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KADATZ, Dennis Melvin

November 1, 1938 – Edmonton, Alberta
June 11, 2019 – Calgary, Alberta

Husband, father, Opa, brother, as well as friend, coach and builder.

Dennis is survived by his wife of 58 years, Denise; his children Karen (Paul Vogel), Kim (Bryan) and Kurt (Sneh Seetal); his sister Marlene Copeland (Clinso); his brother-in-law Rod Esper; and his six precious grandchildren, Nathalie, Lauren, Gianni, Elsa, Ingrid and Conrad.

The son of Ted and Elsa Kadatz, Dennis grew up milking cows, driving the tractor and doing all the duties of a farm kid during the 1940s. Education was just as important. Depending on the season, Dennis would ride his bicycle, pony, or sleigh to the one-room Wimbledon school. High school meant a move to Edmonton for Marlene and Dennis, with trips home to the farm and parents on weekends. It was during this time that Dennis was encouraged to join local sports teams. He loved – and shone – at baseball, hockey and football. The seed had been planted for this farm kid to grow a lifelong connection to sport.

Following graduation from Scona High, Dennis attended the University of Alberta, earning a B.PE and a teaching certificate. While at university, his passion for football flourished and he played football with the Huskies and the Golden Bears. He also met his teammate for life – Denise Esper and they kicked off a relationship that would eventually span 6 decades. What a great ‘cold call’ that was, Dad! 1961 was a busy year as Dennis – aged 22 – began teaching at Scona, started his Master’s degree, was recruited to coach the Edmonton Huskies and got married! He became the youngest coach in league history to lead a team to the National Championships. His back-to-back wins in ’62 and ’63 resulted in an offer from the fledgling University of Calgary, to head up first Dino football team in 1964. He soon became the university’s first Athletic Director and eventually Associate Dean of Physical Education. These were exciting times with Dennis and Denise making lifelong friends and sharing in the energy of the young university. During his tenure at the U of C, Dennis earned his PhD from the University of Oregon.

A leader in sport development and administration, he participated in the observation team at the 1972 Munich Olympics and shepherded the Canadian team as Assistant Chef de mission for the 1983 Universiade in Edmonton. He was instrumental in securing the Jimmy Condon athletic scholarships for all Alberta post-secondary athletes from the Government of Alberta in 1981.

In recognition of his contributions to sport, Dennis has been honoured as a distinguished alumnus by the U of A, and admitted to the Huskies Football Hall of Fame, the U of C’s Athletic Hall of Fame, and the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame. Each year the U of C’s top male and female athletes are presented with an award in Dennis’ name.

In 1985, Dennis made the leap to join the Calgary Olympic Development Association, as preparations to manage the legacy of the 1988 Winter Olympics began in earnest. As CODA’s president, Dennis was chief steward of funds and facilities – ensuring sites like Canada Olympic Park were viable throughout the year and accessible for all people. With much accomplished, it was a heartfelt decision for Dennis to retire from CODA in 1999.

Dennis and Denise continued to travel during retirement and always looked forward to cherished reprieves at the Shuswap. Dennis and Denise shared an amazing life with their three children, and later their spouses and their own children. Two sabbatical leaves enabled the family to travel and study abroad. Good friends always played important roles in Dennis’ life and the circles were many – the Gourmet Club, U of A, U of C, Booster Club, Huskies Football, Winter Sport, the Shuswap.

Among numerous life achievements, Dennis was perhaps most proud of the crops he put in at the family farm and the cabin he built for (and with) his family at Shuswap Lake; his expansive “cabin in the woods” became a place for family and friends to gather and create enduring memories.

Our old “Dino” was a force to be reckoned with and he left a lasting impression on those who knew him. Dennis had a vision for all that he pursued, whether it was professional or personal. An encouraging “go for it!” was one of his frequent pieces of advice. His work ethic, commitment and contribution to the amateur sport world were both stellar and steadfast. His love for his wife unwavering and the pride in his children and grandchildren, genuine.

