Dennis Carl Dow

DennisDow onlineJuly 2, 1950 – March 15, 2019

Dennis passed away two years ago at Stanford Hospital from complications of an undiagnosed heart condition. He would have turned 70 last year, and though he didn’t like being the center of attention, he definitely would have been had he reached that milestone. Inevitably, someone would have brought up that as a kid, he thought Fourth of July fireworks were for him.

    Dennis was born in San Francisco and raised there by his parents, Frances Garcia Dow from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Harold Charles Dow, an architect, who, as a boy, emigrated from Poland through Ellis Island with his sister Anna. Dennis loved the city as a child and explored it with his friends on his scooter and by trolley and bus. He studied piano and rooted for his home baseball team, the San Francisco Giants. During the summer, he and his sister, Debora, would spend time in Southern California with their Aunt Lil and Uncle Dave, and would also take trips with his family to the Southwest and to Carmel. One of his fondest memories was attending Cazadero Music Camp in Sonoma County. Though SF changed considerably during his lifetime, Dennis continued to love it and know it like the back of his hand.

         A proud graduate of Lowell High School, class of 1968, Dennis continued his education at San Francisco State University where he received his BA in social work and a master’s degree in counseling. He was licensed as a Marriage, Family, and Child Counselor, and in 1977 he started a private practice, which he maintained for 18 years. In 1982, he became the founding Director of Counseling Services at College of Notre Dame in Belmont (now Notre Dame de Namur University), a position he held until his retirement in 2013. Dennis earned his PhD in clinical psychology from the Western Graduate School of Psychology in Palo Alto in 1984. He was a trusted resource for students, staff, faculty, and other clients. An empathic listener and a natural advisor, he was often called upon by family and friends (and their children) for advice and support as well. 

       Dennis and Lyn Wyman were married in 1986 and raised their two daughters, Molly Dow and Annie Dow in Los Altos, California. The family loved to travel and together enjoyed music, movies, sports, restaurants, and the theater (especially in New York). Dennis was a terrific cook, known for the brisket he prepared for Jewish holidays and for his roast turkey with the works every Thanksgiving. Though a quiet, behind-the-scenes kind of guy, he could always come up with a heartfelt toast or tribute for any occasion. A strong supporter of women’s rights, he volunteered for many years at Planned Parenthood as a clinic escort. When his daughters were younger, he also volunteered at their schools as well as backstage at Peninsula Youth Theatre as “the mic guy” and prop builder. He continued over the years to work as an usher at Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts. Dennis regularly gave blood through the Stanford Blood Bank and was proud of being an on-call donor because of his blood type.           

       An avid reader of countless mystery and suspense novels, Dennis also diligently kept up with current events, perusing his San Francisco Chronicle (hard copy) every morning. A staunch supporter of liberal causes, he frequently emailed the White House when he disagreed with presidential actions or policies. In January of 2017, Dennis joined Twitter and voiced his concerns and dismay about the new administration in daily tweets. He also contributed to the Letters to the Editor section of the San Francisco Chronicle and was delighted when he would open the paper in the morning and see one of his letters in print. He would have been very pleased and relieved at the outcome of the 2020 general election. 

       Dennis’s family and friends miss him dearly and will always carry him in their hearts. He is survived by his wife and daughters; his sister Debora Dow Freed (John Freed); his nephew Peter Freed (Allison Phillips) and their daughters, Frances Freed and Aviva Freed; his niece Emily Freed (Joel Steverson); and his brothers-in-law Michael Wyman (Carolina Rosales-Wyman) and Phil Wyman and their families.

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