Dennis Paul Bergvall was born March 25, 1955 in Havre, Montana to Richard and Ruth (Frandsen) Bergvall, the oldest of four children. Dennis graduated from Havre High School in 1973 where he excelled as a student leader and debater. He received his bachelor’s degree in history from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington in 1978, where he was active in the Sigma Chi fraternity.
In 1981, Dennis married Pattie (Ross) Meis in Havre, and they were blessed with three children. They later divorced. On July 22, 1995 Dennis married JoAnn (Jo) Nickel in Caldwell, Idaho. Dennis has been a loving husband to Jo for 21 years, a loving father to Mette Mosquera (Joe), Peder (Lindsay) and Anders (Tim Hunt) and a proud grandfather (Pop Pop) to Max, Christian and Dylan.
Dennis is also survived by his three sisters, Vicky Bergvall (Craig Waddell), Lynn Jurenka (Ted) and Jackie May (Greg) and his brother-in-law, Jerry Nickel, as well as several nieces and nephews: Ben Waddell; Cody and Tarah Jurenka; and Curtis (Kassondra), Jeremy (Heather) and Kevin May; Jeremy Wynia, Samantha Harrison, and Kelly Ross. He was preceded in death by his parents, his parents-in-law Ellen Jean and Norman Nickel, his brother-in-law Don Nickel, and his former wife.
Dennis’s long and distinguished career began with short stints in banking, real estate, newspapers, in the car business with his father and as the secretary of the Republican Party in Montana. He then found his niche in college fundraising and student recruitment, serving 33 years in higher education, which took him across the U.S. and to 23 countries all over the world.
Dennis spent six years as Director of Planned Giving at his alma mater, Whitman College; 14 years at the College of Idaho (six years as Dean of Development and eight years as Dean of Admissions), in Caldwell; three years as Vice President of Enrollment at Alma College in Michigan; and eight years as CEO of the Citadel Foundation at the historic Citadel military college in Charleston, South Carolina. He reluctantly retired from his position as Vice President for Advancement at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon after three years.
Dennis believed in service to others. Dennis was a board member for the Salem Interfaith Hospitality Network, and was also an active member of Rotary International. He and Jo were members of the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Salem, Oregon. In Charleston, South Carolina Dennis was a member of the Chancel choir at Bethel United Methodist Church, and he also was instrumental in the fundraising efforts to restore the historic sanctuary.
Dennis was an avid fan of history: he floated the Missouri River in Montana where he traced the route of Lewis and Clark, and he enjoyed researching his Scandinavian heritage. He and Jo hosted numerous friends and family who enjoyed their gracious hospitality, including tours of the historic Charleston area and wine tours in Walla Walla and the Willamette Valley.
In September of 2014, Dennis was diagnosed with a rare sarcoma. He remained strong and positive throughout the course of his treatments, with a smile that never faded. He ultimately lost his battle with cancer on May 22, 2017, surrounded by his loving family and sisters; his sense of humor lifted all around him until the end. He was 62 years old.
The burial will be at the Canyon Hill Cemetery in Caldwell, Idaho on Saturday, June 3, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. The funeral service will follow at the Centennial Amphitheater, located on the campus of the College of Idaho at 11:30 a.m. with a reception immediately after. A memorial service will be held in Salem, Oregon on Monday, June 5, 2017 at the Virgil T. Golden Funeral Home at 3:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in Dennis’s memory to the Salem Interfaith Hospitality Network, the Northwest Sarcoma Foundation. Additionally, at Dennis’s request a fund has been established at the College of Idaho to support campus ministry’s student mission trips.
Condolences may be shared with the family at www.dakanfuneralchapel.com