In Loving Memory of Dennis Laursen

June 2, 1946 – July 6, 2021
by his niece, Lori Bennett

A childhood in the mission field of India. Climbing tall walls and playing in the banyan trees. Antics that turned their mother’s hair white. Traveling on the Queen Mary. Sliding down her bannisters—much to their parents’ chagrin. Furlough in the States. First ice cream cones eaten from the bottom up. Unexpected messes. The look of surprise on the adults’ faces when they turned to find sugary sentiments dripping from each child’s elbows. Oh, the stories Mom told us of growing up with her much-loved older brother, Denny.

Yes. You heard that right. Not Dennis—like everyone in Keene, Texas, and the surrounding areas know him because of Laursen’s Car Care or his wrecker service—but, Denny to his sisters or Uncle Denny to all his nieces and nephews. Whatever you chose to call him, you could always call him “the real deal.”

ATHLETIC

In college, Denny joined the gymnastics team with his tomboy shadow and sidekick, VerDenne—affectionately nicknamed Charlie. If Denny could do it, Charlie could, too. The duo formed a strong bond during this time. VerDenne recalls: “There’s no stunt he wouldn’t try. Trampolines. Me flying through the air. You name it.” The joys of having a brother you trust!

A SKILLED MECHANIC

I always felt silly showing up at Uncle Denny’s station with car problems during my college years, living in Keene—not because he couldn’t help me, but because I knew he’d tease in good humor, asking me to “make that noise again.” Clicking, clanking, rattling, humming, whirring, whining, hissing, chugging, flapping, screeching, roaring, knocking, Uncle Denny understood all the important noises; and, more importantly, he knew how to fix them. Being nearly 1, 200 miles away from home, certain safety resided for me with Aunt Marsha and Uncle Denny at the corner of Old Betsy and Fourth Street.

AN OUTDOORSMAN

Boating. Jeeping. Water skiing. Snow skiing. Horseback riding. Fun made itself known for Uncle Denny in the outdoors—including on a motorcycle. Vroom! Vroom! I never actually took a ride with him on his bike—let’s get real, I’m not the adventuresome type—but some of my first photographs with Uncle Denny had me sitting on the back of the iron beast outside in his yard. (Hey! I can call it whatever I want. It was loud and scary for a little girl.)

A FAMILY MAN

Helping his mom and dad out after Grandpa suffered partial paralyzation from his strokes. Traveling across country, being present at family weddings, anniversaries, and milestone birthdays. Ashton, Mindy, and Kylar. His undeniable love for Aunt Marsha. Denny proved over and over again the importance of family.

On VerDenne’s 50th birthday, her husband, Dean, took her on an elaborate getaway, having planned a surprise birthday party the same weekend as their return. What Dean didn’t know, Denny had his own surprise. He had arranged with Lori ahead of time to fly into Florida, stay at Dean and VerDenne’s house, and show up at the front door after the party started as one of the guests. What pure joy and excitement—not just shocking VerDenne, but totally blindsiding Dean (in a good way, of course!) Surprise!!

Uncle Denny lived the dash well—you know, that expanse of living between when you draw your first breath and the moment your heart beats for the very last time. Denny chose to fill his piece of the world with infectious smiles, hearty hugs and handshakes, friendly conversations, and a genuinely attentive ear. No question. You mattered. Because of Uncle Denny’s faithfulness in all aspects of his life, those who knew him got a better glimpse of Jesus. What a gift!

Rest well now, Uncle Denny.

We’ll see you again soon.

Christ’s return is just around the corner!

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