Dennis Lee Wittman died peacefully in his home, on August 24, 2020. Dennis was born in 1943 at Mercy Hospital, in Hamilton, Ohio, the second of three children of Paul and Kathleen Wittman. In one recent remembrance of his childhood, he explained, "I feel so blessed to have been raised in the time and place that I was, surrounded by family, with nearly all of my aunts, uncles and first cousins close-by, along with my neighborhood friends, playing outside from dawn until dusk in Hamilton’s North End." His love for both the people and the place of Hamilton remained closely, a part of him, throughout his personal and professional life.
Dennis grew up during the post-World War II boom that saw Hamilton’s population grow steeply, to eventually include two high schools. He was a 1961 graduate of Garfield High School, where he excelled academically and proudly reported on the achievements of the Griffins’ athletic teams as the sports editor of the school newspaper. His passion for reporting earned him the National Recreation Association’s annual award for reporting, for a series of articles that he wrote for the Journal-News on Hamilton’s parks and recreation program. Dennis left Hamilton to attend Northwestern University, graduating in 1965, where he served as the sports editor of the Daily Northwestern and where he garnered a lifetime of friendships and cherished memories, which included the deeply impactful mentorship of his favorite professor and dear friend Richard W. Leopold. It was also during this time that he continued a correspondence with a young woman from Hamilton, Candace Ann Wittman (Jones), who he later married on November 5, 1966, and shared the next 47 years of his life.
Dennis attended the United States Navy’s Officer Candidate School (OCS) and was commissioned on November 19, 1965. During his time in the Navy he would go on to serve as the Communications Officer in USS Stribling (DD-867), 1966-67 and later, during a one-year tour at the Naval Support Activity in Danang, RVN, where he served as the Cryptographics Officer, supporting communications for naval units operating throughout Vietnam.
Following his honorable discharge from the Navy in 1968, Dennis and Candace moved to St. Louis, where he attended the Washington University School of Law, and from which he earned his Juris Doctor (JD) in 1971. During Dennis’s time in law school and during these early years of their marriage, he and Candy enjoyed a short time living abroad in London as part of the University of Notre Dame’s summer law program. Also, during this time, Dennis enjoyed his first-ever trip to Crystal Lake in Northern Michigan in 1969, that had served as a summer sanctuary for Candace’s family for years, describing the moment he first saw the clear blue waters as "love at first sight." After being admitted to practice law by the State of Ohio in 1971, Dennis and Candace moved to Washington D.C. where he worked for a year as a Department of Justice litigator, but eventually the pull to return home and live close to family was too great. The return to Hamilton to practice law enabled him to embark on a professional career that spanned five decades of private legal practice and three decades of teaching as an Assistant Professor of Business Law on the Miami University faculty in the Department of Finance from 1977-1999.
Despite all of his personal and professional achievements, along with his service to his country, Dennis will be remembered most by colleagues, friends, and extended family as a fundamentally honorable and decent man, who was fully invested in the well-being and happiness of those whose lives he touched. Dennis would often delight friends and family with his keen wit, gratuitous puns, and incredible recall of specific dates, whether they were unique to family or, if historically significant, finding ways to relate those dates to his astounded audience. But most importantly, for those closest to him that were blessed to call him their husband, brother, father or grandfather, he will be affectionately remembered in the diminutive, by a pet name as coined by Candy – simply, as "Den." Den will live on in the hearts of his closest family as a caring brother, devoted husband, loving father, and cherished grandfather. For his grandchildren, these memories will be emblazoned with the image of their Den, seated opposite, ready for a game of Crazy 8’s on the deck of his cottage overlooking Crystal Lake, or pulling a book off the shelf to read to them a bedtime story before wishing them a good night.
Dennis was preceded in death by his wife, Candace in 2014, his son, Joshua Wittman, and brother David Wittman. He is survived by his sister, Deborah Murphy (Wittman), his son, Will (Kelly) Wittman, daughter-in-law, Brenda Wittman (Long) and grandchildren, Joshua (JT) Wittman, Avery Wittman, Paige Wittman, and Emilie Wittman.
The family wishes to express special appreciation to the entire staff and fine medical professionals of the Carruthers Cancer Center of Fort Hamilton, who during the last year of his life, provided Dennis not only with the highest quality of medical care, but also the with the warmth and caring as they would have of a family member. Donations in his memory can be made to the Fort Hamilton "Lights of Love" (www.ketteringhealth.org/lightsoflove/), which bring comfort and joy to so many during the holiday season. Additionally, as someone who loved and appreciated the natural beauty of Northern Michigan, donations in Dennis’s memory can be made to the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy (www.gtrlc.org).
A graveside service will be held at Rose Hill cemetery on Wednesday, September 2, 2020 at 10:00 AM for family and close friends. Invited guests will arrive 9:30 – 10:00 AM. Wearing of facial coverings and observance of social distancing will be mandatory for all attendees.Visitation: Private Funeral Service:
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