David E. Rotan
June 12, 1937 – May 25, 2020
David Rotan, 82, of Rochester Hills passed away peacefully May 25, 2020, a sunbeam spilling in through the window as he departed this life.
He was born June 12, 1937, in Covington, Kentucky. He graduated from Miami University in Ohio, the first in his family to earn a college degree. After finding his footing in the world, he married his wife of 42 years, Jane, and started a family. They moved from Ohio to West Virginia to Michigan during his decades-long career as a sales manager with the Chevrolet division of General Motors.
His family was the love of his life.
He was an active man, who enjoyed golf and baseball. In his later years, he was a fixture in the neighborhood, walking his dog Barney every day. He enjoyed music, travel and reading. But, those are just the facts. What was he really like?
He was entertaining. Dave was known to spontaneously burst into song, often show tunes like “Singular Sensation” from A Chorus Line or “Maria” from West Side Story. He captivated his family with spontaneous, dramatic recitations of poems he’d memorized by heart such as “Casey at the Bat” and “The Raven.” His record collection defied categorization, ranging from disco to jazz to classical. He played the trumpet as a young man and loved Louis Armstrong. He was a great conversationalist – genial, warm and full of stories.
He was inquisitive. He read the newspaper daily and watched the news nightly. He was always ready to talk about politics or world affairs. He was a whiz at Jeopardy and was undefeated in years of Trivial Pursuit games against his family. When, during his retirement, his wife was diagnosed with cancer, he went back to school to earn a pharmaceutical technician degree so he could better understand the medical landscape in which they found themselves. He was a voracious reader, devouring everything from history books to steamy fiction.
He was caring. Dave spent hours in the greeting card aisle, searching for the perfect card to mark each occasion. He always included a sweet, handwritten note inside. He gave thoughtful gifts to celebrate each holiday, birthday and milestone. He wrote thank-yous for presents he received or even just to say he had enjoyed sharing your company. He kept his house stocked with everyone’s favorite treats. He ended every phone call with an “I love you” and every visit with a hug. When you pulled away from his house, there he’d be, waving goodbye from the doorway. He expected you to honk for the dog.
He was quirky. Every Sunday, he’d load Barney the poodle into his car and drive to McDonald’s to order breakfast sandwiches for both of them. Dave’s method of driving can only be described as insanity, a mix between pedal-to-the-metal tailgater and laissez-faire lane drifter. He lived by the adage “a place for everything and everything in its place.” The man knew how to load a dishwasher.
He was proud. His shirts were always freshly pressed and his hair neatly clipped. He insisted on maintaining his sizeable yard and clearing snow from his driveway, even after two hip replacements. He did his own taxes, paid off his home and put all three of his daughters through college.
Most of all, he was a dad. Each Sunday, he’d take his daughters to the library, the park and the pet store. He patiently drove his ballerina to rehearsals and recitals, coached soccer, went to countless horse shows, and taught his youngest to ride her bike by using Candy Corns as a motivational tool. Walks or bike rides along the “Green Forest” path sometimes included eating wild blackberries straight from the bush together. He was magic.
His life wasn’t perfect. He had flaws. He had regrets. He had disappointments. He experienced loss and grief. But, he never let any of it dim the twinkle in his eye or diminish his dedication to his family. His spirit was light, like the down of a dandelion drifting on the breeze when a wish is made.
Gazing at the starry sky the night Dave died, his teen grandson commented: “What a legend! He was the heart of this family. Now, a piece of his heart lives in each of us.”
Dave is survived by his daughters Jill (Tracy) Wagner, Leslie (Darrel) Ellis, Kate (John) Kellogg, his sister Jackie Hutchins and grandchildren Greta, Gabriel and Alair. He was preceded in death by his wife Jane Rotan, his brother Michael Rotan, his mother Alberta Rotan and his dad Jack Rotan.
