Denis's Story

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Denis John Kigin, born in North Mankato, Minnesota on April 26, 1923, passed away peacefully on August 24, 2017, surrounded by his loving family. Denis (Denny) is preceded in death by his loving wife, Helen Harty Kigin, his parents Leo and Theresa Huesmann Kigin, and his brothers Jerome (Jerry) Kigin and Thomas (Tom) Kigin. He was 94 years young. His is survived by his four children, Colleen Mary Kigin (Swampscott, Massachusetts), Timothy John Kigin (wife, Toni Hembree-Kigin, children, Molly Jean, Sean Denis and Patrick Connor, Chandler, Arizona), Kathleen Kigin McGough (husband, Steve McGough, children, Katherine Elise and Bridget Eileen, Chandler, Arizona) and Patricia Denise Kigin (Scottsdale, Arizona). His children and grandchildren were the pride of his life. He was also the loving uncle of 12 nephews and nieces, and numerous grand nephews and nieces. Denny served in the United States Marine Corps during World War II and the Korean Conflict. He graduated from Navy Flight School (Pensacola) prior to being commissioned into the Corps. He flew fixed wing aircraft (B-25s, known as PBJs in the Corp) in WWII and Sikorsky helicopters during the Korean Conflict. He was granted an honorable discharge in 1958 at the rank of Captain after having served in the Reserves. Someone asked him which aircraft he preferred---he said, "It doesn't matter, as long as you can fly." He did love to fly. Denny and Helen were engaged during WWII and married on June 7, 1947 in Mankato, MN. They celebrated their 69th anniversary in June of 2016, before Helen's passing in September of that year. After their wedding, Helen and Denny lived in the barracks of Mankato State College, (now Minnesota State University) where Denis earned a BS through the GI Bill. He was so appreciative of the invaluable benefits of the GI Bill, stating he never would have been able to attend college without the support of this program. He was able to then attend University of Wisconsin -Stout and the University of Missouri, Columbia, earning a Masters and Ed. D. through the same program. He recently wrote an article for the Friendship Village Newsletter about the value of the GI Bill to those who served during WWII and the Korean Conflict. Denny taught at Faribault High School in Faribault, Minnesota, University of Missouri at Columbia, and at Arizona State University (College of Engineering, Division of Technology). At ASU, he served as Dean of Continuing Education, Director of Summer Sessions and Coordinator of Commencement. He retired from ASU in 1988 and was designated Dean Emeritus in 1989. Denny held numerous national leadership positions, including program consultant to the President's Conference on Occupational Safety in 1962, and planning committee member for the 1963 and 1967 National Safety Conferences. He served a three year term on the National Commission on Safety Education and served on the Board of Directors for the National Safety Council 1967-69. He also held numerous leadership positions for the North Central Conference and Western Association of Summer Session Administrators, and the Council on Extension and Continuing Education of the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges. He was a national expert on liability in school shop accidents, and published a book on this topic. He was also very active as a volunteer, chairing events such as the Arizona Heart Ball, delivering meals for St Vincent de Paul during holidays, and was past President of both the Tempe Kiwanis and the ASU Retirees Association. Denny would tell you the best parts of life were his family, his service to his country, his friends, travel and golf. The Memorial Mass will be held September 9, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. at the Church of the Resurrection, 3201 S Evergreen Rd, Tempe, AZ 85282. In lieu of flowers, donations welcomed to Hospice of the Valley or St Vincent de Paul Society. Condolences may be made at www.qohcfh.org. Arrangements entrusted to Queen of Heaven Catholic Funeral Home, Mesa, AZ.
Published on September 3, 2017
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