Obituary of Dennis James Cully
It is with deep sadness, the family of Dennis Cully announce his peaceful passing on December 9, 2020. Dennis was born in Listowel, Ontario, April 20, 1946 to Jim and Mary Cully. He attended Emmanuel Bible College for 3 years, was employed by Canadian General Electric for 34 years, served in Ecuador, as a missionary for 5 years and ministered in Celebrate Recovery in North Bay as Ministry Leader. Dennis loved to help people and he was a devoted bookkeeper, serving in various churches or helping individuals with their business or taxes. Left to mourn his loss are his wife, Sandra (nee Cameron) of 49 years, his children: Paul (Karen) Michael (Fiona) Sarah (Rex) grandson, Ayden Alarcon, sister Linda Cully, sister-in-law, Claire Cameron, brothers-in-law George Wright and Albert Serre as well as many nieces and nephews. In keeping with Dennis's wishes, cremation has taken place. Visitation will be held at Elliott Heights Baptist Church, 1300 Fennell Avenue on Saturday, December 19th at 1:00 p.m. followed by a Celebration Of Life at 2:00 p.m. A private family inurnment will be held. Arrangements have been entrusted to SIMPLER TIMES CREMATION CENTRE 585 Carlton Street St. Catharines, ON. We are limited to the number we can accommodate because of Covid, but would love to have you join us via livestream online at this link https://youtu.be/sWiOxu5GtGg
As per the Province of Ontario Covid-19 regulations - All guests attending the visitation or funeral MUST wear a mask.
Dennis Cully was born on April 20, 1946 to Jim and Mary Cully of Listowel, Ontario. His parents were farmers and Dennis grew up with one sister, Linda Cully. Together the family raised cattle, pigs and chickens. There was lots of work to do and Dennis learned to work hard for many long hours. He loved hard work and despised laziness. Nothing was too humble a task and anything that was difficult was a challenge that he met head on.
However, it was not all work and no play because that would make Dennis a dull boy. He and his sister were both daredevils and thought nothing of climbing up to the roof of the barn and sliding down the roof into the silo which was partly filled with corn. They didn’t possess a lot of toys or games, so they invented their own games, like crossing the river by holding onto a cow’s tail, riding the cows when they were going to pasture, pretending the wheel barrow was a dump truck when they had to clean out the pig barn or wondering why their Mommy didn’t want them to come any closer to the house with their new found friend who was black and white and didn’t smell too good.
Dennis had many near- death experiences while he was growing up. At 16, he fell head- first out of the barn while the family was harvesting the hay. He thought he tripped on some baler twine or perhaps was hit on the head by the conveyer and fell twenty-eight feet out of the barn. As a result of this fall, he suffered excruciating pain in his neck and head the rest of his life. He wasn’t one to complain and had a very high pain threshold.
On another occasion, he was driving his father’s car at 50 miles per hour on a gravel road. He hit some loose gravel and cut off a hydro pole. You can imagine that his father would not be a happy farmer that day! I don’t think he discussed this accident much with his children, but I have to admit that his dare devil, fear- of- nothing attitude has been passed down to the next two generation.
While duck hunting with a couple of friends, his companion noticed a little rabbit, swung around and fired his shotgun to shoot the rabbit. At first, Dennis didn’t understand why he landed in the gravel and scraped his knees, but later realized that God must have protected him from the shot. He jumped up and retrieved the rabbit. Later, in his home, he felt a stinging feeling in his head and thought that perhaps he had a thorn in his head as a result of picking the rabbit out of the thornbush, but his mother noticed that there were round pellets in his head. His friend hung up his gun and never hunted again.
During special meetings, led by Wes Aram, in the fall of 1965, Dennis, at the age of 19 understood that he needed to confess his sins and commit his life to Jesus Christ. In 1968, he felt that the Lord wanted him to go to Bible College, so he enrolled in Emmanuel Bible College in Kitchener. While attending school, he worked at HiWay Market, packing groceries, working in the warehouse or garden centre. Dennis received this job just before school started. He had tried hitchhiking from Listowel to Kitchener, but didn’t get a ride, so he walked the entire trip. When the personal manager heard his story, he hired him on the spot. Dennis remembered helping several large German ladies load their groceries into a Volkswagon after they got settled in their car and the groceries were packed on top of them. He had never seen so many groceries nor women in a VW. During his summers, he worked in Children’s Bible Clubs. One of the highlights of those years was when he worked on the Six Nation Reserve and was introduced to the indigenous culture. From then on, he always had a soft spot in his heart for the First Nation People.
