Dennis W. Lum
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Steamboat Springs resident Dennis W. Lum passed away peacefully on Sunday, July 7, 2019, at the UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center at the age of 77 due to complications of vascular disease. In his life and his death, he was surrounded with the love of many family members and friends.

Born in San Francisco, Dennis spent his early years in northern California and moved to Reno, Nevada, in 1954 where he graduated from Reno High School in 1959. A long-time professor of Sociology at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado, and a part time instructor of Sustainability Studies at Colorado Mountain College in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Dennis had an amazing love of books and knowledge. He was a voracious reader of important works in many fields including literature, the arts, politics, economics, history, food, culture, philosophy, native wisdom, and environmental and social issues. He also read many works of fiction and was a frequent user of the Bud Werner and the Colorado Mountain College libraries where he enjoyed talking with library staff and recommending books. Dennis dedicated his influential teaching career to helping his students develop a sense of empathy and a commitment to action for a more just and sustainable world.

Dennis created community by developing lasting bonds with people wherever he walked in life, whether that be to the grocery store or bank or as he undertook his professional and civic work. He encouraged people to be their best selves, and the relationships he built also made his own life rich, deep, and satisfying. Throughout his life, Dennis was a poet, a social justice activist, an incredible cook of multiethnic foods, a politically engaged citizen, an avid fisherman, a lover of gardens and the outdoors, a sports enthusiast, a poker player, and an engaging conversationalist. He had an infectious sense of humor and deep compassion for those facing hurt and injustice.

As a young man, Dennis enlisted in the Air Force and later in the Peace Corps where he did work with indigenous people on Palawan Island, speaking in their native language of Tagalog. Dennis earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in History and his Master of Arts degree in Government from the University of Nevada. He also earned his Master of Arts degree in Sociology and completed his doctoral studies in Sociology at the University of California San Diego where he was a Chancellor's Fellow, a UC Regents Fellow, and a Leopold Schepp Fellow. During his years at UC San Diego, he also received several additional scholarships and awards to support his academic work.

Dennis was preceded in death by his mother Annabelle Hong Rutherford, his father Stanley E. Rutherford, and his brother Stanley Rutherford II. He is survived by his wife Tina Evans, his daughters Kristen Lum (Robby Robison) and Stacey Lum (Jason Curran), his grandsons Garran Wishon and Taz Curran, his sisters Callie Woods and Paula Meckley (Craig), his niece Courtney Hamilton, and his nephews Hunter Hamilton, Nathan Meckley (Angelique), and Justin Meckley (Mac). Dennis is also survived by many, many friends whom he embraced as family.

Celebrations of Dennis' life will be held August 11 at Chris Park near Durango, Colorado, and August 15 in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Ceremony details will soon be made available via the Yampa Valley Funeral Home website at: In lieu of sending flowers, those who cared for Dennis are encouraged to donate in his honor to the Durango Public Library in Durango, Colorado, or the Bud Werner Memorial Library in Steamboat Springs. Dennis W. Lum

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Published in Pine River Times on Jul. 11, 2019.
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7 entries
August 3, 2019
Dennis you rat! You were going to wait for me ol buddy! My entire family is shocked by your passing. To Tina our dear friend and to the kids, Kristen and Stacy and families we pray for you. Barney, Phyllis (and kids) Anderson
July 25, 2019
Please accept my heartfelt empathy on the death of Dennis Lum. He was my beloved professor. I can tell you that he touched the lives of so many students at Fort Lewis College that these many years later, I still hear his name mentioned by students who tell stories about his classes and their memories of him. I graduated in 2001. Dennis left his smile forever in my heart!
Ann Perkins-Parrott
July 19, 2019
We are saddened to learn of the death of Dennis, but grateful for his service to our nation with the Peace Corps on Palawan Island.
Our condolences,
The National Peace Corps Association
July 16, 2019
I spent some time with Dennis during our senior year at RHS. His stepfather Stan Rutherford was a professional trumpet player, working in the house band at the Mapes Hotel.My trumpet teacher was also in the band,and invited me to hang out backstage. There is a Lum elementary school here in Alameda.Every time I drive by and see the name I think of Dennis. He was always intellectually curious,bright and aware at 17.
July 16, 2019
I am so heartbroken to see this. Dennis was a great man. He was a great mentor and support to my children and I. He was a great neighbor and friend. He will be missed so deeply.
Tara Thompson
July 16, 2019
Dennis Lum was the first professor at Fort Lewis College who sparked my passion for sociology. I loved his classes, his vision of a better world, and the advocacy for action in hard times he shared with me and his other students. I will always remember his teachings, and be grateful I had the opportunity to be taught by such an inspiring soul. My heart goes out to those close to him.
Marisa Chavez
July 11, 2019
He had a humongous, infectious laugh that could be heard around the Durango neighborhood in which he lived and that couldn't help but make us all smile. :)
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