It is with profound sadness that the Nord family announces the passing of Dennis on November 29, 2023 at the Riverview Health Centre.
Dennis was predeceased by his parents Edna & Eric Nord and his sister Patricia.
Dennis will be lovingly remembered by Patty, his high school sweetheart and wife of 54 years. He will be sadly missed by his daughters Christie Mork (Geoff), Lana Gilbert (Adam), and son Dan (Crystal).
His grandchildren Madison & Eric Mork and Annie Gilbert will miss their “Poppy” very much.
Also left to mourn are his brother and sister- in- law Jim & Dianne Harley, his sister and brother- in- law Beth & Howard Lewis. Nieces Brooke Harley and Marlene Villeneuve. Nephews Blake Harley, Jordan & Benjamin Lewis, Michael, Blake and Bradley Perry, and Paul Edry. Also remembered by so many wonderful friends.
How do you even begin to honor such an extraordinary man who meant so much to so many people during his lifetime. Dennis had a remarkable ability to make a lasting genuine connection with anyone and everyone he met - whether you were a student, player, parent, colleague, teammate, or friend. He made you feel like you were capable of anything you set your mind to and that endeared him to all.
Dennis had the best outlook on life emanating from his positive, energetic and vibrant personality. Dennis was his authentic self in every situation often catching you off guard with his truthful statements, observations, or hilarious one-liners. His charm, warmth, and wit quickly won over all he met. He loved people and it showed – they loved him back. He brought out the best in people in his own magical way.
Dennis had a very youthful and playful attitude. Boy did he like to play, and boy was he talented. His dad Eric taught him to play baseball and golf at an early age in the Wildwood area. Dennis was a very successful baseball player, eventually leading the St Vital Flocking Ducks to the National softball championship in 1975. Dennis made numerous friends golfing at the Old Southwood, St. Boniface, and Niakwa. He left lasting memories of his “soft hands”, clutch putts, and world class storytelling.
Dennis founded the Winnipeg Jest Hockey Club in 1984 so he could finally play hockey with hand picked good players. What started out as an old timers team turned into lifelong friendships. The Jesters had numerous escapades including 4 European tours creating endless hilarious memories.
Dennis was the Manitoba Snooker Champion in 1977, and later joined his son Dan to represent Manitoba in the World 8-Ball Championships in Las Vegas.
The Self proclaimed, “Canada’s Own Mr Fishing”, loved catching the early bite at Lake of the Woods with his family, and adventures at Wiley Bay with Don Poustie, Brent Lobson, and George Archibald. Later he discovered Crow Duck Lake where he organized annual summer trips with friends Clancy, Phil, George, Tim, Melly, Mike Burchuk, Walt, Sam, Grover, Ufer, his son Dan & Friends. Dennis made sure to change up the boat mates daily which led to the blossoming of so many great friendships.
Dennis had a love for Trivia. Within the first 2 seconds of any song, he could tell you the song title, artist, lead singer and their horoscope. He went on to win endless radio contests, get calls in the middle of the night from friends debating who sang a certain song, and eventually went on to win the Canadian National Trivia championships with friends and teammates Jim Partridge, Bill Noyes, and Gord Kruk. In more recent years he was happy to beat his son Dan and granddaughter Madison at jeopardy. Always claiming we were allowed to watch the earlier show to stay competitive.
Dennis’s true love and gift to athletics came by means of Volleyball as a player, coach and board member. Dennis was the captain of the first 2 Provincial High School Championships for his beloved Vincent Massey Trojans. Dennis captained the Winnipeg Wesmen to their first two National Volleyball Championships. He then coached the Wesmen to 4 straight CIAU titles. He played as an outside hitter and back up setter for Team Canada and went on to coach Team Canada with Bill Neville in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. Dennis was the Chairman of Sport from 1995-1999 for the Pan American Games.
Dennis was inducted to the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame as an athlete/builder in 1996 and served for several years on the Sports Hall of Fame selection committee where he was dedicated to preserving and honouring our provinces greatest athletes. Dennis was also inducted into the Canada West Sport Hall of Fame as a member of the 1971-74 Wesmen. He was proud to be inducted into to the Order of The Buffalo Hunt in 1972 & 1977. Dennis loved the sport of Volleyball and the positive impact it had on his life and career. He is also a member of the Manitoba Volleyball Hall of Fame for all his accomplishments and tirelessly advocating for the sport of volleyball to be lifted to a higher stature, undoubtedly a major reason why volleyball remains a marquee sport in the province to this day.
Dennis’s legacy as a player and coach will live on in Manitoba for all the athletes and coaches involved in the game he loved so much. He has touched the many athletes, coaches and officials, with associations naming trophies in his honor. The Dennis Nord award is presented annually to the top High School Male Volleyball Player in the Province who also embodies leadership, sportsmanship, and academics. He would be very proud the award went to a Vincent Massey athlete this year who won the provincial title 60 years after Dennis won the first provincial title himself. Dennis is set to be inducted to the Wesmen Ring of Honour this year. His success as player and coach stemmed from his lust for life, his love to play, his ability to connect with others, and his love to lead by example under pressure.
Dennis did love to play, but he was also a world class leader. After Vincent Massey he graduated from the University of Winnipeg with an Arts Degree, the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of Education in Counselling, and his Masters degree in Education. He started his teaching career at Victor Major School as a gym teacher – the same school his daughter Lana got her first teaching job. Next, he was the counsellor at Dakota Collegiate. This is where Dennis first left his mark of helping so many students in need. He had a special way of connecting with all students even the “bad ass’s”. Dennis later went on to be a Vice-Principal at Minnetonka & Darwin and a Principal at Hastings. He was loved and admired by his staff who knew he always had their back and would be the MVP of every staff party.
