Dennis Kairis, 83, passed away peacefully at home on May 19th, 2023, with his devoted wife Marcia at his side, as always.
Dennis was born in 1939 in Chicago, the only child of Pauline and Carl Kairis. He graduated from Saint Mary’s College in Minnesota with degrees in English and Philosophy. The consummate intellectual, he obtained a Masters from Ohio University, and was a life-long learner, attending philosophy classes into his 70’s.
He met his soulmate Marcia at nearby Saint Teresa’s College. They discovered they lived four blocks apart in Chicago and were both Lithuanian. Considering it divine fate, they married in 1961 and had 61 beautiful years together, sharing a devotion that inspired all.
Dennis was a loving father to his four children and always sought to serve those who God entrusted to him. Whether driving in a rented Winnebago through the night, covering himself with wet sand to become the “Sand Monster” to the delight of his children, or playing the accordion every Christmas, he was an ever-present mentor, coach, cheerleader, and spiritual advisor.
He indulged Marcia’s passion for animals by filling their urban Clintonville home with dogs, cats, fish, roosters, ducks, rabbits, and a goat. The horses were boarded elsewhere until he built their dream home in the country, where they added a burro for good measure.
Dennis’s great loves outside his family were Notre Dame, Ohio State, and the Chicago Bears. His love for sports continued long after his college days, and he was the number one fan at his kids’ elementary, high school, and collegiate games. He played racquetball daily into his late 70’s with a very special group of friends, and throttled his kids and grandkids on the court every Christmas. He enjoyed golf, cherishing trips with his sons. Dennis proudly celebrated his Lithuanian heritage by preparing Lithuanian food every Christmas with recipes still kept alive today.
Dennis worked as a human resource executive (Borden bringing him to Columbus) until starting his own successful consulting company. In 1997, he “retired” to become a professor at the University of Dayton where he sometimes co-taught with his daughter Tracy, also a professor. He led summer semesters all over Europe where he would often escape with Marcia in a rented car to “see where it takes us.”
At home, Dennis had a passion for serving God by serving others. He made meals for the homeless, drove others to Mass, and participated in daily and weekly bible study with a group of men who became brothers to him. He spent his last day with those men in bible study, his last night holding hands with his wife, and his last journey smilingly watching his beloved neighbors, friends and family support Marcia as he had supported her for so many years.
He is survived by his soulmate Marcia, brother-in-law (“brother” in spirit) Robert, aka Sergio (Wendy) Simon, sisters-in-law Sister Arlene Simon and Jean (John) Brabeck, four children John (Jacqueline) Kairis, Tracy (Dave) Miller, Gretchen (Dave) Zietowski, and Matthew (Susan) Kairis. He was known as a beloved Gepa to his fourteen grandchildren: Margie, Jake and Lily Kairis; Zach, Sam (Tori), Luke (Olivia), and Max Miller; Maes, Joey, and Jenna Zietowski; and Anna (Matt), Ellie (Andrew), Grace, and Sophie Kairis; and seven great-grandchildren Beniah, Carmella, and Leonardo Kairis; Teddy and Charlie Miller; and Audrey and Sienna Miller.
Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:30 AM, Thursday, May 25, 2023 at St. Paul Catholic Church, 313 N. State St., Westerville. Family will receive friends for a Rosary and eulogies beginning at 6:00 PM, Wednesday, May 24, 2023 at HILL FUNERAL HOME,
In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Dennis can be made to St. Paul Catholic Church, or its St. Vincent De Paul Society, at www.stpacc.org.