In memoriam: Dennis Catrell, 1936-2016

[ Editor's note: An earlier version of this story misspelled Dennis Catrell's name in the headline. It has been fixed. This obituary was first published online on the website for Westford Funeral Home. ]

Dennis Catrell passed away peacefully at home, at age 79, and joins with the angels. Dennis was the sixth of seven children born to Royal and Hilda (Brown) Catrell in Flint, Michigan. The family spent summers up north on the Au Sable River at a remote cabin that fostered his love of nature and the joy of working with his hands. 

Dennis loved learning. He graduated from the University of Michigan and attained a Master’s degree in theatre at Northern IIlinois University. He joined the faculty of Western Washington University in 1966 in the Dept. of Speech and Hearing. He was instrumental in the formation of the College of Fine and Performing Arts; he was a mainstay of the Summer Stock theatre program for many years. He enjoyed working with students to stage plays and theatrical events that expressed artful creativity. Dennis was awarded the title of professor emeritus upon his retirement in 1999. That year, he also received the Mayor’s Award for artistic achievement. 

In his retirement, he continued to direct plays at the Bellingham Theatre Guild and participated in unique theatre projects such as the Chuckanut Radio Hour, the Midnight Mystery Players, and one-person plays. Dennis was particularly honored to participate with the Lummi Nation to produce new plays written and produced by local artists. The delight of his retirement years was the laughter and love of his grandchildren. 

Dennis was preceded in death by his parents and five of his siblings. He is survived by his wife Janice, son Devin (Rachael), daughter Andrea (Joseph Mueller), grandchildren Kira, Maple and Waldron, sister Patricia (Jackie) Atkinson, and many loving relatives and friends. A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 28, 2016 at Garden St. United Methodist Church.