Dennis Harrison

Thursday, January 7, 2021
Article Image Alt Text

Dennis Harrison, age 66, of Billings passed away on Tuesday, December 29, 2020 at St. Vincent’s Health Care in Billings.

A Life Tribute Service will be held in Glendive with Celebrant Heidi Carney officiating. Due to COVID-19, masks are encouraged. There will be a public celebration of Dennis’s life in the summer of 2021 in which everyone will be welcome to attend. Silha Funeral Home of Glendive has been entrusted with the arrangements.

Dennis was born October 16, 1954 in Glendive. He attended Dawson County High School and graduated in 1972. After high school Dennis worked for BNSF railroad as a train engineer for more than 40 years until his retirement in 2014. He married Fay Granmoe in 1977 and together they had three boys.

Life at home with Dad was always an adventure. The best of him came from his parents, Grandpa Leonard and Grandma Norma. Dad got his kind, warm heart from Grandma, his wit and likeability from Grandpa; couple that with some good looks from both and you have Dad – a prince among men. Some smile with their mouth, others with their eyes, Dad permanently smiled with both. This garnered him the fitting nickname “Hap,” as he was referred to by his childhood friends; also the name he used on his high school letterman jacket.

Dad grew up in Forest Park before moving out to a ranch on 7 Mile Drive in the late 60’s. He would run the hills and ride horses all day, causing trouble with the neighboring Schmidt kids. Dad loved horses, we could sense his affection towards riding and it was always a special treat to get on a horse with him.

As kids, growing up in Glendive, we watched Dad dedicate himself to the railroad, which meant odd, long hours and trying to catch up on sleep while at home. However, he always made time for us and made us his priority. We remember countless hours of playing catch in the front yard or shooting hoops on the driveway. As nice and calm as Dad appeared, he was also fiercely competitive. He wouldn’t let us beat him until we were actually good enough to beat him, which to this day we’re not sure ever happened. He had a killer back-tothe-basket-in-the-paint-baby-hook-shot over the left shoulder -- basically unstoppable. Dad loved sports and passed that passion on to us. He enjoyed coaching all of us boys, which led to many adventures traveling the countryside. His influence as a coach is how most of our childhood friends will remember him. He had a way about him in coaching. He could teach the game of course, but he also offered a sense of calmness through his words and by simply putting his long arm around your shoulder with a little squeeze. It made you feel like you could accomplish anything.

Dad enjoyed gardening, cooking and canning. His ribs were legendary and there was always a waiting list for his pickles and strawberry rhubarb jam. He was the best pool player in the world, just ask him and he’d let you know. It was always fun to watch him work over a pool table and carve out another victory over another unworthy opponent. He may have told a grandkid or two to “pull his finger.” That was Grandpa D. Quick-witted one liners, perfectly timed sarcasm, and an uncanny joke telling ability were all part of his skill set. His jokes were a nice mix of utterly offensive, silly and funny, but mostly very difficult to pull off. He was a wonderful dancer, both jitterbugging and as a solo free-styler. He was not above attempting an unannounced ‘worm’ at a wedding, either. One time at a dance hall in Deadwood, he asked a stranger for a dance. He told her he had a dance “punch card,” with only one punch left. It’s an admirable trait to just have fun and not care what others think, and that was personified by him perfectly on the dance floor.

In 2006, Dad made the move to Billings to finish out his career and get a fresh start on life. It has been amazing to watch his contagious personality attract a new army of friends. We can’t tell you how many people refer to Dad as their brother, their second Dad or their Best Friend. He genuinely cared about what others were saying. He brightened up any room he walked into. He had the incredible gift to connect with anyone that crossed his path.

While in Billings he met his longtime girlfriend, Christy, and her son David. Though never married, he considered them family and loved them both. Over the years, he enjoyed spending time on their family ranch near Forsyth. The ranch served as a place of solitude, his happy place.

In closing, here’s a toast to you Dad; a toast Dad used often:

“There are good ships and wood ships,

Ships that sail the sea,

But the best ships are friendships,

May they always be!”

We love you Dad!

“There is sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.”

He was preceded in death by his parents, Leonard and Norma Harrison.

He is survived by his sons, Bryce (Lezlee), Ty and Lance (Britny); sister, Denise; girlfriend, Christy Bierlein and her son, David (Marni); six grandchildren, Jane, Blake, Taycee, Kaysen, Kolbee and Karter; and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews, who were all so very close to him.

Remembrances and condolences may be shared with the family at: