Dennis Louie Zak, age 76, passed away peacefully surrounded by his family on Friday, the 21st of May 2021 at Shands Hospital in Gainesville, FL after a 50 day battle against insurmountable odds with Covid.
Dennis is survived by his wife of 30 years, Karen L’Heureux Zak of the Villages, FL; his children, Chad of Burnsville, MN, Christina Gregg (Kelly) of Tomball, TX, Courtney Clark (Jake) of Lebanon, TN, Tyler (Kathryn) of Orlando, FL and Ryan (Olivia) of Fort Worth, TX; his grandchildren, Joseph (Lea), Jenny, and Olivia; and his great-grandchildren, Giana, Dominic, Caleb, Roman and Briella. He is also survived by his sister, Shirley Paulson (Clarks Grove, MN) and brother, Gary (Albert Lea, MN); many nieces and nephews; and many friends considered family.
He was preceded in death by his parents Louie and Anna Zak (Owatonna, MN) and sister Sharon Bauldry.
Dennis was born on a cold Minnesota day, January 20, 1945 in Owatonna, MN the second child of Louie and Anna Zak. He grew up on a farm near Geneva, MN. Not wanting to milk cows twice a day, 365 days a year he graduated from Ellendale High School in 1963 and pursued a BSc degree at the University of Minnesota (Morris); a Masters degree at the University of Minnesota (ST Paul); and graduated with a PhD in Food Science from the Pennsylvania State University in 1973. He began a long and storied career in Research and Development with the M&M/Mars Company in Hackettstown, NJ. His work took him from the Amazon in South America working on developing the perfect cocoa beans to the Governor’s Palace in Austria as a guest lecturer in confectionery processes and all over the United States. He made many contributions to the M&M’s product line including being a patent holder for the Peanut Butter M&M product. Dennis retired from M&M in 2003 and began consulting to the confectionery industry with significant projects in South Korea and China. With retirement he took up the game of golf which he loved for the challenge and to be outside enjoying the sunshine.
Dennis had boundless love for his wife and children, family and friends. He was a devoted father, deeply involved in his children’s lives, from coaching baseball and football for his sons; to helping with school projects; driving lessons; and in their adult years their home projects consultant and career counselor. Many of his children’s friends considered him a second father or mentor. He and Karen were married at Trinity Episcopal Church and found their spiritual home there for over 25 years. He was involved with the Vestry, Youth Group, and various committees over the years. He truly felt his children were life’s greatest gift.
A Celebration of Life service will be held on Wednesday, May 26, 2021 at Baldwin Brothers
3990 E. SR 44, Wildwood, FL from 1pm-3pm. All are welcome to attend and celebrate Dennis’ life.
A Memorial Service will be held in Pennsylvania at Trinity Episcopal Church Buckingham on Saturday June 26, 2021.