Dennis Douglas Rankin

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obit template2018-11-29T12:10:12+00:00

Dennis Douglas

Dennis Douglas Rankin

Dennis, a lifelong Wisconsin resident, passed away on January 13, 2021, after a monthlong struggle with the Coronavirus. He was born on April 26, 1937, the only son, and third child, of the late William Douglas Rankin and Lillian Marie Fowle Rankin.

Although baptized Episcopalian, Dennis was drawn to the Catholic Church during high school, leading him to convert to Catholicism at age 18. Before attending college at the University of Wisconsin, he had joined the Army with an assignment to Korea and a tour in Japan. A few years later Dennis married Penny Ann Fabinski, sharing 26 years together. Dennis was a devoted husband and proud father. He and Penny believed in the value of Catholic education, sending their two sons to private Catholic schools. He was a member of the Holy Name Society. Dennis also took pride in, and supported, the family’s foundation, especially its philanthropic work promoting the Church’s liturgical and musical traditions.

Dennis’ greatest pleasures came from spending time with family and friends. He had a keen sense of humor and a lifelong love of music, particularly barbershop and jazz. He enjoyed traveling, across the USA and internationally, with both family and close friends. Dennis loved downhill skiing since his youth, introducing his two sons to the pastime at a very early age. He enjoyed the tennis courts with his many Greendale neighbors and friends. And he was an avid golfer, relishing countless rounds with his sons and grandsons, especially when playing at his favorite course, Grant Park, whose acreage and clubhouse were donated to Milwaukee County by his mother’s family.

He had an entrepreneurial spirit, establishing two businesses and, together with Penny, an historical society in the town his ancestors settled and founded (South Milwaukee/Oak Creek) in the 1830’s. Together they oversaw the historical society’s rapid growth, including the acquisition of an historic Victorian home as its permanent headquarters and as a museum. As a lasting tribute to Dennis’ (and Penny’s) leadership and vision, the historical society continues to play an influential and vibrant role in that community half a century later.

In his later years he married Kathy Milczarski. He enjoyed spending time with her family, especially with her great-grandson Jesse, for whom he developed a fondness.

Dennis is survived by Kathy of Oak Creek, Penny of Brookfield, his sons, Scott of New Canaan, Connecticut and Washington, DC and Paul (Susan) of Wauwatosa, his three grandchildren, Daniel, Matthew (Karrisa) and Nathan, as well as his sister Bonnie (Coley) and niece Sloan (Don) Bishel, all of Camarillo, California. He will be missed by his family and many dear friends.

A burial ceremony will be held at Holy Sepulcher Cemetery today at 10:00 AM, and a Requiem Mass will be offered when it is safe to do so. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest ( or the American Heart Association.

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