Denise Loftus Garn, age 64, passed away on May 10, 2021 at Faith Hospice Trillium Woods, Byron Center, of complications from kidney disease and metastatic cancer. Denise was born September 18, 1956, in Hastings Michigan to Patrick J. and Iris M. (nee Horsley) Loftus. She attended St. Rose of Lima and Hastings Public Schools, graduating with the class of 1974. Denise attended classes at Davenport School of Business and was employed in clerical services with E.W. Bliss, Thornappple Valley Meats, and Metalforming Equipment before joining Floral View Cemetery (currently Park Lawn Corporation) in 1996 in Jenison. In 1984, Denise married the love of her life, Dean O. Garn, and they spent 28 years together before his passing in 2012. Denise was an active member of the National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, Hastings chapter, and the Michigan Democratic Party. Denise was compassionate about the needs of others, lending assistance in times of need and caring for others while showing unconditional love with a heart of gold. She was always the person to bake tasty treats at Christmas time and other occasions to make these events more special for everyone. She was a mother to many, helping relatives and close friends to raise several of their children during hectic times. Denise is survived by her mother, Iris Loftus of Hastings; brother, Andrew Loftus of Annapolis, Maryland; stepchildren, Rochelle (Jarrod) Simon of Martin, Sandra (David) Pallante of Georgetown, Texas, D. Scott Garn and Randall Garn of Florida; uncle, Austin Loftus of Manistique; first cousins, Stephen Loftus of Marshfield, Wisconsin, Christine, Jeff, Gary, and Colin (Cindy) Horsley, Diane Stoppa of Australia, Richard (Sofija) Potter and Sarah Potter of London, England; nieces and nephews, Dornier Loftus of Las Vegas, Nevada, Banan Loftus, Mallory Loftus, Ross Loftus, Lance Errthum, and Nolan Errthum; sister-in-law Deborah (Scott) Loftus-Errthum of Plainfield, Illinois; many step-grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and second cousins. She was preceded in death by her brother, Terrance Loftus; father, Patrick Loftus; and husband, Dean Garn. Due to Covid restrictions, a private memorial service will be held immediately. A larger memorial will be held later this year at the time of internment of ashes in Floral View Memorial Gardens to allow additional family and friends to celebrate Denise’s life. Contributions may be made to the American Diabetes Association or American Cancer Society.
I knew this day would come in the back of my mind, but I never imagined it would come this soon. I’m sure we all are feeling that Denise has left us too soon. It’s funny how sometimes things come to us at the right time. I just came upon this story, and if you’ve heard it before, please bear with me because I feel like it pertains to this feeling of sudden loss. It is told from the perspective of a veterinarian, and is titled, “Why Dogs Live Less than Humans.”
“Here’s the surprising answer of a 6-year-old child. Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog’s owners, Ron, his wife Lisa, and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.
I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn’t do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.
As we made arrangements. Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.
The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker’s family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.
The little boy seemed to accept Belker’s transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker’s death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that dogs’ lives are shorter than human lives. Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, ‘I know why.’
Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I’d never heard a more comforting explanation. It has changed the way I try and live.
He said, ‘People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life—like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?’ The six-year-old continued, ‘Well dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay for as long as we do.’”
So, perhaps Denise had learned life’s lessons and fulfilled her purpose here, so didn’t need to stay any longer. Besides, she’d been away from dad for almost 9 years. I’m thinking maybe God finally called her because he needs her help dealing with him.
After my parents split, my dad was single for quite a while before meeting Denise.
I sometimes worried that he would age alone, which seemed sad to me.
As most of you know, he was quite a character, and I believe he certainly met his match when he met Denise - his sweet babu.
They shared so many interests - attending hockey games, working together for BPW and the Democratic Party, and I think most of all, collecting things.
Besides all that, Denise inherited all of us kids and became, at least to me, the mother I needed most. I didn’t like calling her step-mom because of its negative connotation and think of her as our step-up mom instead because that is just what she did.
With a most generous heart, she cared for all of us.
What I loved most about her was her honest, practical advice.
She was smart, well-read, stubbornly independent, and wanted the best for everyone.
You could depend on her for anything.
I will always cherish our “Bucket List” trips we took together and only regret that there won’t be any more.
Denise was dearly loved by all who knew her, and although I’ll miss her with all my heart, I’m glad that she’s with our dad, and he isn’t alone anymore.
Rest in Peace sweet mom.
- Sandra Pallante
Denise, I remember meeting you for the first time. I was six and my first tooth had just fallen out. As a Brit, I loved the way you said “tooth fairy”! Years later, we became good friends, something I’m so grateful for. You’ll always be in my heart. Rest in peace, dear Denise.
- Mary Harvey
I am so very sorry for your loss. Grandma Denise was a wonderful, caring, and loving person.
- Ashley Malburg
The world lost a great person on May 10, my wife Becky and i were very sad to hear that Denise had passed, she was a good friend & classmate i remembered times when Denise would bring Jacoby over and go swimming she was a good gramma to him, and other times just to talk, or she would need something worked on, she called one winter upset, she had water going in the house so my son Tim and i went over and cleared the ice jams, she was so thoughtful she tried to pay me, that didn’t happen, but talked us into supper,im really glad she had her classmate friends to support her during the medical battles that she had, my wife and i are going to miss her deeply, but we know she’s in heaven with dean’o and that’s a huge comfort, our condolences go out to her family they are in our thoughts and prayers.
- mike & Becky Wilcox
Denise was a special gift from God to people in this world. She was kind, compassionate, loving and gracious. Denise wanted the best for everyone. A wonderful Democrat, Denise worked day and night to improve life around her. She wanted all people to be treated with respect and value. We will miss the important part that Denise played in communicating political messages with every day people. Our deepest condolences go out to her family and friends.
- Bob and Jo Bird
I will always remember you to be so kind, generous and loving…always thinking of others. I could always count on getting a birthday card every year from my Aunt Denise! Something that others may see as so small was so very BIG and special to me. We shared an anniversary of a pretty major event in both of our lives, and we would always connect and check-in with each other on that date to make sure we were both doing okay! Words cannot express how much I appreciated and loved my Aunt for this! Although my heart is heavy for myself, family and her dearest friends, I celebrate knowing that she is up in Heaven with God and those who passed before her. I hope that Aunt Denise will give my Uncle Dean a “Benny Hill” pat on his big head from me! Always in my heart!
Sending my love and prayers to all of the family at this time.
- Denise Russo-Starback