Dennis Michael Walsh obituary

Dennis Michael Walsh Obituary

Elizabeth, Idaho, United States

October 27, 1938 - September 17, 2016

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Dennis Michael Walsh obituary

Dennis Michael Walsh Obituary

Oct 27, 1938 - Sep 17, 2016

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Dennis Michael WalshOctober 27, 1938 - September 17, 2016Dennis Michael Walsh, 77, of Pocatello, Idaho, passed away on September 17, 2016. In his home, in the company of his loving wife, Sharon Lynn Sieber, and several friends, he prepared to set out on his next journey - "climbing a hill, mountaineering, and a friend not seen since Uzbekistan," as he explained in fragments during his last days.Dennis was the firstborn child of Thomas Joseph Walsh and Orpha Elaine Laughlin. He was born on October 27, 1938 in Carrington, North Dakota. The family resettled in Willmar, Minnesota when Dennis was three; a sister and brother completed the family in the following years. Dennis spoke often and with pride of his Irish ancestors - of his grandfather, a blacksmith and U.S. Marshal; of his father, a grocer; and of his mother, Orpha, who fulfilled with grace the traditional role of mother and housewife, anchoring the family and maintaining the hearth.Always in search of adventure, Dennis Michael Walsh left the small town life of Willmar, Minnesota, joining the Navy at age 17. He spent many months at sea, eventually completing three years of military service. Upon finishing, he began his studies at Notre Dame University. Drawn to a multitude of ideas and possibilities, Dennis spent his first year in seminary studies at Notre Dame and then, shifting his path, he completed a Bachelor's degree in English at Notre Dame. The Peace Corps offered further adventure: Dennis spent the next two years teaching English, French and Latin in Liberia, establishing a relationship to the African continent and to its people that would re-emerge throughout his life. Dennis returned to the United States, completing a Master's degree in teaching at Harvard University on a full tuition scholarship. The call of foreign lands brought him to Turkey, where he taught English at Robert Academy for the next three years. Returning to the U.S., he earned a PhD in English at his Alma Mater, Notre Dame. He would devote the remainder of his professional life to learning, teaching, and activism. Dennis' teaching career resumed, taking him to Louisiana, Arizona, Kansas, and eventually, to a long career at Idaho State University. Dennis' presence and mission in Idaho was multifaceted. He was a devoted teacher, a kind and sustaining colleague with a lot of wit, and an activist for social justice. At Idaho State University and beyond, he reached many students, exhibiting and imparting to them his own love of knowledge, adventure, and justice. He loved words, delighting in the structure of language, the beauty of its renderings. He interspersed teaching in Idaho with a Fulbright year in Rwanda, an experience that brought together his many devotions. In his adopted community of Pocatello, Idaho, Dennis was a long-time member of the NAACP, the Police Advisory Board, and the Human Relations Advisory Committee.On the home front, Dennis was a devoted father to his two children. His granddaughter, Samantha Walsh, added only light and love to his days. Dennis was married during his twenties to his children's mother, Karen Ratwik, whom he met during his Peace Corps years. His second marriage to Mary Ellen Walsh spanned many of his years in the English department at ISU. Good fortune came to Dennis Walsh when he met his current wife, Sharon Lynn Sieber. Sharon was due to return from a Fulbright fellowship to Columbia when Dennis contacted her with an invitation to dinner upon her return. Sharon and Dennis were married for 11 years, creating a loving and nurturing home. They were devoted to each other, to their friends, and to their many, very much loved, fellow pet travelers (Cassie, Purcell, David, Phoebe, Lynie, McShane, Feeney, Chaco, Rosie, Danny, Rooney, Marty, and Felix - who arrived just in time...). He loved his garden, and took great pleasure in preparing meals abundant with vegetables and garlic. His other loves were the outdoors and sports; he loved fly-fishing with his friends, hiking, biking across the US and Europe, cross-country and downhill skiing, playing tennis and racquetball, mountain biking, and hiking and spending time with his dogs. He never missed a Notre Dame football game, and he was ever proud to be part of the fighting Irish.Dennis is remembered with love by his wife, family, and close friends for his kindness, compassion and profound understanding. His wife Sharon and his friends will miss his delightful sense of humor, and will miss spending days and nights with him. Dennis loved spending time with his friends - drinking Irish whiskey, going out to his favorite restaurants (The Sand Trap for dinner and First National Bar for lunch), discussing world history, politics, and current events. Dennis encountered the world both as an adventurer and a compassionate participant. His wonderful, remarkable, kind, and interesting presence will be missed by all who really knew who he was.Dennis is survived by his wife, Sharon Lynn Sieber, a sister, Michel Walsh (David Goldblatt), a brother, Mark Walsh, a daughter, Elizabeth Walsh (Willy Clark), a son, Jude Walsh (Megan), and a granddaughter whom he adored, Samantha Walsh. He is preceded in death by his parents, Thomas Joseph Walsh and Orpha Elaine Laughlin. His family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to PAWS in Pocatello or Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah.
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