Dennis L. Updegraff passed away peacefully in his sleep on August 26, 2018. Dennis was a
resident at Royal Oak Assisted Living in Surprise, AZ. He was 69 years old at the time of his
Dennis was born to Louise and Elias Updegraff on April 12, 1949, in York County, PA. He grew
up enjoying the great outdoors, playing the drums, sharing adventures with his two younger
sisters and brother, and made lifetime memories at Camp Penn in Pennsylvania.
Upon graduating from Northeastern High School in 1967, Dennis joined the United States
Airforce. While stationed in Kansas City, MO, he met the love of his life, Lou Ketchum. Dennis
and Lou were married on Sept. 26, 1969. Dennis was sent to Vietnam, and Lou remained in MO.
Upon completion of his tour, he chose to complete his service at the Air Force Radar base in
Lakeside, MT. He always said he knew he was "Home in God's Country", when he rounded the
bend on Hwy. 93 and saw Flathead Lake.
Dennis started work as a Deputy Sheriff with the Flathead County Sheriff's Dept. in 1972. He
and Lou welcomed daughter Blaise that same year, and Raigan two years later. Dennis made sure
his girls knew about the Lord first and foremost, and secondly, how much he loved them. He
shared his love for hunting, fishing, sports, music, and the great outdoors. He was always a
patient teacher as well as their biggest fan and loudest cheerleader. Dennis was famous for
showing up to the girls' basketball games wearing a rubber pig snout, proclaiming the "Flathead
Rooter" was there and ready to cheer. No matter what activity, how busy his schedule, how far
the drive--he was always ready to support and encourage his girls to aim for the stars and give
Dennis loved to play golf and even made his own clubs. He made a set for each of the girls so he
could teach them to enjoy the game as a family. Many hours were spent on the golf course. He
enjoyed golfing with his son-in-law, Pete, and best friend Nathan Bemis. The highlight of his
golf career was hitting a hole-in-one at Northern Pines Golf Course while playing with Pete and
In 1992, Dennis earned his favorite title as "Grandpa", and welcomed granddaughter Kailee
"Little Brown Eyes". He, along with Lou doted on her from the first moment he saw her. 2000,
brought his second granddaughter Hailey, "Little Blue Eyes", and again it was simply absolute
love at first sight. All of his girls--Lou, Blaise, Raigan, Kailee, and Hailey completed his world.
In 2001, Dennis lost Lou to cancer and took on the role of "Mom" and Dad. In trying to keep
certain traditions alive such as special goodies for his granddaughters, he discovered a new
passion for cooking. The family became test subjects for recipes...some great and others
"experiments gone wrong".
After 34 years of service with the Flathead Sheriff's Dept., Dennis retired and set out to enjoy
retirement, wanting to enjoy his family and the many hobbies he loved. Dennis' life revolved
around serving the Lord, serving his community, and always being the "care-taker and
protector", our Mr. Wonderful and Man-of Steel. He was a man that believed in giving a hand up,
not a hand out, and everyone deserved a second chance until they proved otherwise. He always
tried to put people at ease and loved to make people laugh. He had an amazing sense of humor,
loved to play practical jokes, and even enlisted Lou's help to pull of some "whoppers".
Dennis will be greatly missed but our many wonderful memories of him will always bring a
smile to our faces and comfort our hearts. He has been reunited with his love Lou, and his family
and friends who have gone before. What a glorious reunion!
A celebration of Dennis' life will be held on Oct. 20th
in Surprise, AZ at the Royal Oak Home
where he resided until his passing. Dennis will then return to his beloved Montana, where his
homecoming can be shared and life celebrated amongst his many friends and family he dearly
treasured. Further details for this celebration of a life well lived will be shared at a later time.
The family asks that in lieu of flowers, please consider sending a contribution in his name to the
Bill Rice Ranch, 627 Bill Rice Ranch Rd., Murfreesboro, TN 37128. Dennis and Lou had such a
love for this Ranch as well as the Deaf Ministry and the Deaf Community. Contributions can also
be made in his name to Camp Penn P.O. Box 511, 8005 Old Forge Road, Waynesboro, PA 17268.
He would love to see this camp continue for future generations.
Dennis is survived by his daughters and their families: Blaise, Pete, & Hailey (Arizona); Raigan
(Texas); Granddaughter Kailee and great grandsons Gunner and Archer (Florida); sisters Mary
Hartz; Janet, Todd Strickhauser; brother David Updegraff and many cousins, nieces and nephews
Special thank you to Royal Oak Home, Gabriella, Florine, Oxana, and Nina for being our
"Angels on Earth", taking amazing care of Dennis and becoming forever a part of our family.