February 2, 1946 –
Resident of Danville, CA
“Oh Lord it's hard to be humble
When you're perfect in every way
I can't wait to look in the mirror
Cause I get better looking each day
To know me is to love me
I must be a hell of a man
Oh Lord It's hard to be humble,
But I'm doing the best that I can”
Dennis was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the first born child and only son of Ellis and Ruth Hightow.
Even after the arrival of his two younger siblings, Dennis remained, “the king” and could do no wrong in the eyes of his parents; except perhaps for two occasions. The first, when he rolled up a band-aid, stuck it in his ear canal and had to be taken to the ER, and the second when he “poisoned” his best friend by tricking him into drinking shav, a Jewish drink made from spinach-like leaves called sour grass mixed with sour cream.
He attended college at the University of Maryland and finished his degree at the University of Baltimore.
While he didn’t love school, he loved to read, particularly books on American History. His favorite was Abraham Lincoln and he could recite both the Gettysburg Address and Lincoln’s second inaugural speech by heart. He served as a medic in the US Air Force Reserves during the Vietnam war; stationed at a Casualty Staging Unit where he helped care for wounded soldiers.
Dennis achieved much and had many jobs throughout his career but when asked, he always described himself as a “salesman”. In his early years he worked at Paper Mate, before opening and running his own advertising agency. He later worked in real estate and finally in banking. It is no surprise that Dennis exceled at his job as a loan consultant; he particularly loved helping clients realize their dreams of purchasing a first home, even if it meant finding “creative” solutions to cut through bureaucratic red tape. He said the keys to success were being honest, making your vocation your vacation, and always maintaining a good reputation.
After spending time in Florida and New York, Dennis settled in Danville, CA in 1989, where he met and married his devoted wife Pam. Dennis loved to golf, travel (favorites were trips to Europe with Pam and Las Vegas with his daughter, Lisa), and spend time eating good (sea)food and drinking good wine or tequila with his many friends. He was generous in spirit and practice; giving freely his time, money and kindness to others, joyously and without expectation of receiving anything in return. His favorite quote was “It is better to give than to receive” and he lived his life truly paying it forward.
Dennis (aka Papa) was so proud of his three children and seven grandchildren. There wasn’t a waiter, bartender or “Let it Ride” dealer that didn’t hear all about his daughter the doctor and his son the chef. Only Blaine followed him into the mortgage business and Papa loved to hear stories and give advice. Dennis particularly loved the rare but always memorable occasions when the entire family was together and even as his health was declining he was talking about planning that next vacation.
His kindness, charm and endless positivity will truly be missed by all those who were lucky enough to have known him. Dennis lived truly his life to the fullest, never dwelling on what-ifs or what could have been. He cherished each day and his happiness was genuine and often contagious. When asked what word best describes his life, Dennis said, “Blessed”, but, in truth, it was those of us who knew and loved him that were blessed.
Dennis is survived by his wife Pam, his three children; Lisa (Jennifer), Brad (Michelle), and Blaine (Holly), seven grandchildren; Hudson, Jacob, Duke, Caroline, Stella, Nathan and Jackson, and sisters; Carol and Fran. He was well loved by so many people and will be missed deeply.
In lieu of flowers, consider donations to:
Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center
PO Box 45339, San Francisco 94145
2400 Camino Ramon
San Ramon 93583
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