A celebration of Dennis’ life will be held at the Red and White Club in Calgary (1833 Crowchild Trail NW, Calgary, AB) on Tuesday, June 25 at 3 p.m. If you so wish, please consider donating blood to Canadian Blood Services or funds to the Dr. Dennis Kadatz Family Athletics Award (call U of C at 403-220-8261 or visit www.netcommunity.ucalgary.ca/dennis-kadatz). The family thanks the doctors who cared for Dennis during his health challenges, including his struggle with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) – Dr. Michelle Geddes, Dr. Susan Barr and Dr. Anna Bizios. Thanks also to the cheerful and caring team at the BMT Unit at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre. Condolences may be forwarded through www.McInnisandHolloway.com.

In living memory of Dennis Kadatz, a tree will be planted at Fish Creek Provincial Park by McINNIS & HOLLOWAY FUNERAL HOMES, Park Memorial, 5008 Elbow Drive SW, Calgary, AB, T2S 2L5, Telephone: 403-243-8200.

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Condolence Messages

  1. Mike & Mary Lambert

    To Kurt and family
    We were so sorry to hear of the loss of your husband, father, Opa, brother. We are thinking of you at this difficult time and send you all our love and condolences. May he always live on through your memories.

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  2. Karen Durfee Appel

    Love and gratitude for all that Dennis was to our family, and to have shared a small part of his life for over fifty years. I celebrate and honor those memories.

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  3. Rob and Fran Anderson

    Denise and family,

    Our thoughts and sincere sympathy go out to you on the loss of such an influential soul. We were so glad to reconnect with you folks in the past few years. Dennis was a big part of our university years. We will cherish the memories. We will be out of town on the 25th but know that our hearts will be with you.

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  4. Andrea McLellan

    Dear Kim and family. I was so sorry to hear of your Dad’s passing. He was clearly a man of integrity, with a zest for life, who was loved by many. Sending my sincere condolences during this sad time.

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  5. So sorry to hear of your loss Denise.

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  6. Tom Spoletini

    Our thoughts and prayers go out to the whole family , Dennis truly was the leader at the University of Calgary Athletic department while I attended and through that leadership I personally was able to achieve great heights even if I didn’t realize it then . Unfortunately we’ll be out of country during the celebration but Marianne and I will reflect on his great life and contribution June 25th !

    Our sincerest Condolences ,

    Tom & Marianne

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  7. Anne Allbright

    Wishing well of you and your family in this time of loss. God Bless!

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  8. Michael Poland

    Thank you for sharing ‘Dino’ Kadatz with we Calgarians all through these decades. We owe much to such stellar citizens as he. Our condolences to all of his family.

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  9. John & Marjorie Karwash

    We send our deepest sympathy to the family of Dennis. We hope all the wonderful memories will give you comfort. Growing up with Dennis I to have many memories which I will cherish forever.
    May he rest in peace.
    John & Marjorie Karwash

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  10. Sylvia (Robertson) Massig

    Denise, I was saddened to read of Dennis’ passing and of his health struggles these past few years and wish to express my sincere condolences to you and your family. You and Dennis had an amazing life, and your support of all his endeavors & accomplishments are a testimony of what a great husband/wife team can be. His/your legacy will live on forever.

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  11. Deanne Durfee

    Dear Denise:
    My family’s relationship with you and Dennis taught me that we don’t raise families alone – we raise them in conjunction with our extended family, friends, and communities. Dennis, along with Peter, Nat and my dad, modeled caring, loving and involved fathers. My fondest childhood memories involve these four men taking a group of us children out for a day on various activities, be it movies, playing some sport, camping, or simply spending time with us. Dennis’s smile, quick wit, and encouraging demeanor were always steady.
    I wish we could be with you, but know how special Dennis and you are to us, and that you are in our thoughts at this time.

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  12. Condolences to Denise and the Kadatz family

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  13. Val and Gloria Schneider

    Denise and family,
    Our sincere condolence to you and your family on the passing of Dennis. A wonderful and caring human being who touched the lives of many people he came into contact with. A true icon in the sporting world whose many accomplishments and tributes will be his legacy.

