Dennis Easley

27 September 2018
Dennis Easley
Dennis Easley

Dennis Easley, age 68, died last Wednesday, September 26 after a difficult illness. Dennis was Carleton’s Superintendent of Grounds from 1979 until his retirement in 2012. He was also the clock operator for basketball during many of those years, including the most recent season. Dennis cared deeply about the Carleton community and wanted the physical campus to reflect the college’s values and be welcoming of all. His quiet remarks and actions were sprinkled with a dry sense of humor.

Dennis took great care with the plantings around campus, but always with a bit of fun. One friend remembers that a few years before Dennis retired he re-did the plantings in front of Old Music Hall, and put in a bed with a variety of hostas. Each variety was labelled, and if you looked carefully, you noticed that every species had a musical name. Many of the plantings around campus, especially those that make use of native species, are part of Dennis’s legacy. A dedicated runner, he was also responsible for both the only marathon run in the Carleton Arboretum, as well as the “Zoom Yah Yah” indoor marathon that is run every January at St. Olaf.

Dennis is grieved by his wife Katherine, daughter Anne and her husband and children, and many dear friends, including his running and poker buddies. A more complete obituary will be forthcoming from his family.

A memorial service for Dennis will be on Saturday, October 6, at 2:00 p.m., at First United Church of Christ (300 Union Street, Northfield).  

Please keep all of Dennis’s family and friends in your thoughts and prayers.

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  • 2018-09-27 19:38:23
    Fred Hagstrom

    I don't remember how it started, but  fairly often I would stop and talk with Dennis about the grounds.  I made suggestions, maybe in ways that were none of my business.  I advocated for pine trees because they stay green, I commented on certain plantings.  My favorite area is the mugo pines surrounding the pine tree near the corner of Willis and alumni house.  Dennis could have shrugged me off, but he didn't.  He always talked with me about these sorts of things.  He had patience, and a quiet sense of humor. I guess we all want to leave some kind of lasting impression at Carleton, but probably none of us can do that in such a literal way as the people who sculpt the grounds, changing the scene that we see every day.

  • 2018-09-28 08:08:32
    Christopher Tassava

    I'm sorry to see that Mr. Easley has died. I am glad to work every day on the beautiful campus that his vision shaped. I enjoyed chatting with him about this tree or that planting during the years we overlapped at Carleton. He was always gracious and patient in explaining what he and his crew were doing, which I appreciated as a new member of the campus community. I offer my condolences to his family.

  • 2018-09-28 09:44:31
    Amy Erickson

    I so enjoyed working with Dennis at so many Carleton Basketball games over the years. He loved basketball and we shared many laughs, family stories and exciting games in West gym. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife and daughter for comfort in their loss.

  • 2018-09-28 11:32:36
    Tricia Peterson

    Dennis was very kind and generous with his knowledge when I asked him about a tree or plant that I liked and couldn't identify. He contributed so much to the Carleton community. My sincere condolences to his loved ones.

  • 2018-09-29 21:03:38
    Tim Vick

    It is so sad that Dennis was stricken by this horrible disease that took away what might have been a longer and fruitful retirement. I shared a nice relationship with Dennis and we worked together on several small projects related to the Geology Department's outdoor facilities like the observation wells near the Cannon River and on Bell Field, drilling the water well adjacent to the tunnel facing Bell Field, Dacie Moses House, and others. Dennis worked diligently to make Carleton's landscapes interesting and engaging, taking extended trips to Japan and other places to study landscape architecture and bring ideas back to Carleton. I will miss his sense of humor and his presence. Dennis, I hope you rest in peace.

  • 2018-10-01 11:04:17
    Stephen Kelly

    During my time as a Dean my greatest pleasure was having the opportunity to work with so many wonderful staff members. One of the best I worked with was Dennis. We worked together on many issues concerning the campus and especially the relationship of the campus grounds to the Arboretum. Dennis was consistently open minded, cooperative, collegial, and very, very, good humored. Dennis had a wonderful impact on the campus both through his expertise and his engaging personality.

  • 2018-10-02 19:43:41
    Leon Lunder

    Our time together at Carleton was not without challenge. Where I would need a field he would envision a prairie. We, however, could find a compromise. He was a true naturalist and a person whom I deeply respected. Although his earthly presence has passed, his spirit will live on. You are missed.