Dean has had a passion for learning as long as I can remember. However, that passion was for things he was interested in, not necessarily for school or things he was required to learn. The only professions of interest that gave him reason to attend college were: a lawyer or a brain surgeon. Instead he became a printer and self-taught himself in this field.
As a boy, Dean read about Houdini and he read everything he could about being an escape artist, learning how to pick locks, etc. Then it was Evel Knievel and Dean was setting up a ramp in the yard and jumping his bike. He has had so many varied interests that there is not enough space to go into detail about each. A partial list includes, wood working, paintball, bicycles (mountain biking), volleyball (he spent hours practicing his “perfect serve”), Surefire Flashlights, Heidelberg presses, fixing cars, piano, and skiing (skied in CO, CA, NV, VT and even broke his shoulder once).
One of his great interests was guns. Devin and he competed in various shooting competitions, traveling as far away as WY. There Dean won a rifle in the “Golden Egg Shoot,” an event with an egg-sized target at 500 yards. He also learned how to reload his own ammo.
Being a habitual late riser, Dean’s family was shocked to see him getting up at 5:00 in the morning to go to boot camp at the YMCA. He then went on to compete in various 5K’s. He also ran a half marathon in WV (13.1 miles) and a marathon (26.2 miles) in NC.
The things Dean learned about and participated in, he did with his whole heart. He didn’t just learn the basics, he read, researched and learned all that he could until he became quite an expert on a subject. When he wanted to master something, he became consumed with it and he passed his excitement onto others until they joined him in whatever he was doing. His nieces and nephews take Suzuki piano lessons because Dean persuaded us that this was the “best” way to learn piano. They are also learning foreign languages because Dean insisted “it was so important for their brain development and the younger the better. There was only a short period that they would be able to learn to say certain sounds.”
He was always reading, learning and endeavoring to become better. Some of his choices were, “How to Raise a Gentleman”, “How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less”, “A Man Called Peter”, etc.
One of his greatest passions was photography. He and Dannielle’s first conversation concerned cameras, and their first “date” was when Dannielle asked if Dean would give her some photography tips. Not long after that, the two of them hiked several miles through the woods to see and photograph a waterfall after dark. They want to have a photography studio together. On Dean’s Marathon website, you can see a few pictures of eagles he took in Alaska on their honeymoon.
One thing Dean was not interested in was cooking. The only thing he enjoyed making was Greek Salad dressing for our salad each Sunday. He took great delight in perfecting it and we can still see him sticking his finger in it and tasting it to see if it was “just right”. Then if it was, he said, “Ahh, perfect”. Even though he had no interest in cooking or grilling prior to marriage, that changed after he and Dannielle were married. Grilling became something he wanted to excel at and he was in the process of learning all he could about it. Dannielle says that he was becoming quite the expert as she enjoyed his experiments.
The most important thing in Dean’s life was his relationship with God. He gave his heart to the Lord at a young age and always had a tender heart, listening for the leadings of God. His heart was easily entreated and he was quick to seek advice and listen to others even when it hurt. He was very honest and if the truth hurt and upset him for a time, he would always come back with a humble heart and endeavor to be what God wanted him to be. He traveled to the Philippines in December of 2010 as part of a missionary outreach with the saints there. His heart was deeply touched by the humility and sweet spirit of the people there and their deep love for God. He and Dannielle were planning to go back together at the end of 2012.
For years Dean had been searching for the right girl, but God didn’t bring her into his life until early 2011. He finally met the “perfect one”. Dannielle was truly a gift from God. Dean loved her dearly and knew that he had finally found his soulmate. For 6 short weeks they lived a joyous life together, happier than they ever dreamed they would be. God has allowed their life to be changed for awhile, but we know that He has a special plan for Dean and Dannielle. He is with them and will bring them through this challenging time victorious and a living testimony of God’s amazing love.