Denis K. Berube ’61

It is with deep reverence that we announce the passing of Denis Kurt Berube, devoted husband, father, brother, and friend. Denis passed away peacefully on January 2nd, 2024, in his home surrounded by family.

Born on July 26th, 1942, in Holyoke, Massachusetts, to George and Evelyn Berube, Denis was the embodiment of curiosity, determination, and integrity. He spent his youth steeped in the delights of childhood farm life. He loved to share the stories of fly fishing in the Deerfield River, woods filled with adventure, the rewarding work of farm chores, and life among his beloved family and pets.

Denis came into the world with an incredible capacity to be both perfectly present in almost any moment and laser focused on the journey ahead. He held the innate wisdom of knowing that one must be solidly planted in the now in order to reap the fruits of the future. He always knew that he wanted to be an engineer and saw precisely how to get there. Years before he would become a teenager, he began saving money and planning how a farm boy of humble means would attend a local elite prep school. With the help of his dedicated parents and his own steadfastness he got himself into Williston Academy in Easthampton, Massachusetts where he relished life as a boarding student, tenacious athlete, and rising young man. He gave tirelessly to this institution throughout his life as he walked his two daughters through their own Williston journeys and continued to offer his time, money, and passion to help further develop the school long after he and his children had graduated.

From Williston Denis went on to study Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and to earn his Masters Degree in Electrical Engineering from Union College. He received his executive training at GE Crotenville. And so began an extraordinarily rich life that would take him places most can only dream of. He traveled to nearly every corner of the world; constantly observing, learning, and enjoying. He took little for granted and truly relished in his lived experiences. From life beneath the surface in a submarine to flying at Mach speed off an aircraft carrier he truly met life with courage and commitment at every turn.

Alongside Joanna, the love of his life, he built an empire of dreams come true. They worked tirelessly together to make an enduring and meaningful impact on the world at large through business, philanthropy, education, and development. 40 years of devout perseverance, understanding, commitment and love took them on grand adventures that will carry on beyond time and space.

Hard work was an enduring side of Denis, matched equally by his ability to play hard; a life motto that he held to his dying day. He had a lifelong affair with his ability to truly appreciate the moment and a patience for enjoyment that was unmatched. These traits made him a worthy Bridge opponent, a skilled athlete, an avid sports fan, and a voracious reader. From the black diamond ski slopes and most competitive golf courses all the way to the pickleball courts and nearly everything in between, he was a contender. He never met a sport that didn’t delight him, and he seemed to be good at them all. He loved science fiction and quantum theory, blue cheese and potato chips, ice cream, and puzzles. He also really loved naps. It was the simple pleasures among the luxury that he savored the most.

Denis spent his final 20 years building a life where he could fall easily into peace and pleasure on an Island and in a home that he adored. Eternally a masterful creator, he built his second architectural masterpiece on Kiawah Island, a seaside retreat that provided him his greatest reward – simplicity. He loved everything about the nature and ease of life in Kiawah. His day was full if he witnessed the sunrise and the waves crash. He was once an avid sailor, and the ocean always called him home.

Denis is survived and celebrated by his adoring wife, Joanna Lau, daughter Caitlin Berube ’13, daughter Blythe Berube Rowan ’92, Son-in-Law, Dr. Christopher Rowan, grandsons, Riley Rowan and Teo Rowan, brother Charles Berube, and many nieces and nephews.

Denis will be cremated, and his family will make a pilgrimage to honor his life at his most sacred places. We ask that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Kidney Cancer Foundation and in place of a public celebration of life, what a beautiful tribute it would be to do something you truly enjoy today and raise a glass to him.

6 thoughts on “Denis K. Berube ’61”

  1. I am sorry to learn of the death of Dennis Berube who was a classmate and a friend. We were not especially close, but he was the type of boy whom everyone liked and respected, not a ‘grandstander’ or given to trumpeting his own accomplishments, but a person you could trust and listened to whether in the classroom or dorm room conversations or at a table in dining hall. He was very much what Williston Academy was about in the late 1950s and ’60s, a New Englander, a boy from a good middle class family with values that reflected what had made the country preeminent and respected worldwide, somebody who took education seriously but retained a sense of humor and openminded curiosity about a wide range of things and a concern and respect for all those around him.

  2. So very sorry to learn of Denis passing he was indeed a wonderful person and family man. My condolences to you Joanna and his daughters.

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