Dennis Dwayne Arndt
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BELT —Dennis Dwayne Arndt, 75, of Belt, died on Tuesday, April 29, 2014 after a brief illness.
A Celebration of Dad's life will be held on Saturday, May 10, 2014 at 1:00 p.m. at the Belt Park Pavilion in Belt.
Dennis was born on March 1, 1939 at the family home in Clinton, Minnesota to Walter and Goldie Arndt. He graduated from Bismarck High School in North Dakota in 1957 where he was on the championship basketball and baseball teams. Dad was drafted to play baseball in the Majors. He said they weren't going to pay him enough money to play baseball, so he went to college instead. Dad received scholarships to play basketball and baseball at Bismarck Junior College and graduated in 1959. He then went on to Concordia University in Minnesota where he again was on scholarship to play basketball and baseball. He graduated from Concordia in 1961 with a degree in Education.
After graduation, Dad taught for one year in Belfield, North Dakota. In 1962, Dad moved to Great Falls, Montana where he was hired by the Great Falls Public Schools. He taught PE and Health for the next 35 years in Great Falls, with all but a couple of those years at East Junior High. Dad also coached football, basketball, and track every one of those 36 years. His football and basketball teams won several City championships. In 1998, Dad figured it was time to retire when they were going to start making him put grades in a computer and he was starting to teach the grandkids of the kids from his first couple of classes. Dad had what was come to be known as the "teacher voice." It was the voice he used when he was teaching and coaching and if you heard it at any other time, it was not going well for you at that time.
Shortly after moving to Great Falls, Dad joined the Montana Officials Association as a referee for football and basketball. Dad reffed junior high, high school and college games. In 1988, Dad retired from reffing as Jessica and Jeffrey were both active in sports at Belt and his gym time switched from being on the floor to being in the stands. During the summers, Dad was a Hail Adjuster travelling around Central Montana inspecting grain fields for hail damage. Dad retired from that sometime around 2000.
Dad was a confirmed bachelor until June 1973 when he married Trudy Tabor in Great Falls. In 1975, after winning the city league volleyball championship, Jessica Lee was born. One of the first things Dad said to Mom when he saw her for the first time was "thank God she didn't get my nose!" In 1977, Jeffrey Dennis made it a family of four. Earlier that day, Dad made a hole in one while golfing with some of his buddies. It was no stretch that Jessica and Jeffrey would later be involved in basketball, football, track, baseball and softball. It helped that we had the best coach living under the same roof. We spent the majority of our early childhood in a gym, either at East or various other gyms watching Dad coach or ref. In 1978, Mom and Dad bought their dream house just outside of Belt on the creek in Armington. In 1986, Mom and Dad divorced and he was a confirmed bachelor once again. Dad rarely missed one of our games from junior high through high school at Belt. All those years of coaching and being a ref taught Dad the ability to wait for that one moment in a gym when it was quiet to let either of us know when we had made a "dumb head" move. He also used that same ability to let the officials know when they had missed a call or made a bad call. On more than one occasion, Jeffrey and I had officials in the middle of a basketball game tell us how much they enjoyed having Dad in the gym. Jeffrey and I got used to Dad knowing somebody everywhere we went, near and far. Dad was an avid Belt Husky fan even after we graduated from high school and still went to basketball and football games right up until he got sick.
Dad enjoyed playing softball, basketball, and volleyball on several teams in the city leagues, golf at the local golf courses and bowling. His gardening and canning skills were widely known. He gave away just as much corn, tomatoes, and cucumbers as he kept. His tomato juice, dill pickles, hot pickles and hot beans are famous among his friends. He took great pleasure in growing a very large and successful garden in a "rock pile." Dad and Kleffner had many a garden bet to see who had the biggest or the most. Dad spent many an afternoon and night playing Pinochle with Warehime's, Houseman, Dawson and many others. Dad was the Camp Cook for the Smith River Crew every year. Then there was the annual Golf Tour with Bob Schreiner and any number of people that they would pick up along the way. Dad and Schriener would golf a couple of times a week in Fort Benton and again with anyone that wanted to go. Dad always made sure to remind Schreiner that he never once beat him. Dad was always an early riser, 4 AM, by most peoples thinking that was still the middle the night! When Dad was still teaching he would meet the coffee crew on Saturday mornings with Tonto, Pat and Kleffner. After he retired, Dad became the Ring leader for the "Coffee Clatch" every morning, every day at 5 AM, first at the Eastside with Burley, then later at the Moon. You could set your clock by Dad's routine. Dad was also a member of the famous "Chain Gang" for Husky football games after Jeffrey graduated.
Dad truly loved being around kids whether it was as a coach, teacher, ref, a cheerleader for all of Jessica and Jeffrey's teammates and honorary Dad to all their friends. He was always more than willing to give pointers or help any kid that played any game. Dad was happy being all those things to all of those thousands of kids. He was the proudest of being Jessica's Daddy and Jeffrey's Pa and of adults that they had become. Having said that, of all the title's and nickname's he had, the one that made Dad the happiest and proudest was being Papa Denny to his grandson Karson and granddaughter's Markki and Parker.
He is survived by daughter Jessica (Bob); son Jeffrey (Jacqui); grandkids Karson, Markki, and Parker; brothers Kirk Arndt of ND and Irvin Arndt of CA, sisters Myrna Holden, Vonnie Voegele, and Corine Winkler of ND; several nieces and nephews; great nieces and nephews; last but not least his dog Murphy; and barn cats Spanky and Barney.
Dennis was preceded in death by his parents, Walt & Goldie, and brother, Wally.
A donation will be made to Belt Schools to continue to support kids in their educational and athletic achievements.
Condolences for the family may be posted online at www.schniderfuneralhome.com. SCHNIDER FUNERAL HOME
Schnider Funeral Home
1510 13th Street South
Great Falls, MT 59405-4501
Published in Great Falls Tribune on May 4, 2014