John Robert Dennis

April 22, 1922May 3, 2014

Dennis, John R.

Age 92, of Maple Grove, passed away Saturday, May 3, 2014.

Born in Minneapolis, MN of Ukrainian immigrants.

Preceded in death by beloved wife of 50 years, Ellen.

Survived by daughter Mary Harms (Fred); sons Nicholas (Pamela), Michael (Rebecca), David (Yupa); 10 grandchildren & 7 great grandchildren.

John was a talented local musician & educator. He studied violin under Harold Ayres, concertmaster of the Mpls Symphony Orchestra. He began instructing music at age 18 as a faculty member at Luther College. During WWII, on active duty JUN42-JAN46, he served as a medic with the 1263 Combat Engineer Brigade in the ETO. During his Army career, he played shows with Carmen Miranda, George Jessel, and Judy Garland. Post WWII, John founded the Mankato Symphony, being its first conductor. He taught music in the Bloomington Public Schools from 1961-1984, primarily strings at Kennedy Sr. High. John played professionally in the orchestra pit for various opera & theater productions, including traveling Broadway productions such as “Hello Dolly” starring Carol Channing. He was a member of the Ice Follies Orchestra for 23 years. As a member of the Zuhrah Shrine, John initiated and organized numerous concerts benefiting children injured by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. John enjoyed spending time with his family at Lake Vermilion. His music and life will be lovingly remembered.

Funeral Service: 3:30 PM, Fri, May 9 at Sunset Funeral Chapel, 2250 St. Anthony Blvd NE, Mpls. Visitation one hour prior.

Memorials preferred to the Unitarian Universalist Church of Minnetonka Music Program.


  • Visitation Friday, May 9, 2014
  • Funeral Service Friday, May 9, 2014

John Robert Dennis

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Mary Schwartzenberger

September 10, 2016

Mr Dennis was my favorite teacher at Riverside Elementary, Portland Junior High and John F Kennedy Sr High School. He went above and beyond for his students and cared for them. And, we cared deeply for him.

Leslie Sconduto

August 25, 2016

Mr. Dennis was my teacher for 6 years, at Portland Junior High and at Kennedy Senior High. Of all the teachers I have ever had, he had the most profound influence on my own career in education.

God bless you, Me. Dennis. I will never forget you or the life lessons you taught all of us in Orchestra.

May 11, 2014

Mr. Dennis was a wonderful Orchestra teacher at JF Kennedy Sr. High School. I have many fond memories of him. RIP Mr. Dennis and condolences to his family. Joyanne Knauf-Hamilton, Shageluk, Alaska

Sandy Hockenson Bakeberg

May 7, 2014

My deepest sympathy goes out to Mary and her family for the loss of their wonderful father, grandfather and great grandfather. He is with your mother in a better place and free of pain. He will be missed by many.

Ellen Coleman

May 7, 2014

Barbara Lokken

May 7, 2014

Mary and family, I am so sorry for your great loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you. May God be with you through this loss, bringing you comfort and hope in the life to come and may the memories of his life well lived bring you joy in your remembrance.