Saturday, August 27, 2011

Please Keep Smiling

Dennis Shook
Friday afternoon I was saddened when I read on facebook that Dennis Shook had passed away earlier that morning. On Saturday the Kenosha News reported that the longtime journalist and cable television host was found slumped over in his car parked on the southside of the post office. Recently, Dennis had been diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis and was told by doctors he could possibly live only five more years. Unfortunately, he left us after only three short months.

While this is certainly sobering news, the only way I remember Dennis is being cheerful, witty and upbeat. He was blessed with an amazingly positive outlook and was kind enough to share it with the people in his life. He was forever smiling. Dennis gave much more than he ever took.

Last August I was privileged to have Dennis ask me to be on his “Shakin’ Up Kenosha” show to discuss the book I had written. After a bit of persistence from Dennis and much consternation on my part, I agreed to do it.

At first I was a flattered, but then I started having some concerns. After all, I am a man of size and my face isn’t exactly suited for TV. The week leading up to the taping I became more and more nervous. What had I gotten myself into?

The Thursday before, I called Dennis and explained my concerns, telling him that I wasn’t feeling too well. He quickly put my fears to rest, assuring me that he would see to it that I was comfortable and shouldn’t worry. Reluctantly, I agreed.

Saturday came and we taped the 30-minute show. I arrived at 2:05 and was getting back into my truck by 3:00. It was a lot of fun and despite my earlier trepidation I really enjoyed myself.

We discussed my book and Kenosha softball in general. I was allowed to make several shameless plugs for my book as we discussed the good old days. It seemed like we were just getting started when the words, “that’s a wrap” were coming from the production booth.

Dennis had done exactly as he had promised. He put me at ease with that cheerful attitude of his. He had a smile on his face from the moment he greeted me at the door of the studio until he shook my hand and wished me good-bye.

Later I found out that the reason we had to tape “Shakin’ Up Kenosha” when we did was because Dennis was having some pretty serious surgery in just a few weeks. Even knowing what he was about to deal with, it never stopped him from smiling that infectious smile of his. It was as if his own problems were of no concern.

I will never forget that smile.

In the Kenosha News article, County Executive Jim Kreuser had this to say about Dennis, “He will definitely be missed by the Kenosha community. He touched a lot of corners of the community.”

Today, those people whose lives were touched by Dennis feel great sorrow, especially his wife, Laura and their children, Julia and Dennis Jr. This sadness is natural and to be expected. But while we mourn the passing of this wonderful man, please keep smiling. That’s what Dennis would do.

Dear God, please remember our brother Dennis; may you bring him and all the departed into the light of your presence.

Until next time…from the booth.


Liz and Jim said...

Paul, What a beautiful sentiment...We will always be thankful for his "infectious smile". He was a very friendly, intelligient and stimulating person, that were lucky to have in our lives. God, bless his family and hold them close. Thanks for the article.

Paul E. Vagnoni said...

Well put, he was all of that to be sure. It was an honor to write it.

Leplume said...

I never met him but enjoyed his show. He seemed like a very good man.

Paul E. Vagnoni said...

He was a wonderful man.

Jan Michalski said...

I knew Dennis, and he was as good a friend and person as you present. When he went for the DOT job, I took over his hosting Politalks duties, but he was unmatched in keeping the humor up and rancor down. Such a loss.

Paul E. Vagnoni said...

Jan, it's a tremendous loss on so many levels.

Julia Shook said...

Thank you very much for your kind words about my father. I hope everyone remembers him as you so wonderfully wrote of him.

Paul E. Vagnoni said...

Julia, I have no doubt that everyone will remember what a wonderful man your father was. My heart goes out to you and your family. You are all in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Paulie,
Your body will never be as big as your heart is. The Fly was a really good guy - something I never realized, until I got a chance to talk to him after a softball game a couple of years ago at J&T's. I had played quite a few games against his teams in the fall leagues and they always had a decent assemblage of talent, but I kind of felt that Dennis didn't really belong on the field. After a couple of beers, and some spirited discussion, I realized that his passion for comptitiveness was every bit as strong as mine and that he had every right to be there, battling to the end, which he always did. He was a good guy and, in my book, you can't say anything better about a fellow ballplayer. RIP I miss him already.


Paul E. Vagnoni said...

Thanks, John.

bertvasquez23 said...

Having read some of these posts makes me happy in a time where I am feeling soorow. I consider Dennis (FLY) not a good friend but a great friend. I knew him for 15+ years and played softball on friday nights for several years and he also coached basketball with me for five years where we won 3 Kenosha City basketball titles. I didnt realize how much it meant to him until after the first title....enjoyment that is hard to describe. We had many many conversations about everything from ofcourse sports to to personal thoughts and friendly banter. He was there for me when I needed a friend at not only the worst of times but the best of times as well. I am thankful for having had the opportunity to have had such a friend. My sincere condolences go out to Laura, Julia and how i know him, Cubby (Dennis Jr.)!! Albert Vasquez

Anonymous said...

The Fly was one of those unique people that left you in a better frame of mind after you were with him, than you were before. There are too few people like that in the world and your story is testimony to Dennis' great knack for making people feel good about themselves.

Rock 28

Paul E. Vagnoni said...

Well put, Glenn.