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  14. oh Dennis,memories of campfires and family meals at the Lake.
    Gabion baskets, under your instruction. Karen and Pauls wedding at your home. Christmas at Watson Lake with Karen Paul, Kurt and Denise.
    Hard to mention all the things involved in missing you, but missed you will be.

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  15. I am saddened to learn of the recent passing of Mr. Kadatz.
    I have fond memories of my interactions with Mr. Kadatz during my Dino playing days in the 80’s.
    A fine Gentleman who will be greatly missed.
    My sincerest sympathies to the Kadatz Family.

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  16. STAN J. Schwartz

    June 14, 2019

    Denise and Family,

    Shirley and I are deeply saddened by the loss of Dennis.

    The Kadatz family will be faced with enormous and profound adjustments. These adjustments will be such that they affect the whole being. The path of grief, hurt and finally acceptance will take time and is one that each member of the family must travel alone. You are fortunate that your family and friends are close and each in their own special way will help others.

    I, like so many, was fortunate to have known Dennis Kadatz as a coach, a professor, a sport’s builder, and most importantly as a mentor and a friend. Dennis is one of those special people who helped me see the value of sports and the importance of sports in society. He helped shape my life.

    While serving as my coach at the University of Calgary, he quickly showed his love for the game and commitment to his players. He cared about his athletes on and off the playing field. The people that he coached were more important than the athletes he coached. He “earned the respect that is embodied in the hallowed name – COACH.”

    Dennis introduced me to the coaching profession. I remember him emphasizing, “the longer you spend in the game of football, the more you’ll realize how much more there is to learn.” He emphasized that what we do as coaches is unique and special. If you plan to stay in coaching, seize every opportunity to improve your knowledge of the game.

    Dennis Kadatz touched my life and my future by helping me become who I am. I will always remember his ongoing support, wisdom and most importantly the friendship that he provided me from my time at the University of Calgary to and through the coaching and executive ranks of professional football. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support of my family and people like my friend, Dennis Kadatz.

    However, a more important statement about Dennis and the kind of person he was is what he left behind. Dennis is such a lucky person to have a caring family and friends. He is so proud of you Denise; his daughters Karen (Paul Vogel) and Kim (Bryan), his son Kurt (Sneh Seetal); his sister Marlene Copeland (Clinso); his brother-in-law Rod Esper; his grandchildren; his family and friends. What greater satisfaction is there in life? People are better off today for knowing Dennis Kadatz.

    Knowing all too well the tough times that lie ahead, empathy for the Kadatz family is strong. Remember the good times that will always be there to remind you, for they will help you through the many hurtful moments. Hold these memories fast. Soon they will help you remember with a smile. Dennis lives on in your life and the lives of others who knew him.

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

    Your friends,
    Stan and Shirley Schwartz

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  17. Jenn Lomas & Will Fong

    What a heartfelt tribute to an amazing man. We had the pleasure to briefly meet Dennis during the 2010 Olympics when we volunteered for the Canadian Athlete Family Program at the Listel Hotel alongside Kurt and Sneh.

    We are sorry to hear of Dennis’ passing, and are keeping you all close in our thoughts and hearts during this time.

    Much love,

    Jenn Lomas & Will Fong

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  18. Allan Wachowich

    To the Family of Dennis Melvin Kadatz:
    I read the sad news in the Edmonton Journal of the passing of my old friend, Dennis. I extend to all of you my sincere condolences. I’ve known Dennis since high school. Thereafter he gained an outstanding reputation of a man of integrity and sincere sense of dedication. My thoughts and prayers are with you at this time.
    Allan Wachowich

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  19. Vicki Van Vliet Vaitkunas

    Although I have not seen Denny for years I remember him ( and Denise) well. Always good fun and he has had a wonderful life doing what he loved. May your many happy memories sustain you during this time of grief.
    Vicki Van Vliet Vaitkunas

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  20. Dennis was a class act and a wonderful inspiration to a lot of young men.

