Loved ones pay final respects to former Perrysburg Town Supervisor

OBSERVER Photo by Andrew David Kuczkowski: After the Memorial Mass for Dennis Stopen, a three-volley salute, pictured above, went off for Stopen, who was in the United States Navy.

GOWANDA — Dennis Charles Stopen lived out many roles. Some days, he was the family man with jokes, stories and laughs. On others, Dennis could have been the Perrysburg Town Supervisor, who aimed to be fair yet stern at every board meeting, as well as the community giver as he assisted with the libraries and those of need.

Despite his passing on Aug. 27, many reiterated the fond memories of him during his Memorial Mass at St. Joe’s Roman Catholic Church in Gowanda on Saturday.

Throughout the tales from the family and friends who attended, many facets of Dennis were expressed and from that, many laughs were shared.

Dennis’ willingness to be involved in the area he lived in helped him become a well-known figure in the greater Gowanda area.

“He just kept going. Five minutes here, five minutes there was more than enough time,” Dennis’ son Todd Stopen said. “But I mean, always when I was growing up, he was always helping people. … Constantly helping people. ‘Oh, let me just give you a hand.'”

Dennis Charles Stopen

Other anecdotes gave more detail about the man with the trimmed lumberjack beard who could give you a cold stare down, but then turn the tables with a contagious smile.

“We went camping, or whatever you call it with cottages, and some bears came out,” Todd began. “(Dennis) is laughing saying, ‘Hey, look at that. There are some bears.’ They came right up to the window and my Ma is screaming. My Dad was like, ‘If you keep screaming, they’re going to come and get you.'”

Though these moments of recollection are positive, there was still acknowledgement of the passing of an impactful community member. Before lunch began and grace was said, Trina Stopen asked for a moment to speak, then said, “My father had an impact on everybody’s life in this room. I think everybody tries to make a difference in other’s lives and my father definitely made a difference. Whether it’s by something he said that you’ll remember for years to come, a story he told, a funny joke, I think that’s what he wants to be and live on in very one of us. … And as he would say, ‘Rub a dub dub, thanks for the grub. Let’s eat.'”

Upon Dennis’ death, the stories he told were being shared from his coworkers to family members, from his children to those Dennis knew in local politics and from the ones he loved to the community he lived in.

It’s not the content that made his tales special, nor the comedy in which it was said, but they were special because of the man it came from.

Twitter: @Kuczkowski95