GJ businessman, adviser, musician, Denning dies at 82
Services are pending for Robert R. Denning, who fashioned a 40-year career and a lifetime avocation from well-crafted wood.
Denning died Nov. 27 at his Grand Junction home. He was 82.
Denning headed The Denning Lumber Co. for four decades and was a musician for most of his life, playing the violin in school and the viola for the Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra.
Denning, who served two terms on the board of the Ace Hardware Corp. of Oak Brook, Ill., also was a founding member of the Grand Junction symphony and served on its board, as well as with the symphony’s foundation. He also served on the boards of Mesa Federal Saving and Loan, ANB Bank and what is now Rocky Mountain Health Plans.
Denning was also a founding trustee and first chairman of the Western Colorado Community Foundation.
“His life was fully packed,” said Denning’s wife, Kate, remembering that he was known for sliding into his seat with “120 seconds to spare” at Ace Hardware board meetings after study sessions with the viola principal of the Chicago Symphony.
He carefully planned his trips to the board meetings to make the most of the opportunity, she said.
Much as he took maximum advantage of his time on the road, Denning made all he could of his time in Grand Junction.
He would, for instance, go to the store still in concert dress after a performance, “to make sure if they needed something,” symphony marketing director Jeremy Herigstad said.
Denning’s musical work paid off, said Pat Gormley, who knew Denning since childhood, including playing in the band at Grand Junction High School.
“He was a gifted guy,” Gormley said. “I’m sure musically he could have become part of major orchestras.”
Denning played with the orchestra through the 2009-10 season.
Denning, who earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Stanford University, also worked with other Ace Hardware businesses, consulting with business owners and helping the cooperative to find locations in the South Pacific.
“People would call on him for advice,” said Herb Bacon, a longtime Grand Junction banker. “I think he was noted for helping people know how to run a business.”
As president of the Grand Junction Rotary Club, Denning provided all the previous presidents with blocks of wood.
“It was just a square chunk of wood,” Bacon said, “and it says on it, ‘Herb.’”
The man who presented it to him “was just a heck of a nice guy,” Bacon said.
Along with his wife, survivors include Denning’s sister, Barbara Jeanne Denning Feinberg of New York.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Grand Junction Symphony, 414 Main St., Grand Junction 81501 (or at [http://www.gjsymphony.org] http://www.gjsymphony.org) or to the Western Colorado Community Foundation, P.O. Box 4334, Grand Junction 81502.