Dennis was born in Eugene, Oregon and was raised in the country. After graduating from Elmira High School he joined the Army. While serving as a 1st. Lieutenant in Vietnam, he was decorated with Bronze and Silver Star Medals for Bravery.
Dennis retired after 27 years as a supervisor from the Eugene Water and Electric Board; he also owned several car wash businesses. Dennis married Sherry in 1980 and together they raised a daughter and two sons. Sailing was one of Dennis' greatest passions and every chance he'd get he wanted to spend it sailing the San Juan Islands. After Dennis retired, he and his father built a cabin on property he owned on Lopez Island. Dennis and Sherry lived on Lopez Island for 10 years, then returned home to Eugene. Dennis' five grandchildren always brought a smile to his face during every visit.