November 15, 1942 - February 27, 2024


On November 15th, 1942, Dennis Gapinski was born to proud parents Frank and Bernice (Holovnia) Gapinski. On the same day, they also welcomed Dennis’ twin brother, David. Dennis’ early years involved working on the family farm with his five brothers near the town of Gilman, MN. On the farm, Dennis built an incredible work ethic and learned how to tinker, invent, and fix.

As a member of his 4-H club, Dennis impressed judges and fellow competitors with his remote-controlled lawn mower and robotic arm in competitions. While college opportunities were offered to him, his sense of duty to his family led him to remain on the family farm, working with his father on farm operations and carpentry projects.

One of the carpentry projects Dennis worked on was at Benton Co-op Telephone, where he found a box of telephones that the company determined were unfixable. Dennis asked to take one home to tinker with. The next day, he brought it back, fixed, and was offered a job. He worked there for several years where he was greatly appreciated for his keen ability to solve problems.

Dennis was a man of unwavering faith, making it a priority to attend Mass every Sunday. As faithful as Dennis was, he was often distracted at church by the sight of Yvonne. He would try to speak with her after Mass, but she was too quick out the door. Eventually, he caught up with Yvonne at her brother’s gas station in Gilman and asked her out in December of 1972.

Serving his country was also something Dennis was compelled to do, as he voluntarily enlisted in the U.S. Army National Guard. He served his country with honor for 20 years in the 47th Infantry Division, earning the rank of Major. After his years of service, he was an active member of the American Legion Post 350 in Upsala.

Dennis and Yvonne were united in marriage on September 22, 1973 in Gilman and began their life together in Upsala, where Dennis was the manager of Upsala Co-op Telephone. They were blessed with five loving children: Andrea, Eric, Aaron, Benjamin, and Adam. The family lived in Upsala for 33 years. Dennis supported his community by producing and recording videos of many musical/theatrical performances and athletic events.

In the mid-80s, Dennis installed a fiber optic interactive television network that allowed students in rural schools to connect to each other and colleges, dramatically expanding class offerings for high school students. In recognition of Dennis’ work, Governor Rudy Perpich declared that September 14th, 1988 would be celebrated as Dennis Gapinski Day in the state of Minnesota.

In 2015, Dennis continued to follow his passion of technology and mechanical work as an engine rework technician at Arctic Cat. He loved dissecting, diagnosing and repairing engines. The camaraderie of his co-workers was something Dennis truly cherished.

Every problem was a puzzle to Dennis, and he loved solving puzzles. The size of a project did not matter to him; when he was involved, he devoted his mind, heart, and soul to it. He spent hours creating extravagant Valentine’s Day boxes for his kids, designed and built a skeeball game and wind machine for a post-prom party, constructed oodles of loon-themed planters, and melted cans to cast customized aluminum parts for his many projects. On top of an old Volkswagen chassis, he built a gigantic telephone that he drove in parades. He made rosaries for his grandchildren and First Communion classes. His most ambitious project was to realize his lifelong dream by building a yellow, single-seat experimental helicopter, which he loved to work on and show his progress to anyone who visited.

Dennis dearly loved his seven grandchildren: Mia, Zach, Eddie, Isaac, Noah, Nora, and Felix. He loved attending their activities, and every visit to Grandpa and Grandma’s house concluded with Dennis giving them a treat, usually a can of Pringles for the road. And if their parents said it was okay, they could have two.

To say Dennis will be missed immensely is an understatement.

Dennis’ family would like to thank the amazing staff of the St. Cloud Hospital, especially the oncology nurses, for their loving care for Dennis and his family.

Dennis was preceded in death by his parents, Frank and Bernice (Holovnia), and brothers Sylvester, Richard, and Eugene.

Dennis is survived by his wife Yvonne (Helmin); children Andrea (Christian) Werden, Eric, Aaron (Angie), Ben (Leah), Adam; seven grandchildren; and brothers, David (Jean) and Thomas (JoAnn).

A visitation will be held at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Sauk Rapids from 2-6 pm on Sunday, March 3rd and a funeral Mass at 11 am on Monday, March 4th. As a way of honoring Dennis’ memory the family asks that you find a way to teach someone. Teach someone how to make Jell-O, change their oil, multiply fractions or tie a trucker’s hitch. Capture the spirit of Dennis by challenging yourself to stretch your imagination, learn a new skill and pass it on. This would be a perfect tribute to the generosity and love that Dennis shared with the world.

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