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  21. Robert Trumper

    Denise: We have many great memories of special times spent with you and Dennis at SKAL events. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

    Bob & Sandy Trumper

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  22. To Denise and family
    Dennis was one of the first people in sports I met in Calgary when I arrived at radio station CHQR in October of 1971. It was the result of his leadership that the U of C Athletic program became one of the best and his outstanding work in achieving a provincial government athletic scholarship program for all Alberta Schools is something I always felt stood out among his many accomplishments.
    I wish I could be in Calgary for the celebration of his life and share in some of the wonderful stories that your many friends will tell with the touch of humor that Dennis loved to enjoy.
    Peace be with you Dennis,
    Gary Arthur

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  23. Peter and Helen Reichenbach

    So many years of memories as friends, colleagues, occasionally as adversaries, always with great respect.
    I first met Dennis in 1962 when I joined the staff of the UofA and he was one of the Masters Degree students. The next year he led the Huskies to a win in the national titles played in – 8degF in Calgary. Don Macintosh and I attended the game and congratulated Dennis at a post game gathering. Dennis then joined our staff at the UofC in 1964 and we were colleagues for the next nine years until I returned to Australia in 1973.
    Since then we have remained in contact and visited and stayed with one another a few times in Calgary, Shuswap Lake and Melbourne.
    It was indeed a sad shock to hear of his death but it seems as though it was as he would have wished with his family by his side. There is no doubt that his life was a full and enjoyable one, with great professional achievements and acknowledgements, and a wonderful personal life with Denise and their family and many friends.
    With love and condolences to Denise, Karen, Kim, Kurt and families,
    from Peter and Helen Reichenbach, Montmorency, Melbourne.

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  24. Al and Lovey Schick

    Denise and Family,

    We are so sorry for your loss. We extend our sincere condolences.

    Al and Lovey Schick

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  25. Denise and Family;
    I was saddened to read of Dennis’s passing. I last saw him and Denise at Murray Smith’s memorial, a person and coach he highly respected. I have known Denise and Dennis from the time Dennis and I played together with the Edmonton Huskies. He was amazing that at age 26, just five years out of Junior Football, that he coached his teams to two national championships. He was as talented as a coach as he had been as a player. He was ever a Huskie, joining reunions of the first six teams in 2007 and again in 2012, as well of reunions of teams he coached. It was a pleasure to have known him as a teammate and as a friend. You were always a special couple.

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  26. Les and Shirley Johannesen

    Dear Denise and Family
    We are very saddened to hear of Dennis’ passing . Our sincere condolences to you and the family. My years of working with Dennis at CODA were very rewarding and under his leadership the Olympic legacy from the ‘88 Calgary Winter Olympics was protected and has flourished.
    We very much enjoyed our times together with you and Dennis at CODA events and gatherings . They were special times ,spent with special people.

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  27. Dear Denise and Family, my heartfelt condolences to you all. I have fond memories of Dennis, not only for his significant contributions to the Dino athletic programs, but also his zest for life and genial good humour. I think I sum it up best in the manner we would all like to be remembered, “He was a good man”.

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  28. Heather MacKay

    Kurt and Family,
    Sorry to hear about the passing of your father. Blessings from those that you worked with. May his memory continue in the next generation.
    Blessings and prayer
    Heather MacKay

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  29. Fritz & Helga Rauscher

    Dear Denise, Karen, Paul, Kim and Kurt, we sincerely feel with you.
    35 years ago, our friendship began when we were together, it was always a highlight in our lives, many shared fond memories, moments, pictures, conversations and laughter that we shared and talked and narrated so often.
    Dennis will live on in our hearts.
    Fritz and Helga
    germany

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  30. Carmen Wenstrom

    Denise & family,

    It was a privilege to care for, and get to know Dennis through our many chats in the BMT clinic. Always smiling, and making me laugh… he was often a highlight of my day at work in the clinic. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this time.

    Carmen

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  31. Judi (Goodwin) Lee

    Dennis was a much cared for and respected man by our father (Dr Lou Goodwin) and our whole family. Condolences to all. He will be missed.

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  32. Susanne Morris

    Our sincere condolences from Cabin 75 (Choi/Morris). I remember Dennis leading many a meeting at Shuswap. He will be missed by everyone.

