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Munising Bay -- Early Morning in Spring
I met Dennis on August 8, 1994.  We grew to be very dear friends sharing everything from the trials and joys of being single parents, sharing stories of our childhoods, sharing experiences on all of the jobs that we had both had in our lives, to creating resumes together at the computer.  We had a very special friendship.  I always referred to him as my butterfly because you never knew when he was going to show up but when he did, we shared a lot of laughs and enjoyed the time together then he was gone again.  We were both very busy people, and sometimes only had time for an occasional phone call.  We had a lot in common--grew up North of Detroit in the suburbs, cruised the same neighborhoods as teenagers, we both had teaching degrees, both were single parents, both loved watching the sun rise over a lake like the picture above, and lots of other things.  Whenever one of us had a bad day, even if we hadn't seen each other in months, we knew we could always count on each other to lend an ear, give advice, receive advice, etc.

Dennis was devoted to his family.  He lived for his children and always had wonderful things to say about them--Michelle, Amy, and Ryan were his life.  He did the best he could for them and helped raise them to be fine, upstanding young adults.  He was their father but also their friend.  He also always talked highly of his brothers, co-workers, and always had respect for the mothers of his children.  He also took his teaching experiences light-heartedly and never said anything derogatory about children.  He was outgoing in public and was well liked by all who met him.  He was never too busy to take time to help out a senior citizen.

And he cared about his friends--all of his friends.  I was touched by his friendship many times, especially last winter after my surgery when I was home alone and he called me the night before the surgery and everyday after the surgery to make sure everything was going ok.  Then the supreme sacrifice of sitting through a country music concert with me--he wasn't a big fan of country music.  And even reluctantly admitted he enjoyed the music.  His biggest fault was that he never seemed to take time to just "relax"--always busy!!  And no one could ever convince him to slow down.

I'll miss you Dennis and so will many others.  We were very privileged to have known you! -- This page will be devoted to you.  I hope soon to have some photographs, some special quotes you liked, some music that you enjoyed, and tributes from your friends and family.


Dennis'  Life:

Dennis was born October 13, 1949 in Ferndale, Michigan to the late Lloyd and Martha (Rautio) Winkler.  He graduated from Kimball High School in Royal Oak, MI in 1968 and from Northern Michigan University Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Social Studies and Elementary Education.  At the time of his death he was a Shift Manager at Kewadin Casino in Christmas, MI and working for Walther Construction. Dennis also taught in the Head Start Program and was a substitute teacher for local area schools, most recently with Superior Central Schools.  Dennis' other job experiences included Training and Curriculum Specialist, and communiciations  with the U.S. Air Force, a commercial truck driver; Account Executive with Sanford Insurance; and Safety and Training Director with Norton Drilling Company in Lubbock, TX.  He was also Water Superintendent in Trenary.  Dennis was a "jack of all trades" and had a passion for life and enjoyed all the different jobs and fields that he worked in.

He was a Boy Scout Leader and loved to volunteer for the U.P. 200 and Midnight Run sled dog races.  Dennis loved to play golf, read, fish, hike, camp, garden, do carpentry, play volleyball, follow hockey (often having to rearrange his work schedule so he wouldn't miss Ryan's games)  and listen to Blues and Jazz music.

Survivors include his 3 children, Michelle Winkler, age 28, of Mesa, AZ, Amy Winkler, age 20, of Tucson, AZ, and Ryan Winkler, age 18, of Mesa, AZ; 4 brothers and their families, Allen Winkler of Sylvian Lake, MI, Gary of Troy, MI, Mark of Crystal Lake, IL, and Brian of Wixom, MI

Memorials can be made in memory of Dennis to Public Radio. <-- click here for information

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If anyone would like to share some other thoughts of Dennis, pictures, etc.  Please email me at