In his third year of Bible College he met Sandra Cameron, at Emmanuel, and was married on September 4, 1971. The next year they moved to Hamilton where Dennis began his studies at Mohawk College where he was enrolled in the Electronic Technician Course. Dennis became a father on August 7, 1973 when Paul joined the family. He graduated in 1974 and began working for Canadian General Electric which took them to Peterborough where Michael was born on November 14, 1975. After five years in Peterborough, Dennis was asked to move to Hamilton and set up a repair facility for GE. A little girl was added to the family on September 20, 1979 and she was named Sarah which means princess and she truly was Dennis’ little princess. The boys became good at wrestling and other rough housing games as Dennis spent time every night on the floor with them.
In 1982 Dennis and Sandy felt the Lord calling them into missionary service and in 1983, they left Hamilton and drove to Texas where they studied Spanish for 10 months in preparation for future work in Quito, Ecuador. During the next five years, Dennis worked in security where he earned the title, “St Peter” because he had the keys to the compound. He repaired hospital equipment, led Bible studies, started a church and helped people who wanted to learn English.
When Dennis returned to Canada in 1989, he was fortunate to return to his old job with Canadian General Electric, who reinstated him into the pension plan and offered him a full- time job in the middle of a recession. Dennis firmly believed that “God will provide all your needs” and this was certainly one of those times that God did that for him.
Dennis was a member of Elliott Heights Baptist Church and worked in various ministries from Awana, Sunday School, visitation, being a deacon and even had a few months working as the janitor. Whatever he did, he did with all his heart and cleaning bathrooms was no exception.
In 1995 Dennis and Sandy began to work with a Spanish-speaking Baptist Church here in Hamilton and spent the next 12 years serving people from all countries in Latin America. It was here that Dennis had his first taste of bookkeeping, something that would become a second career for him. He often wondered why he hadn’t gone into accounting when he was younger.
In 2004, Dennis was diagnosed with prostate cancer, had surgery and recuperated well. In 2005, he began to cough and was later diagnosed with asthma, which became chronic and was what caused the Cully’s to retire and move to North Bay where the air would be fresher. The move was a good decision because Dennis’ asthma became more controlled and he loved being a Northerner. The area that he always teased Sandy about as being unproductive, useless and barren became a place of serenity and beauty to him. He so enjoyed the deer that visited our front yard nearly daily. He would shake the crab apples from the tree and try to entice the does to eat from his hand. They knew his voice and would come very close, but he never got to feed them from his hand.
In North Bay, he was introduced to the ministry of Celebrate Recovery, a program to help those with hurts, habits and hang-ups. Dennis benefitted personally from the program and helped many men walk through the 12-step program. He saw people become clean from alcoholism and drugs, receive healing in their marriages and become leaders themselves. Two girls, like sisters to Dennis gave him two nicknames. One was Gazelle because he could move so quickly from the back seat of the van to the front and the other was Q-Tip because he was so skinny with a white top.
While living in North Bay, Dennis became involved in various churches helping with the bookkeeping. After moving into a condo, he also helped with the finances as he served on the condo board for 8 years. He also used his other skills of repairing what was broken, helping people who were moving, driving people who needed a ride whether to church or appointments and was always ready to lend a listening ear or pray for them.
In 2011, Dennis became a grandfather, a doting grandfather who wasn’t afraid to hold a little premature baby, feed him and cuddle him, the same as he had done with his other kids. He taught him to be rough and wrestle and to enjoy some precious times of reading and walking together. Papa and Ayden had a very special relationship and it is interesting to observe that Ayden has many of Papa’s characteristics, especially being mischievous and comical, or strong math skills, his logical thinking and dexterity in building. Physically they share the same strength and stamina. Ayden also has the good -natured disposition of sharing with others and a desire to help.
Dennis had a very good sense of humour and wasn’t afraid to laugh at himself. He was quick witted and even in the hospital, a stroke specialist told me that he would go into Dennis’ room just to hear a few of Dennis’ one-liners.
I would say that Dennis was a humble man. I think his background of farming caused him to be very down to earth. He could identify with the poor in Ecuador and would literally give them the shirt off his back. One rainy, cold day, he went through the information office and saw a man from the jungle, shivering from the cold. He had no coat and was barefoot. Dennis took off his jacket, shoes and socks and gave them to the man. Then he hopped in the car and travelled home to get another pair of socks and shoes. This was all in a day’s work for Dennis. He saw a need, reached out and met it.
In 2016 Dennis experienced an open- heart surgery to repair the aorta valve and an aorta aneurism. He recuperated quickly from the surgery and shared with his family that he could work hard and do whatever he wanted because he had had a valve job and his heart was as good as new.
In 2017, Dennis was diagnosed with mild cognitive disorder and that diagnosis was changed to Alzheimer’s in 2018. Dennis accepted this condition graciously, as hard as it was, and decided to make the best of his life and continue doing what he could as long as he could. It was amazing to see him continue to work as a bookkeeper and do it excellently while he would forget what he had for lunch.
