Dennis (Denny) Oliver
Dennis died at his home in Halfway, Oregon on Monday, July 6, 2020 with his wife by his side. A celebration of Dennis’s life and family gathering will take place at a later date.
Dennis was born July 23, 1940 in Halfway, Oregon. He was the second son of Bill and Edwardine Oliver. He was born on the original Oliver Ranch which was established in 1880 by his great grandfather, Charlie Oliver.
Dennis spent the first 15 years of his life growing up on this 160 acre piece of prime farm ground. It was a typical farm, with all the hard work and hardships of the 1940’s. Dennis saw it all as a happy child, seeing the bright side of it all – a trait that stayed with him all of his life.
Dennis attended elementary school in Halfway and was a good student in the classes he liked. It was in those early educational years that Dennis learned that you do not force people to learn and you respect the individual differences in people. He maintained this philosophy for the 30 years that he taught school. Dennis always enjoyed sports, competing in most all from elementary school through college. He graduated from Pine Valley High School in 1958 and was named Athlete of the Year.
He attended Eastern Oregon State College for four years, playing football both ways as offensive and defensive linebacker. Dennis worked for Idaho Power, playing football, while attending E.O.S.C. earning a Bachelor’s degree in Science and Math. Following graduation he got a job with the State and then decided to returned to college, earning his degree in secondary education with a double major in science and social science. He later finished a Master of Arts in teaching from Lewis and Clark College - 1978
The day after graduation in 1965, Dennis married Elaine Bieswenger. They both had job offers in Ketchikan, Alaska teaching in the High School. They taught there for 4 years. While in Alaska they had two children, Shannon, born in 1967 and Matt in 1969. Dennis taught and coached cross-country track, basketball and started the wrestling program. Along with his teaching and coaching, Dennis was a commercial fisherman, owning 3 boats. He loved being a fisherman and had many stories of those times.
In the early 1970’s, Dennis moved his family back to Oregon where he began selling insurance for Mutual of Omaha. He has many plaques he accumulated during this period of time as Top Insurance Man of the Year.
In 1973, a teaching job became available at the high school in Halfway. Dennis took the job and taught the next 25 years for Pine-Eagle High School. He always said, “They had the greatest kids to work with as well as an excellent staff”!
After a divorce, Dennis married Janet(Jan) Hank in 1980, combining a family of 4 kids, Tim, Bill, Shannon and Matt. During those high school years Dennis taught, coached football and girls’ basketball. He coached his girls to win the 1984 Oregon Class A girls’ basketball championship with a 53-48 triumph over Sherman County in the Pendleton Armory. Coaching his niece, Liz Gulick and daughter, Shannon Oliver to a state championship, was an experience he was to always remember.
Married for 40 years, Denny and Jan had a great life together. In the Early years, there were Forest Service trail clearing jobs in the summer, horseback camping, deer and elk hunting trips, boating and fishing on the river.
Dennis loved and lived life to the fullest. Family meant a lot to him. He was a man of few words. His granddaughter, Jamie, said of him: “Actions speak louder than words” and he was a wonderful grandpa hunting, fishing, boating and snowmobiling, enjoying the moments with kids, grandkids and friends.
He was a lifelong member of the Panhandle Snowmobile Club and spent many years organizing the Annual Poker Run. Dennis was on the Board of Directors for the Pine Valley Cemetery.
Survivors include his wife of 40 years, Jan Oliver, of Halfway; children, Matt (Annette) Oliver of Yamhill ,OR, Shannon(Joe) Oliver Kennedy, Albuquerque, NM, Tim (Kris) Hank, Phoenix, AZ, Bill (Karen) Hank, Elko, NV Grandkids, Matty Oliver, Theresa Oliver Kennedy, Rachael Oliver Kennedy, Jamie (Jordan) Hank Finfrock, Timothy Hank, Tabor Hank, Charlotte Hank; Brothers: Bill (Susan) Oliver, Kodiak, Alaska, Charlie (Linda) Oliver, Denver, CO; Sister: Frances (Terry) Gulick Vaughn; and many nieces and nephew.
He was preceded in death by his parents and baby sister.
Memorial Contributions may be made to the Pine Valley Cemetery or Panhandle Snowmobile Club through Tami’s Pine Valley Funeral Home and Cremation Services, P.O. Box 543 Halfway, OR 97834. Online condolences may be shared at www.tamispinevalleyfuneralhome.com
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