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Dennis Ray Altstaetter was an educator

Born on June 18, 1943, Dennis Ray Altstaetter died of cancer on March 24, 2024 at the age of 80 in Three Links Care Center with Barb at his side.

Country kid. World traveler. Athlete, Father. Husband. Friend. Luddite. Champion and advocate for the underdog and disadvantaged. Compassionate. Coffee and beer drinker. Golfer. Crossword Puzzle enthusiast. Gardener. Early riser. Teller of irreverent jokes. Kind. Boundlessly creative. Facial hair wearer. Minnesota Twins watcher. Wickedly funny. Hard worker. Educator. Stubborn. Sometimes judgmental. Unconventional. A solid mix of Willie, Johnny, and Waylon.

With a lifelong career as an educator, Denny derived as much joy from the community and camaraderie of his colleagues as he did from working with young people. Denny’s coworkers were his friends. They were his golfing partners, his fishing buddies, his morning coffee confidants.

Denny lived his life with an innate draw to minimalism. There was no “fancy” in him or about him. He needed very little in the way of material things to be happy and eschewed most technology—both a delightful trait as well as a challenging quirk that made navigating life with him sometimes frustrating (No cell phone! No email!).

A wonderful storyteller in his own right, he never sought out attention. Although he had an enviable memory and endless interesting tales to tell, it was far more common to find him engrossed in a quiet conversation in the corner of the room, intently listening to and drawing out the stories of others.

Whether setting off on a bike ride across the country on an old, self-refurbished bicycle or hopping on a plane to live in foreign lands, Denny had a sense of adventure and an optimism and curiosity about the world and people that is hard to match.

Family was a strong thread in his life. Denny was born to Helen (Newlove) and Gilbert “Funny” Altstaetter in Northwest rural Ohio.  He had one older brother, Fred, who is deceased. He is survived by his wife,  Barbara (Eastman), his son and daughter-in law, Vince and Rachel Burton, his daughter, Heather, and his three grandchildren, Jackson, Elizabeth and Sawyer. He was immensely proud of his family and being a parent and grandparent was the highlight of his life. Other survivors include his sister-in-law, Judy Altstaetter, niece Colleen and nephews, Dave and Chad; brothers-in law, Cliff Eastman (Cheri), Rob Eastman (Silvia), Rich Eastman, and numerous other nieces and nephews.

We’re fortunate that Denny’s unique soul led a long and well-lived life and during those many years his goofy charisma charmed us all.

In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to the Community Action Center of Northfield, Allina Hospice in honor of nurses, Tom and Christina for their compassionate care of Denny and our entire family, or a charity of your choice.

A service to celebrate Denny’s life will be held at United Church of Christ, Northfield, on Saturday, May 11 at 11:00 a.m.  Denny loved bright colors; casual, cheerful, colorful clothing is welcome at his service.