Melvin Dennis Rorabaugh

A memorial visitation for Melvin Dennis Rorabaugh, 86, Lawrence will be held at 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., February 18th, 2022 at Warren-McElwain Mortuary in Lawrence.  Dennis passed away on Sunday, January 30 2022 at Bridge Haven Village in Lawrence.

Dennis was born on June 28, 1935, in Smith Center, KS, the son of Melvin E. and Elsa B. (Loofbourrow) Rorabaugh.  He graduated from Seneca High School in Seneca, KS  in 1953.  He received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Emporia State University where he met and married his wife, Janet Sue McGregor, on May 4, 1957. He then began his career as a high school physics and mathematics teacher in 1958 in Phillipsburg, KS. He also taught in Atchison, KS and then in Lawrence, KS until he retired in 1995.

Besides teaching, Dennis was an assistant boys’ gymnastics coach and a girls’ softball coach at Lawrence High School. He was a longtime member of the Kansas National Education Association and a member of the Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity at Emporia State University.

Dennis had a great love of sports and enjoyed visiting many different cities while attending major and minor league baseball games.  He was a dedicated fan of KU basketball, the Kansas City Royals and Kansas City Chiefs.  He was also an avid woodworker and enjoyed making treasured decorations for his friends and family.  He and wife, Janet were long-time volunteers for Lawrence Meals on Wheels.

Dennis is survived by his wife of 64 years, daughter Danette Umholtz and husband Mark of Lawrence, daughter Diane Spearman of Tulsa, OK, son Darren Rorabaugh and wife Sue of Fairbanks, AK, son Don Rorabaugh and wife Nora of Carlton, OR, son Dale Rorabaugh and wife Rosa of Lawrence, brother-in-law Gary McGregor of Atchison, KS, 16 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his parents, brother, and sister.

Dennis’ family would like to thank Bridge Haven Village and the Visiting Nurses Association Hospice team for their thoughtful care and support.

Memorial contributions may be made in Dennis’ name to Lawrence Meals on Wheels and may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th Street, Lawrence, KS  66044.

A private family celebration of life will be held at a later date.

22 Condolences

  1. Reece Wiley on February 4, 2022 at 10:10 am

    Dennis was quite the character–one of the best at LHS while I was there. He was my USD #496 Summer Paint Crew mentor, teaching me how to be a ‘real’ painter. Danette and his other wonderful children are a living testament to the kind of man and father he was. He was from the ‘old school’. They don’t make them like him anymore.

  2. Patsy Hoover on February 4, 2022 at 1:08 pm

    Dennis has been a long time friend, fraternity brother of my husband, Larry — Janet and I were sorority sisters, we were married the same year, celebrated our 50th anniversaries together, and got together at every opportunity we could through the years. He will be missed, not only by his family but the multitude of friends he has.

  3. Dorothy D. Cook on February 4, 2022 at 1:11 pm

    Jan and Family:
    So very sorry for your loss. I will always remember Dennis – he was always the gentleman! He had a wonderfully wry sense of humor – and such a great smile!
    I’m sure that many great memories will see you through this time of loss and grief. Keeping you and your family in prayers.
    Dorothy Cook

  4. MIKE AND ROSEMARY HADL on February 4, 2022 at 3:12 pm

    To Danette and Family, so sorry for your loss, may he rest in peace …Mike Hadl

  5. Tracy Dethloff on February 4, 2022 at 7:37 pm

    I had Dennis for a teacher at Lawrence High School. He was an excellent educator and a really nice man. I enjoyed his classroom.

  6. Bruce Lacey on February 4, 2022 at 9:16 pm

    Dennis was a great teacher — a favorite of mine. I remember him for his sharp, understated sense of humor, and that we had a lot of FUN in his math classes. You can’t say that about most math teachers. A wonderful man who will be missed by many. Sending love and sympathy to the entire family. ❤️

  7. Max Seacat on February 4, 2022 at 10:35 pm

    Dennis was a long time friend and fraternity brother. I always enjoyed his dry sense of humor. We remember the fun times with the Lawrence area fraternity brothers. Janet, sorry for you loss.

  8. Charlotte A Hastings on February 5, 2022 at 11:43 am

    Charlotte Hastings:
    Dennis and his family such a happy and good memories neighbor ,on Davis Rd. bestest of memories the Hastings family will always treasure those times.
    I will always remain grateful for Dennis sharing his mathematical skills, as he helped me when I was getting a business up and running, couldn’t not have done it without him. My God speed the family to be at peace at this great loss to them all.

  9. William Duane Smith on February 6, 2022 at 9:22 pm

    Rorabaugh family. Sorry for your loss. My memories of Dennis go back a ways. We played city rec. softball together for the LEA team. Some of you were in my math classes at CJHS. I enjoyed the breakfast group with Dennis and the retired guys.