A memorial service will be live streamed starting at 3 p.m. Saturday, May 30, 2020. It will be available to view at the link further down on this page, or by visiting, www.oneroomstreaming.com. You will then enter the following log in information:
Event ID: PixleyWestU
Memorial contributions may be made to The Ruth Ellis Center located at 77 Victor St., Highland Park, MI 48203. www.ruthelliscenter.org
Listen to some of the music Dave loved: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/7I5wEAf4M8Z1imPN33zgkp?si=ZB7V6I-nT8etNZpPnE3o4A
- Jane Rotan, Wife (deceased)
- Jill (Tracy) Wagner, Daughter
- Leslie (Darrel) Ellis, Daughter
- Kate (John) Kellogg, Daughter
- Alberta and Jack Rotan, Parents (deceased)
- Greta, Gabriel and Alair, Grandchildren
- Jackie Hutchins, Sister
- Michael Rotan, Brother (deceased)
- Ruth Ellis Center
Saturday, May 30, 2020
David E. Rotan
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June 7, 2020
Dave was a true gentleman. Whenever our kids brought him some goodies or we helped him clear the driveway, he always followed up with a phone call and a handwritten thank you in the mailbox the following day. Dave will be missed.
Holly and Ralph Markert
May 30, 2020
I remember when Leslie invited Darrell for Thanksgiving dinner at our house. Dave had not met Darrell and was a little bit surprised. He handled it all with dignity and smiles. We had a lovely Thanksgiving with all the trimmings and no stress. Leslie and our daughter have been friends since kindergarten so we have known Dave (and Jane) for a very long time. He was always a happy guy with a smile and a joke. We often saw him walking that big dog and we wondered how such a tall slim guy could manage him. He will be missed. Our sympathies to the girls and their families.
Lavise and Dan Ritchie
May 30, 2020
We met Dave, Jane, and their beautiful daughters 33 years ago when we moved into the neighborhood. Dave always had a smile, a wave, and a "how are you doing" whenever we saw him. The multitude of neighborhood kids loved hanging out in Dave and Jane's willow tree! Dave was kind and genuine, and we will truly miss seeing him and Barney in the backyard. Our sincere sympathies to Jill, Leslie, and Kate.
Karen and Glenn Campbell
May 30, 2020
We met Dave and family when we moved here 34 years ago. We raised our children together and they were always intertwined. Dave genuinely cared....always how our kids were as they grew and often displaying his dry sense of humor as we shared stories about our kids becoming adults.
We will miss him terribly as a friend and neighbor...feeling blessed that Dave, Jane, and family have been a part of our lives.
May 29, 2020
Worked with Dave in Columbus, Ohio in the early 70's. Dave was District Manager, I was Area Service Manger. We worked great together as a team, played golf and were good friends. In later years we also worked together in Chevrolet Central Office.
While in Columbus I recall telling Dave about a old family owned German meat market, Schmidt's. Dave loved going there and would load up... frequently:) I'm really sorry to know of his passing and know he is missed, may the Lord give his family and friends comfort. God Bless
Katherine Mikulski (maiden Skorupa)
May 28, 2020
Mr. Rotan, as I knew him growing up, was always a pleasure to talk to. His most admiral trait, I thought, was his perseverance. No matter what curveballs life threw at him he kept treading along. And yes, his lawn was immaculate. I was amazed at the many years he continued to take care of it.
We will forever miss your neighborly smile.
Along with myself and my family as well as my Mother and Father we send our sincere condolences to the family.
Jill, Bella, Melina and Gregor Pendegraft
May 28, 2020
Dave always supported my girls with girl scout cookie sales, nut sales or whatever else they had to do!! He was such a great man and will be truly missed. He always shared lots of stories and we loved learning about Dave. Deepest sympathy and lots of prayers sent your way.
May 27, 2020
We loved getting to know Dave as our neighbor - and always enjoyed seeing Dave and Barney on their walks! Our sincere condolences - thinking of you and praying for you.