima, WA 98901