Dennis Wilson

Dennis Wilson

Sunday, November 18th, 1945 Saturday, March 21st, 2020

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Obituary for Dennis Wray Wilson

Dennis Wray Wilson, 74, of Lenexa, KS passed away on Saturday, March 21, 2020 at the Advent Health Shawnee Mission in Merriam, KS from the Covid-19 virus. Dennis was born November 18, 1945 in Fort Scott KS to Wray O and Dorothy E (Monroe) Wilson. He grew up on a farm west of Fort Scott and attended a one room country school for all 8 grades and had the same teacher all 8 years, a real rarity even in his day. He graduated from Fort Scott High School in 1963, joined the Army National Guard, and on return attended Fort Scott Community College. He went on to Kansas State College of Pittsburg, obtaining a bachelor’s degree in biology, and began teaching at Bonner Springs High School, Bonner Springs, KS in 1968. Soon after, in 1973, he obtained a master’s degree in biology from the University of Missouri in Kansas City. And then in 1981, he obtained a doctorate degree in school administration from the University of Kansas. Biology teacher turned high school principal turned school superintendent, he lead biology classrooms, high schools, and school districts to impressive accomplishments with great care, gentleness and kindness. He was known for helping teachers to become better in classroom management, not just for the students, but to make the teacher’s job easier. He enjoyed helping to improve science classrooms in all the grade schools as well as the high school. And, when there was a student in foster care who was struggling to get to graduate with her class, he had her come after school every day to the district office where he personally tutored her in areas of need until she was able to catch up. He was also active in the National Staff Development Council and served on the board of the Kansas Staff Development Council.
Dennis taught biology at Bonner Springs High School from 1968-1981. He was high school principal in Valley Falls KS from 1981-1984 and in Ottawa KS in 1984-85. His first superintendency was in LaCrosse KS from 1986-1996, then was superintendent in the Labette County School District from 1996-2008. He then was superintendent in Lamar MO from 2008-2013 retiring completely but returned to Labette County School District to serve as a member of the Board of Education until he moved out of the area in September 2018. He taught biology for Labette Community College from 2013 until 2019, and after moving to Lenexa he continued teaching it online. He also substitute taught in the Olathe School District.
Dennis and Joanna Wind were married on June 27, 1970. To this union two sons and a daughter was born. Dennis was an assistant Scoutmaster until his sons obtained their Eagle rank and served later in district Scout leadership. He also served on the board of Curious Minds Children’s Museum in Parsons KS.
About 25 years ago Dennis took up magic, a dream that he had for many years. He joined the International Brotherhood of Magicians in 1997 and became active in IBM 129 in Kansas City MO and was a dedicated student of the art, attending Ring 129 Workshops, Magifest in Columbus OH, Magic Live in Las Vegas NV and several magic cruises. Dennis performed at many birthday parties, fundraisers and entertained in many classrooms. He donated magic shows for the St Patrick’s Catholic School annual auction and for the Curious Minds Children’s Museum annual auction, both in Parsons KS. His life centered around the best interest of kids. Known by his grandchildren as “Poppy” he enjoyed holding Camp Bubbie and Poppy every year where for 3 days he and Joanna hiked, did nature activities, crafts, cooking and camped out in the back yard. He also loved photography. He and Joanna also played the role of Santa and Mrs. Claus in every community that he worked in.
He was a member of Kiwanis Club of Parsons, serving as Second Vice President, First Vice President and President. He currently belonged to the Johnson County Kiwanis Club. He did magic for the monthly Bringing Up Grades (BUG’s) program in which middle school age children are honored for their grades. He also did magic for the Kiwanis monthly birthday parties for clients at the Parsons State Hospital and Training Center.
He was a member of St Patrick Catholic Church in Parsons and most recently of Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Lenexa.
He was preceded in death by his father, Wray O. Wilson, his mother, Dorothy E. Wilson and his step-mother, June Wilson.
In September 2018 he moved to Lenexa KS to be closer to two of his three children and 5 of his 6 grandchildren and looked forward to many years of family enjoyment.
He is survived by his wife of 49 years and looked forward to their upcoming 50th wedding anniversary celebration in June. He is also survived by sons Luke A. Wilson MD and wife, Sarah, of Leawood KS, and Derek E. Wilson MPA PA-C and life partner, Angela Andrew, of Pittsburg KS and daughter Gina M. McCabe and husband, Tim, of Lenexa. He also leaves 6 grandchildren, Lauren O. Wilson, Luke Harris Wilson, Grace M. Wilson, Cecilia M. McCabe (Lia), Henry J. McCabe, and Oliver W. McCabe. A brother, Roger O Wilson and wife, Connie, of Pittsburg KS and a sister, Kathie Cowan and husband, Don, of Benton IL survive.
Because of circumstances beyond our control a small, family funeral Mass will take place. A celebration of Dennis’ life will take place at a later date.

