Daniel Henry Denke, age 73

Daniel H. Denke

Daniel Henry Denke, age 73, of Aurora, Colo., peacefully entered into heavenly rest Dec. 30, 2016.

Dan was born Feb. 12, 1943, to Elizabeth and Henry A. Denke in Wall, S.D., the fourth of four children. He was raised on the family farm where he learned the value of a hard day’s work. He graduated from Wall High School in 1961. Following graduation, Dan worked as a lineman for Kainz Construction in Custer, S.D., and helped electrify still powerless portions of South Dakota and Nebraska.

He was drafted into the United States Army in 1966 in the midst of the Vietnam Conflict. He was a member of the 1st Battalion, 6th United States Infantry, 198th Light Infantry Brigade. Dan was critically wounded in battle in February 1968. The physical and emotional scars of his injuries would impact him for the remainder of his life. He was a recipient of the prestigious Purple Heart for injuries sustained in combat.
He underwent a year of rehabilitation at Fitzsimons Army Medical Center in Aurora, Colo., following his injuries. He eventually settled in Aurora. It is also where he met his future wife, Linda Kemp. They were married Sept. 26, 1970. To this union were born three children: Eric (Leslie) of Henderson, Colo.; Kevin (Malisa) of Thornton, Colo.; and Kristi (Zachary) Taylor, of Greeley, Colo.

Despite his war injuries, which left him permanently disabled, Dan was determined to support his family by earning an honest day’s living. He went into the iron fabrication business and worked for Metal Craft Welding, then Springs Fabrication, and later Western Steel and Boiler Co. Despite different business names and ownership, Dan worked in the same location for 37 years, rarely missing a day of work.

Dan’s quiet but strong Lutheran faith and his family were his highest priorities. His ingenuity and craftsmanship allowed him to renovate and expand the home he and Linda shared for more than 30 years. Despite venturing far from the small South Dakota town where he grew up (and its free ice water, which always made him immensely proud), he never lost his small-town roots. He would take time to visit with his neighbors, help them with their homes and lawns and even share the fruits of his labor from his backyard garden.

Following his retirement, Dan enjoyed the opportunity to reconnect with many of the men he served with so bravely during Vietnam and doted on his many grandchildren. As his health deteriorated, he returned to the former Fitzsimons Army Medical Center campus as a resident at the state’s veterans community living center. There, he was able to charm staff with his dry, sarcastic wit and follow the ups and downs of the Denver Broncos.

Dan is survived by his wife of 46 years; his three children; eight grandchildren, Kendall, Brooklyn, Tierney, John, Liam, William Henry, Declan and Wyatt; a sister, Christina (Julius) Eisenbraun of Rapid City, S.D.; and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents; and sisters, Alice (Wesley) Dewey and Adella (Harold) Sorenson.
Interment with military honors will take place at 11:15 a.m., Friday, Jan. 13, at Fort Logan National Cemetery, Staging Area “C,” 4400 W. Kenyon Ave., Denver, CO 80236. A memorial service will follow at 1:30 p.m., the same day, at Mount Olive Lutheran Church, 11453 E. Wesley Ave., Aurora, CO, 80014. 

Memorial contributions may be made to the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Chapter #375, 3710 E. 30th Ave., Denver, CO, 80205.

The Pioneer Review

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