As a principal Dennis had a special way of connecting with the pureness and playfulness of kids. He accepted everyone and saw the best in everyone when nobody else could – he gave them a chance when no one else would and believed in them until they learned to believe in themselves. Kids loved dad so much, they would follow him around all day prodding him to say something funny- Dennis always came through for the kids and liked to giggle just as much as they did. Dennis deeply loved having a positive impact and moulding the minds of kids to include humor, respect, empathy, playfulness and kindness. He was a smart, respected, and well-prepared administrator. He could be tough, but he was fair and nobody’s fool. He had an uncanny ability to diffuse the most complex situations, somehow magically reconciling divided parties to amicable agreements on many occasions. He had an innate ability to understand the hearts and minds of individuals & parents on different sides of the fence. As his Hastings colleagues so perfectly stated, “He led by example and set lofty goals, he helped shape the mind of many small souls. He articulated, regulated, and communicated with flair, he initiated and implemented with knowledge and care.”. Dennis brought his sense of humor, compassion, and empathy to all these roles, making life so much easier and fun for students and staff. He was not only a mentor to so many, but also a genuine friend as proven by his lifelong bond with so many ex-students.
In “Classic Dennis” fashion, he had several extravagant retirement parties. He retired in 2006 with 35 years of service to St Vital School Division. But he then took a role as Supervisor of Human Resources for the Louis Riel School Division. Once he retired from that role, he could not help himself but taking on the role of Student Services Teacher at Louis Riel Arts & Technology Centre. Once Dennis had his retirement party from Arts & Tech, he took on a role “just helping out” as the Vice Principal at Nelson Macintyre where he got to carry on his legacy of connecting with the summer school students. Once officially retired, Dennis spent his summer golfing with his pals and sitting on patios having laughs until closing time. He organized winter golf trips with his St. Boniface crew to Texas. Dad would never miss a breakfast with the Jolly Mug crew.
Dennis cherished his time volunteering for Cancer Care Manitoba. He would pick up patients and take them to their chemotherapy appointments. The ride would include gentle conversations and full out sing-alongs to his special mixed CDs. Dad deeply admired their strength going through treatment and always lent an open ear and tried to learn more about each of them.
Dad loved his last vacation to Maui, where he golfed, snorkelled, ate & drank with Mom, Dan & Crystal. But nothing compared to how much he loved his vacations to Phoenix with Pat. He loved the simplicity of visiting friends, sitting by the pool, waiting while Pat shopped and having nice quiet dinners with close friends. He wasn’t afraid to “wrap it up” and get to bed early much to the chagrin of those still eating their dessert. Dad loved his retirement and did it his way.
Dennis had so many accolades that often the one he is most proud of gets overlooked- his family. Dad carried over his playfulness and lust for life with his sweetheart Patty and 3 children Christie, Lana, and Dan. Dad was involved with coaching his daughter Lana to provincial soft ball titles. He also coached his son Dan for several years on the “travellers”, winning the provincial title in 1987. Dennis was always proud he could coach hockey without ever playing as a boy. Dennis coached his son Dan Volleyball for several years and his granddaughter Madison at Junior Bisons.
Dad knew the value of experiences proven by the family’s endless adventures. As young kids the summers were at Victoria Beach, teen years at Lake of The Woods so we could water ski, fish, and dive off the dock to start the day. Winters brought family ski trips filled with hilarious memories. From Frostfire to Aggassiz Lodge and Giants Ridge for family getaways. Who could forget the annual family trips to Minneapolis for volleyball camps. Dad loved visiting our dear friends in Minnesota & Wisconsin while always keeping it fun for the kids. Dad was special, smart, adorable, funny, engaging, caring, devoted to his family, and most of all made sure everyone had fun including himself. He played a huge role in shaping us to be positive, happy, to have kindness, to always enjoying playing, to be a leader, and to have fun along the way. His grandchildren were lucky enough to be part of his life and loved their time with Poppy. Whether hopping on a bus with Eric, coaching Madi, or teaching Annie the loopholes of baseball, Poppy played a huge role in their childhood.
He prepared us all for life in a special way where we could be our best but also not take anything too seriously. He could make you laugh when you felt like crying, smile when you thought there was nothing to smile about. Dad taught us about life, love and laughter. Dennis was a Husband, Father, Grandfather, Teacher and above all a cherished friend.
Dennis was larger than life to so many. We will move forward with kindness, humility, love, playfulness and humor. His spirit is carried on by Pat, his 3 children and 3 grandchildren. Dennis was his authentic self before anyone knew what that meant. He was always true to himself whether that was speaking his mind or catching you off guard with a zinger. This is what made him one of a kind and so unique. Last year as Dennis went through his journey with cancer he never once complained. He took it as a challenge to lighten the mood with every single person who cared for him by having a laugh and letting them know he would be ok.
We would like to thank all the well wishes we have received. They have been overwhelming and a tremendous source of comfort for our family. Special thanks to our wonderful friends who kept in contact with Dennis. Thank you to Dr. Terry Szajkowski and a special thank you to the warm, caring and wonderful staff in the palliative care unit at Riverview Health Centre.
To Honor Dennis’s memory, savor every day and live life to the fullest with enthusiasm and gratitude. Spend quality time with your family & friends, laughing loudly and often. Never stop being playful. Show unconditional kindness to all those who cross your path.
If friends so desire, donations may be made in memory of Dennis to the Riverview Health Centre (Palliative Care Unit), Cancer Care Manitoba specifically to research of Melanoma or to a charity of your own choice.
A Celebration of Life will be held in the spring of 2024. The date and location will be announced in the new year.
We will always love and miss you so very much Dad.
Where a beautiful soul has been, beautiful memories remain.
Love lives on forever in the heart.