Passed away on June 10, 2014, after a six month battle with lung cancer and related complications. 18 year resident of Rohnert Park, CA; native of Crystal Lake, IL. Age 63. Beloved husband of Carolyn Park Rich for 26 years. Devoted father of Shannon and Jonathan Rich. Loving son of Irmgard Svejcar and the late James C. Rich of Crystal Lake, IL. Adored brother of Patricia (George) Collier of MacClenny, FL, and the late Donald Rich. To everyone else, he was an amazing son-in-law, brother-in-law, step-brother, uncle, friend and neighbor. It's difficult to describe a man's life in a few paragraphs, but Dennis was a special guy who touched many lives. Proud Army veteran, 25th Infantry, served 1969 - 72 in Vietnam and returned home permanently wounded. Awarded two Purple Hearts, Air Medal and the Bronze Star for his acts of selflessness and bravery in combat. He began a long recovery and a series of career changes and moved to California to start a new life in 1979. He had been a bartender, restaurant manager, truck driver, shipping manager, a firefighter, and then moved on to commercial construction as a service manager, repairing and training air and gun-powder tools. He was just as great at breaking things as fixing them. He retired in 2007. He passionately enjoyed everything outdoors: camping, hiking, backpacking, skiing, sailing, stargazing and big campfires, exploring beaches, mountains, deserts, and spending time with a group of friends lovingly called the "Big Dogs". These friendships continued for over 30 years. He was a big kid at heart, and was often the life of the party; with his German heritage, he always loved a good beer. He was a devoted dad, supporting his kids in Cub Scouts, swimming, track and cross country and many outdoor and travel adventures. His interests included anything science or history related, news, politics and current events - he would love to discuss any and all. He loved science fiction, reality TV, YouTube, classic cars, 60s and 70s music. His antics and sense of humor were legendary, as was his devotion to family and country. Most recently his friends and family will recall his love of birds, he fed dozens of them daily. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to any of the following: Hospice of Petaluma, any needy animal rescue or shelter, or the Audubon society. Special thanks to the nurses at Hospice of Petaluma - Teresa, Sherry, Shelly, Kelly, Angie, Patty and Arlene. Their care was phenomenal and support of our family was much appreciated. A memorial service and celebration of Dennis's well-lived life will be announced at a later time this summer.
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Published Online in the Press Democrat from June 14 to June 17, 2014