Memorials are suggested to:

USD 506 Foundation Dr. Dennis Wilson Scholarship Fund
PO Box 189
Altamont KS 67330

USD 395 Foundation Dr. Dennis Wilson Scholarship Fund
PO Box 778
LaCrosse KS 67548

USD 338 Foundation Dr. Dennis Wilson Scholarship Fund
700 Oak
Valley Falls KS 66088

USD 204 Foundation Dr. Dennis Wilson Scholarship Fund
2200 S 138th St
Bonner Springs KS 66012

R-1 Lamar Foundation Dr. Dennis Wilson Scholarship Fund
202 W 7 St
Lamar MO 64759

Proud Animal Lovers Shelter (PALS), a no-kill shelter, 501(c)(3) organization, PO Box 48, Parsons KS 67357

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Service Details

  • Interment

    Bonner Springs Cemetery
    Metropolitan and Sheidley
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email |
Memorial Mass Service to follow at a later date.

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Jackie Luedtke

I was sad to learn that Dennis has passed. I have good memories of my time teaching at LaCrosse High School when he was our superintendent.Just want his family to know I am thinking of them. Jackie Luedtke
Comment | Posted at 07:20pm via Condolence

Chris Kastler

Joanna and Family,
I was truly sad to hear of Dennis's passing. He was such a good mentor to me and a great ambassador for education. I can remember the first time my wife Paula and I went to Dennis and Joanna's house, I had just been hired as assistant superintendent working with Dennis. Paula and I took our 11 year old daughter, Kersten, and our 1 year old son, Kaden, to their home. Kaden was all over the place and Paula and I worried about what Dennis and Joanna would think of us having such a rowdy little boy. Well as you probably can guess, they were gracious and encouraging and that started a great partnership between our families. All of my children shared a memory of Dennis when I called to let my children know of his passing.
As I look through my memories of working with Dennis, I remember the science nights we held. Dennis arraigned for a NASA scientist to come to our district and present to our classes. We then held a huge science night with food, drink and lots of science experiments out on the track. Today, no one can walk into one of our schools and without seeing the lasting impact Dennis made on our schools when the district passed the bond issue. Beautiful, fully functional science labs are in each grade school and at the high school. They are still impressive some 15 years later.
Dennis loved and excelled at staff development. I really admired his desire to work with teachers to improve their teaching and classroom management. I still have the Fred Jones books and videos in my office that I sometimes pull out for new teachers.
I also recall when Dennis worked with a young girl in our office one semester in the afternoons to help make sure she would graduate. He didn't assign this task to someone else. Dennis took the time to work with this student himself. I also remember the leadership and compassion he showed as he led the district through the tragic death of a young teacher and three students who drowned while on a trip for their Spanish class.
I remember Dennis as the caring, respectful, thought provoking educator that he was throughout his life. Always showing respect and dignity to people even when they did not give it back to him. And I saw the love he had for his wife and family. I think maybe because they both worked so hard at their jobs, Dennis and Joanna loved their time together and with their family even more than most couples. I remember stopping in Ft. Scott on the way home from a meeting so Dennis could check on his elderly mother. Again showing kindness and compassion that were so important to Dennis. Dennis I will miss you, thank you for everything you did for me and my family. May God hold you in the palm of his hand.
Comment | Posted at 05:10pm via Condolence

Rudy Taylo

We in Labette County are heavy in anguish as we think about our good friend, Dennis, plus Joanna, the children and grandchildren who are devastated by the loss of their precious loved one. During these times, we must embrace our Holy Father in Heaven, realizing his ways are higher than ours, and he sees the big picture that we don't see ... yet. Someday we will join Dennis on the other side and will look back upon our Earth days with full understanding. Until then, we simply grieve --- as we should. — Rudy Taylor
Comment | Posted at 09:35am via Condolence

Jolene Miller Dinsmore

My heart so sad that Dennis was taken away from his wife Joanna, his children, & grandchildren. Dennis was kindness person I know. He loved his family and Magic shows he love to put on. I remember when Dennis & Joanna lived in LaCrosse. He loved kids. I remember Dennis always had a smile on his face at all time if you saw him, and he had giving heart. God be with you always❤❤ Special in this time.
Comment | Posted at 11:08pm via Condolence

Phyllis Laurion

Dennis was my brother's sophomore Biology teacher in 1981-2. Joanna graduated two years ahead of me so we were in school together. My other brother grad in 1963. We have been devastated by this news. Our hearts go out to you Joanna and your family. Know that we are thinking of you and praying for you every day
Comment | Posted at 10:53pm via Condolence

Phyllis Laurion

Got Stephens dates wrong for sophomore biology. He was in school in 70's not 80's
Posted at 10:57pm

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