  10. Jim Wilson on February 7, 2022 at 8:24 am

    To the Rorabaugh Family. So sorry for your loss as “Dennis” was a living example of the old school of being a friend to all and helping others anytime he could. We lived a block apart and went to school together in Seneca through 1951 when my family moved to Lawrence. I vividly remember playing sandlot football in his front yard many, many times during the grade school and junior high years. He was a good friend and great classmate as we competed annually in both school and on the basketball court. I stayed with the Rorabaugh family when I got invited back to the 1953 SPHS prom. The world needs more people like Dennis Rorabaugh.

  11. Ron Aiken on February 7, 2022 at 2:38 pm

    Sorry for your loss. Never had him as a teacher but, he always spoke to me when ever he was in the store shopping. A nice man.

  12. Karen Heeb on February 8, 2022 at 9:27 am

    Thoughts and prayers to Denises’ family.
    He was a great teacher and very caring person. I have a tray and bench made out of Cottonwood that I purchased from him at a craft show many years ago. I think of him each time I use the tray and every time I walk past the bench—both beautifully decorated with sunflowers.
    May God put His loving arms around you and give you peace.

  13. Debra Diehl on February 9, 2022 at 7:05 am

    So sorry to hear this. I had Mr. Rorabaugh for math class at Lawrence High. He was a wonderful teacher. Years later I would see him and his wife at craft shows and would chat a bit. I have one of his beautiful wooden ladders that holds quilts. He was such a good person. Sending hugs to the family, especially Don (LHS Class of ’81).

  14. Cheryl and Doran Chaput on February 9, 2022 at 9:02 am

    Jan and family,
    Sorry for your loss. Dennis was such a smart and funny man. Teaching with him was a privilege, he was willing to help and could always make everyone laugh. He was a wonderful teacher and a kind person
    Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

  15. Flora Costantini on February 9, 2022 at 10:09 am

    To Diane and family,
    I’m very sorry for your loss.
    It’s never easy the loss of a parent, I know a lot about that.
    You may be comforted from the good times spend it together.

  16. Byron Miller on February 10, 2022 at 7:46 am

    One of the best teachers I ever had. He was really there for you. He made math make sense, and connected with his students in a way that made you want to learn.
    I skipped a lot of classes in high school, but not his class. He instilled a curiosity in me that made math a useable tool in my life since.
    I will remember his laugh, and his caring for others. He, and Mr. Kelly were the best at LHS!
    Byron Miller

  17. Joan Wells on February 15, 2022 at 8:37 am

    Terry and I were so sorry to hear of Dennis’s passing. We knew him both as an instructor at Atchison High School, and as a colleague and friend at Lawrence High, but I knew him best from the years that we coached softball together at L.H.S. Winning the State Softball Championship game in 1977, with Dennis in the third base box, will forever be one of my most rewarding memories. Dennis was dependable, intelligent, witty, intense, caring, and the best assistant softball coach we even had. He will be greatly missed

  18. Victor Schmille on February 15, 2022 at 2:20 pm

    To my ole buddy Darren. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I have tons of great memories growing up in the neighborhood with you all. Your folks always made us feel like we were part of the family when we invaded your house. And when we should have left sooner, Dennis would ask us “what are you still doing here?” then walk away laughing and shaking his head. Dennis was a great dude, teacher and friend, I am fortunate to have had the opportunity share a portion of his time, I will miss him.
    Until our paths cross again….

  19. Molly Umholtz on February 15, 2022 at 5:30 pm

    Our annual visits to Umholtz family in Lawrence always included time with Dennis and Janet Rorabaugh, Danette’s beloved parents, Mark’s in-laws.
    We cannot count the happy hours we shared with Dennis and Janet. Dennis lit up the room with his laughter and wry humor.
    We shared a love of apple pie (ala mode), and Janet served up the best-ever! Always room for one more at their table! Dennis extended warmth and generosity, and his smile stays with us.
    Our thoughts are with dear Janet and all the Rorabaugh Family.
    With love and gratitude,
    Molly & Martin Umholtz
    Santa Rosa, CA

  20. Betty and Mark Currie on February 15, 2022 at 9:50 pm

    We were sad to hear of the passing of Dennis. He was a colleague of ours at LHS. He also taught math to our son. He was a great teacher and made one laugh with his great sense of humor. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Rorabaugh family as you grieve the loss of him on this earth! Our deepest empathy for your loss! Mark and Betty Currie

  21. Michael Mitchell on February 16, 2022 at 4:43 pm

    A great teacher and even greater man. I was in his geometry class at LHS and he was also the asst coach for my gymnastics team. I was a teachers asst in one of his classes my senior year. We would go back and forth with understated and sarcastic humor. He always gave as goo as he got! The world wil miss “Mr. Rorabaugh”!

  22. Nikki Spearman Villafane on January 30, 2023 at 1:01 pm

    I miss you Grandpa.

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