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  33. Brad & Bonnie Kilb

    Denise and family
    I want to let you know about my immense respect for Dennis as I reflect over these past decades. It was during those early years that Bonnie & I got to know Denise, Dennis and the kids so well. You all have been such quality community leaders.
    As I think of all the incredible experiences that we have had with Dennis, I can’t help but feel blessed to have worked under him at the University of Calgary. I came into the ‘Dino’ coaching team as a rookie under Dennis’ leadership. The timing was perfect for me to step into this level of coaching with Dennis as my Athletic Director. I always felt support from him as my mentor. I felt that I could come to Dennis and receive wise advice. I regarded his advice with utmost confidence and respect. What I liked most about Dennis was his genuine care for me as a coach and a human being – I truly considered him a genuine friend.
    I have seen many ADs come and go throughout my four decades of coaching and teaching at the U of C, but no one who can compare to Dennis – he was absolutely ‘the best’ and he will be missed by many.
    Bonnie & Brad Kilb

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  34. Donald Markowsky

    Don and Carol Markowsky
    June 20/ 2019
    Dear Denis and Family
    We offer our condolences on the loss of Dennis . From the late 50.s playing with the Edmonton Huskies and through the years when our paths crossed in Calgary and the visits we had on Vacation at Ixtapa / Zihua . We will miss those times .
    Don and Carol Markowsky
    Ajijic Jalisco Mexico

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  35. Elizabeth Larsen

    Heartfelt condolences and much love to the all of the Kadatz family. We have felt the zest for life, learning and travel, and the high value given to family and friends that Dennis is described to have held through our connection with Karen, Paul, Nathalie and Lauren. It would seem that these are gifts that will continue to bless the world in the very best of ways.
    Beth, Mark, Meira and Eli Larsen

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  36. Dennis was the Physical Education Faculty Dean at the University of Calgary when I attended; taking time to nurture and encourage many of his students, I respected, liked and admired the change Dennis influenced in his community. May the family be comforted at the many lives Dennis positively impacted, in this time of profound loss. Warm thoughts, Janet Scott

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  37. Hector and Gail McFadyen

    Denise, we are so sorry for your loss; our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Always enjoyed our time with Dennis …. a wonderful person and a true character in many respects. Many fond memories. God Bless.

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  38. Denise , I wish to express my sympathy and let you know that my thoughts and prayers are with you, Coral

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  39. Wendy Robertson

    Dear Denise and family,
    It is with great sadness that I heard about Dennis’ passing. Working with Dennis at CODA/COP was the highlight of my career as I learned so much from him! His high expectations of the people he worked with laid the foundation for many young people to reach great heights in their future careers. He and I dealt with some challenging situations over the years but he was a great leader and very professional in every way. We also had some good laughs too! One thing that always stuck in my mind was when he promoted me to Human Resources Manager he said “ never put me in the situation that we have to lay people off “ as Dennis cared so much about each of the employees. The world has lost a great man but is a better place because he touched so many lives!

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  40. david ginther

    I remember fondly the time I spent working with Denis and the Dino’s. There were a lot of great times.

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  41. Art and Arlene Sali

    Dear Denise and family,
    Our sincere condolences in the loss of Dennis. He was such a gentleman and friend to all. His accomplishments were remarkable and he will be missed by everyone. We share good memories of our fun times together.
    Warm regards,
    Art and Arlene

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  42. Wayne & Beverley Harris

    Our thoughts and prayers for all the Kadatz family. I appreciate all Dennis did as a coach, athletic director and supporter of my playing and coaching career. His bright smile and genuine enthusiasm will be missed at Dinos Football games and events. May you find comfort in sharing stories and knowing that Dennis had such a positive impact on so many.

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  43. Denise & Family:
    Sincere condolences from Lynne and I. So many, many fond memories to fall back on. Unfortunately, distance interfered with get togethers over the last few years. Your future will have a big open space that Dennis filled, but hopefully support from family and friends will carry you through.
    Warmest Regards
    Chuck & Lynne

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