On Tuesday morning, February 23rd, another cherished member of “The Greatest Generation” quietly slipped away with his loving wife and daughter by his side.
Denis Marshall Robel was born December 28, 1922 to Beatrice and Gregory Robel.
He grew up on an orchard in the heart of the Yakima Valley, where he attended elementary and high school.
After graduation, Denis answered the call of his country and enlisted in the U. S. Navy where he served three years as an aerographer in the Pacific during WWII.
When the war ended, he was honorably discharged and used his severance pay to make a down payment on an orchard in Selah, WA, then headed to W.S.U.
to attend college on the G.I.
He later transferred to Seattle University where he completed a degree in civil engineering.
Denis loved to dance, and in college was known as “Fred Astaire.”
The girls there loved to “cut in” to dance with him, but he only had eyes for one…his future wife, Marie Sullivan.
They married on June 19, 1954, returned to the orchard in Selah and had four children.
In addition to running the orchard, Denis earned his Professional Engineering license and went to work for the Washington State Department of Transportation, where he helped survey and engineer safe roads and bridges for the citizens of Washington State for almost thirty years.
During that time, Denis and Marie transferred their family to Spokane, where they joined St. Charles Parish and eventually conceived another daughter.
Denis had a wonderful voice, played the piano, and was an exceptionally talented engineer and creative inventor.
He loved to fix things and could fix almost anything; even crafting parts out of materials like nails and PVC pipe.
He built a motorized cradle for his “colicky” son, and we are pretty sure he was the first inventor of the wall-mounted changing table found in every public restroom.
Denis loved agriculture, and his annual summer garden reflected his years of expertise from the orchard.
He was an avid follower of politics and current events, and spent countless hours in his den studying math and the stock market.
He was quiet, humble, and incredibly competent with everything he did, but never thought of himself as extraordinary…although he was.
Denis personified duty to his faith, family, and country; always putting others ahead of himself.
He was an incredible example of dignity and perseverance in the face of the disability he experienced in the years following a devastating stroke and always gave his best efforts trying to improve his health and mobility; even up to the end of his life.
He was a faithful and devoted husband to Marie; a dedicated father to his children; a patient, doting grandfather; and tender-hearted owner of many pets.
He was a member of St. Charles Catholic Church for almost 50 years and Knights of Columbus for over 50 years.
Denis was preceded in death by his mother and father; brother Dan; and beloved son David.
He is survived by his loving wife of almost 62 years, Marie; sons Greg Robel and John (Linda) Robel; daughters Diane Robel and Janet Robel; grandchildren Marshall Robel, Lauren Berg, Lena Robel, and Dylan Jackson; brother-in-law John (Rosie) Sullivan; and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.
We would like to give special thanks to his compassionate and loving caregivers at Riverview Care Center, especially Tiffany and Nik.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the St. Charles Building Fund, the Poor Clare Nuns, Engineers Without Borders, or a charity of your choice.
Vigil services will be Friday, March 4, 2016 at 7pm with visitation beginning at 6pm at St. Charles Catholic Church, 4515 N. Alberta, Spokane, WA.
Funeral Mass will be Saturday, February 5, 2016 at 11am and will be celebrated at St. Charles Catholic Church.
Interment will take place at Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery.
Arrangements have been entrusted to:
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