It is with heavy hearts we announce the passing of Dennis William Stokes on April 15, 2019 at the age of 87 years. Dennis was a man who knew how to have a good time, and he made us laugh and brought us joy til the end. He personified perseverance, generosity, and eternal optimism. He lived life to the fullest and was a man of many talents.
He will be forever loved and remembered by his son, John of Madrid Spain; his daughter, Elizabeth of Victoria BC; four stepchildren and their families: Bruce Magyar, Christine (Eric) Barringham, Dan (Joy Alford) Magyar, and Anna (Doug) Cooper. He was predeceased by his cherished second wife Antoinette in 2014.
A Celebration of Life will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 11, 2019 at Connelly-McKinley Funeral Home, 10011 114 Street, Edmonton.
Dennis was born during the Great Depression on the fourth of March, 1932, in London, England. After his mother died when he was three years old, he moved around between his aunts until his father remarried. During his school years, he won a scholarship to study piano at the Royal Academy of Music, and shortly after was accepted into Alleyn–aphostrophe–s School, a boarding school recognized for its Music Program. When he was 15, his parents, tired of the rationing in post-WW2 England, decided to try their luck in the Colonies and sailed to South Africa. Disappointed with the systemic racism, they returned to England within six months and Dennis was told he had to look for work. He worked as an office boy until he was 18, when he left home and London and held a wide variety of jobs, which included being a farmhand, a bartender, and playing piano in a dance band where they drove across Devon England in a hearse. In 1956 when he was 24 years old he returned to London.
Two years later he emigrated to Canada to join his parents who were already there. He eventually settled in London Ontario. Shortly thereafter Dennis met Mary Eleanor Ross, whom he married in 1964 and became father to both John and Elizabeth by January 1967. To make a better life for his family, Dennis began university at the age of 38. From 1970-1975, he studied and obtained his Honours Bachelor Degree and his Masters in Sociology at the University of Western Ontario. In 1975, the family moved to Edmonton so that Dennis could pursue his Ph.D. in Sociology at the U of A, which was a cutting edge department at the time. In 1981, he started his job as a research scientist at Alberta Environment. In 1982 he defended his dissertation and began teaching part-time at the U of A, an activity he would continue, along with his public sector work, between 1987 and 1994. In 1988, he separated from Mary, and they were later divorced. Throughout his life, Dennis pursued many hobbies, from building his own sailboat and sailing it, to building model ships, to perpetually building and re-building sophisticated model railways and towns. He was an amazing pianist and accomplished cook. Dennis loved sing-alongs at British pubs, horseback riding, and became a regular fixture at the Fringe Festival.
In 1996, he met Antoinette Magyar and they married in 2002 when was 70 years old. This was also the same year that he retired. Along with Antoinette came a huge extended family, which included Antoinette–aphostrophe–s parents, her 9 brothers and sisters, her 4 sons and daughters (Bruce, Christine, Dan and Anna) and grandchildren. They had 18 beautiful years together before Antoinette passed away in 2014. Dennis would say those were the happiest years of his long and active life.
About two and a half years ago, he moved downtown to Our Parents Home seniors apartments on Jasper Avenue and enjoyed gin and tonic nightcaps across the street at Earls Tin Palace. He continued to enjoy his visits with his stepchildren, and with his children John and Elizabeth when they would come to town. He continued to entertain delighted listeners with his piano playing.
As sad as we are at his passing, he was a man who lived life well, who believed in the power of redemption and made that manifest in his life.
In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Dennis may be made to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Alberta or to the Alzheimer Society.