Just seems like as a person gets older the first page one turns to is the obits.
Some I suppose are expected, often blessings in disguise, but recent deaths of Sonny Gratzer and Dan Gallagher followed this week by the passing of former University of Montana President George Dennison certainly have caused pause and they hit close to home.
Now granted in my business in the state since the 80s my spectrum is pretty large.
The golden years for George Dennison didn’t turn out to be that lengthy.
The longest tenure president in the UM history, Dennison was the fourth president I had the opportunity to work with since I made my way to the Missoula campus
Neil Bucklew occupied the top chair then serving as the school’s 14th mentor being named to the position when he was just 40 in 1981.
It was the first presidency for Bucklew who previously moved from the Provost position at Ohio University in Athens. After his initial presidency at Montana, Bucklew assumed the top job at West Virginia University, a position he held until retiring in 1995.
Enter Jim Koch from Ball State in Muncie, Ind. who held the UM president’s position until 1990 when he moved to Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virg.
Jim, a baseball stats nut had a teaching avocation and handled classes while occupying most presidencies returning to Missoula some years ago and teaching occasional classes.
But when George was hired from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo it was a homecoming.
Growing up in Kalispell and a Flathead High grad, Dennison married Jane Schroeder who has been at his side since 1954.
One of their sons, Rick, is the Denver Bronco offensive coordinator.
Ever a history buff, George obtained UM under-grad and graduate degrees before receiving his doctorate at the University of Washington.
He always expressed pride at serving as president of his Alma Mater and he spoke for years about his passion of writing the history of the Missoula school. He was working on the book when he died.
Known for a bevy of structural changes to the campus he also saw UM’s endowment grow seven fold from 17.3 million and enrollment increase by about a third.
A celebration of his life will be held in May.