Homer Alaska - Obituaries

Story last updated at 3:58 PM on Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Denny Brandon Van Wagoner

Feb. 14, 1972-Nov. 26, 2011

Denny Brandon Van Wagoner, beloved son, brother, uncle and friend passed away suddenly at the age of 39, on Nov. 26, 2011. Denny entered this world on Valentine's Day 1972, bearing a birthmark in the shape of a kiss on his cheek.


Denny Brandon Van Wagoner

"Right from the start, we knew he would leave his mark on our hearts. He had a gentle spirit, a generous, kind heart, infectious smile, and incredible sense of humor. He loved people and had many friends far and wide. With Denny, there was no us and them only we. He was a great equalizer who brought diverse people together," wrote his family.

Denny was born in Palmer and grew up in Homer, attending school here from kindergarten to his sophomore year of high school.

Denny loved music and was a talented drummer, coming from a family of percussionists. His music took him to the Santa Cruz Mountains, where he studied in San Francisco with one of his favorite drummers. He played in a band with his best friends and recorded an album.

One of the songs, "Are You Living in the Moment?" was featured on the sound track of a movie; it epitomized the way Denny lived. Denny shared an incredible knowledge of music with his mom, and would often give her music to play on her weekly radio shows.

Along with his gift as a musician, Denny was a competent woodworker. His attention to detail made his work exceptional. He had a strong work ethic, which was evident in his job as a commercial fisherman. He seined for salmon in Prince William Sound as first mate aboard the FV Lady Grace. For the past few winters, he also fished lobster in Vinalhaven, Maine, and made many new friends there.

"His spirit will shine forever. It will be remembered in the things he touched, the words of kindness and encouragement he spoke, the music he played and listened to, the people he loved, and his incredible sense of humor that made us all laugh so hard. We will remember that sparkle in his big blue eyes and the wonderful, warm smile he shared with us all," wrote his family.

He is survived by his father and mother, Steven and Virginia "Ginger" Van Wagoner, his sister and brother in-law, Aimee and Tomasz Sulczynski, and his niece and nephew, Emma and Nikolas Sulczynski, all of Homer. He also is survived by uncle and aunt, Gary Roberts Edwards and Linda Edwards of Bakersfield, Calif.; and aunt Mary Ann Lawson and cousins Lyndsey and Amanda Lawson of Salt Lake City, Utah.

He was preceded in death by maternal grandparents, Jess H. Edwards and Lorraine Watts Edwards; paternal grandparents, Phyllis Cummings Teeples and Ammon Van Wagoner; and foster grandparents, George and Sophia Langford.

A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, 2011, at the Homer United Methodist Church. In lieu of flowers, donations of nonperishable food can be made to the Homer Community Food Pantry. A potluck will follow in the downstairs of the church.