Dennis Criswell

Obituary of Dennis Theodore Criswell

Dennis Theodore Criswell passed away on July 18, 2023, at Peppi’s House TMC Hospice at the age of 79 in Tucson, AZ after a short battle with lung cancer.

Dennis was born on October 4, 1943, in Sioux City, IA to Ervin and Betty (Nelson) Criswell.  He attended schools in Sioux City and Le Mars, IA, graduating in 1961. He attended Wayne State College in Wayne, NE for one year, transferring to Eastern New Mexico University (ENMU). While at ENMU, Dennis served as the first Consul of the AAX Zeta Sigma – Sigma Chi Chapter and a founder of the Alpha Alpha Chi Chapter seeking to become Sigma Chi’s. It was here he met Carol Criswell, the first ‘Sweetheart of Sigma Chi’. They were married on August 2, 1964. Dennis was a 60-year member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity at ENMU. He graduated from Eastern New Mexico State University with a Bachelor of Science and a Master’s Degree in Education, Political Science and Government & Education.  

Early in his career, Dennis found his calling in education first at Springlake-Earth High School in Earth, TX, then in his ‘original’ hometown of Sioux City, IA at Bishop Heelan Catholic High School.  Through his passion and mentorship, he guided his students to an outstanding seven consecutive Iowa state debate championships, leaving an indelible mark on both their academic and personal growth. Dennis’s dedication and commitment to his students earned him their admiration and respect, and his influence extended far beyond the classroom.   

He transitioned from education to marketing in 1983, working in several positions at various electric cooperatives, eventually relocating to Tucson, AZ in 1988, where he would work for Arizona Electric Power Cooperative (AEPCO) until his retirement.  During his tenure at AEPCO, Dennis played a pivotal role in establishing the Touchstone Energy Cooperative. As a founding member, Dennis was instrumental in shaping the cooperative’s vision and guiding principles. Through his work on the Tucson Open Golf Tournament, Dennis worked closely with the Tucson Conquistadores. Through his passion for golf and community engagement, Dennis was recognized as an honorary member of the Tucson Conquistadores, a prestigious honor reserved for those who have made significant contributions to the community and have positively impacted the lives of others.

After retirement, Dennis pursued his passion for golf and found solace on the green fairways of the Rolling Hills Country Club. A dedicated golfer, he cherished the camaraderie of his fellow club members and the serenity the sport offered him. His dedication to the sport of golf extended beyond his membership of the Rolling Hills Country Club. He was actively involved in the Arizona First Tee program, where he generously shared his passion for the game with young golfers, inspiring them to develop not only their golfing skills but also their character and life skills.

Another passion after retirement was to give back to his ala mater, ENMU. He remained actively involved in the university’s community. He served as a valuable member of the ENMU Alumni Board. As a member of the Alumni Board, Dennis contributed his time, expertise, and resources to support various initiatives, events, and programs aimed to enhance the educations experience of current students and foster a sense of belonging to the university’s alumni network. He also served on the ‘Housing Board’ for the Sigma Chi Chapter.

Dennis is survived by his wife of 58 years, Carol Criswell (Compton); his daughters Kelly (Bobby) Garcia of Midland, TX and Kristi (Ward) Franz of Dakota Dunes, SD; grandchildren Ryan Criswell-Morse of Johnstown, CO, Emily (Josh) Taylor of Lee’s Summit, MO, and Erika Eckfeld (Matt De Vane) of Reno, NV; and sister Katie Steffen of Grand Rapids, MI.  He is preceded in death by his parents and sister Carla Scales.

A Celebration of Life event will take place in Tucson, AZ on August 5th, 2023, at the Niblick Lounge - Rolling Hills Country Club from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m.  A Celebration of Life event will take place in Sioux City, IA on September 9, 2023. Additional details will be forthcoming.

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Celebration of Life

1:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Saturday, August 5, 2023
Niblick Lounge - Rolling Hills Country Club
8900 E 29th St.
Tucson, Arizona, United States
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