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.