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'A True Gentleman': Ferndale Mourns Loss of Longtime Resident and Volunteer

Dennis Hoeppner, 72, died early Monday morning.

The community is mourning the loss of a longtime Ferndale resident known for his devotion to his wife and family, his storytelling and manners and his willingness to do "anything for anyone."

Dennis Hoeppner died at his home at 5:30 a.m. Monday. He was 72.

Visitation will be held from 2-8 p.m. on Jan. 30 at Spaulding and Curtin Funeral Directors. More details here.

Heoeppner was diagnosed with cancer in the past and learned in the fall that his condition was worsening, said former Ferndale mayor Craig Covey, a friend of Hoeppner's.

"Dennis was just so special," said Ferndale Seniors President Jeannie Davis. "He always had a story to tell there was always a sparkle in his eye."

Hoeppner and his wife, Marty Hoeppner, had been involved with the seniors group for the past eight or nine years, helping with Meals on Wheels and other programs.

First and foremost, Hoeppner was a loving husband, Davis said. "He was very, very, very devoted to his wife," she said.

Those who knew him also said he was a gentleman. "Somebody commented today that, you know, he was always a true gentleman," Davis said. "He would stand when you came in the room, he would open the door."

After retiring from his longtime job with Ford Motor Company, Hoeppner started getting more involved in the community, Covey said.

"Rather than quietly retiring and going south and siting in the sun or playing golf he devoted a huge amount of time to the community, especially the seniors group," he said. "He just was a people-oriented person."

Hoeppner was a delegate for the Oakland County Democratic Party and frequently spoke at Ferndale City Council meetings. He had been named Ferndale's Citizen of the Year in 2012, Senior Citizen of the Year in 2008 and he and his wife were named King and Queen of the State Fair in 2007.

You could find Hoeppner at many community events, from the Ferndale Blues Festival to the Woodward Dream Cruise, volunteering in some way.

Hoeppner was Covey's "number one volunteer" on his political campaigns and was always eager to help, Covey said.

There is a running joke that he "went through a pair of socks" in one day going door-to-door delivering so much literature for Covey.

In return, Covey gave him a six-pack of socks as a gift at his victory party, Davis recalled.

Hoeppner also loved gossip, Davis said. "His eyes would really light up and he'd motion me at a meeting - 'Come here, come here,'" she laughed.

Davis said she has hosted many fundraising events in her backyard and she could always count on Hoeppner to show up early to help decorate and get ready. "He was always at the fundraisers," she said.

He will be very missed by many, Davis said. "Everybody I called today cried," she said, noting that the group has had three other deaths this month. "Nobody was as upset as they were today to get this call. Everybody liked Dennis."

Jill Manchik, Ferndale's recreation director, knew Hoeppner well and said he and his wife were always the first ones to sign up for any volunteer opportunity. "They would drop everything," she said.

"He would do anything for anyone," Manchik said.

Dennis and Marty Hoeppner shared many stories and memories in this recent interview with the Ferndale 115 News, published on Jan. 21.

Hoeppner is survived by his wife, his children Denise (William) Cox, Katherine Welsh and Michael (Tamara); his brother, Douglas (Joan); five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Did you know Dennis Hoeppner? Share your memories in the comments section below.

Dave Coulter January 29, 2013 at 02:36 PM
Dennis enriched our city and the lives of everyone he touched. He faced his last challenge like he lived his life, with optimism and courage, and he will be sorely missed. He was passionate about the need for people to vote, and I hope that's how our residents ultimately honor him.
Sherri (Roe) Olson January 30, 2013 at 01:43 AM
I'm very saddened to hear this news. My heart goes out to Marty & the rest of the family. We adopted our 2 papillons from them in 2001 & 2005. Every time we'd walk the dogs down their street they'd get so excited cause they knew we were going by their house for a possible visit if they were home. Dennis - I know Glory & the rest of your dogs that have gone to heaven before you are waiting to greet you with wagging tails! Thoughts & Prayers, Love Sherri, John, Jesse Olson (& Missy)
Salvatore Monella August 23, 2013 at 02:28 PM
Wow! Came across this obit by accident doing a family online search. The man described is totally foreign to me. Granted I never saw much of my uncle after his extreme homophobic reactions to both his sister and brother after they both came out. I do remember though that the dogs they bred were put ahead of any humans needs. I guess anyone can change

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