In 2019, the Cully’s felt they should move back to Hamilton, where they would be closer to their children and where they would have access to better health care. The move took place this summer and after settling into their new condo, Dennis suffered a stroke and was hospitalized for nearly two months. It was Dennis’ desire to return home and the Lord granted his wish. He returned home on December 2, Ayden’s birthday, and was able to enjoy a piece of Ayden’s birthday cake and spend some time with him after a two-month absence.
The following day, Dennis suffered a massive stroke and five days later, entered the presence of his Lord. Going to Heaven was a reality for Dennis. He always spoke excitedly about Heaven and meeting the Lord.
Dennis never thought that his life had impacted others, but the messages that we, his family have been receiving proves otherwise. I’m sure the Lord said, “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of thy Lord
Rex's Tribute to Dennis:
Sarah said to me that she will miss him so much, he’s gone forever. I said, he’s not gone forever!!! He is in Heaven, and he is still here on earth. He is right here, in each of us, because his love continues to live in our hearts! Everything he did, everything he was, and how he touched our hearts, will ALWAYS be remembered. Just as he accepted me with open arms into his family, from the time that I met him, to the time that he went to heaven I was able to witness a loving father, a devoted husband, a man of unbelievable faith, courage and strength till the very end. His determination was unbelievable. Since I have known him, I’ve watched him continue to give, forgive, forget, but most of all I’ve watched him love. So much love for his family, his friends and even strangers. He was there whenever you needed him, and he wouldn’t stop until he figured it out or got the job done. There are no words to describe his devotion to his family, God and his willingness to help others.
His life truly was a miracle and a blessing. With what doctors have said in the past, with the close encounters and medical conditions he had, you would never believe it when you saw him.
If Dennis would have died around 60 years ago when he fell out of that barn, we wouldn’t be here. If Dennis would have died in his teenaged years when he got shot in the head, we wouldn’t be here. If Dennis would have died when he had cancer 15 years ago or when he had heart surgery 4 years ago, we also wouldn’t all be here today. Against all odds, he was able to be here to share his life with us. So thank you God for keeping him here long enough for his family and friends to experience the love and joy over all this time.
In his last days, he would have had beautiful views of the mountain brow, cozy in his comfortable condo with his wife and feeling the love from his family and friends.
I thought to myself, if I was Dennis many, many years ago, and God asked me to choose how I would live my life he would probably reply:
If possible, I would like to have a loving wife and a comfortable home. I would like to have children, sons, and a daughter. I would like to live to see my grandson and play with him. I want to spend my life helping others and serving you Lord. But whatever you decide for me, I will leave in your hands and have faith in you Lord.
To me Dennis was a Saint. After everything that he has been through, all his acts of kindness and everything he has done, I see his life as a legend to his family and friends. My son Ayden listens to this song, called Legends Never Die and it makes me think of Dennis. It says, “Legends never die, they become a part of us” and I feel that Dennis is a part of all of us now and his memories WILL live forever just as he will live forever in Heaven, and one day, I hope that we will be there with him too.
My name is Olivia Chevez, I came to Canada 25 years ago to marry Milton Chevez (rip). We met The Cully in November 1995 when they visited First Hispanic Baptist Church.
They wanted to congregate with a Spanish speaking church trying to keep alive their experience with our Community which they missed since they came back from Ecuador.
They ended up staying and becoming members of our Church. They saw the opportunity to help and serve in many ways these small group looking forward to learning more about God and settle down in Canada.
Dennis helped our families to move, install appliances, with plumbing and electricity issues and many other problems. As our Cuban friends say, “Dennis resolved any issue”.
At Church, he was busy… as Deacon he took care of the safety and good flow of the Service on Sundays. Dennis helped with transportation, in our multiple needs in the kitchen, washing dishes, settling tables, serving food for dinners. He also became an Elder helping with his experience in the decision making at the Church.
He helped me with the finances when I was responsible of these Ministry. Once I taught him Excel, Dennis was amazed by the program. Since then, He did not stop learning up to the point of being able to take over the position after I moved to other Ministry 4 years later.
He became an autodidact, learning bookkeeping and government laws and regulations in order to serve better in the Finances. He ended up helping other Churches in Niagara and Mississauga, and Saint Braces Church in North Bay.
On 2006, Dennis became sick with Prostate Cancer. He had a surgery that was successful but, there were consequences like thrombosis and chronic asthma. For these reasons, they decided to move in 2008 to North Bay looking for better conditions for his health.
Once there, they decided to congregate at First Baptist in North Bay with Pastor Wilbert Zavitz where they supported the Program “Celebrate Recovery”. They also were part of congregation at the Eau Claire Evangelical and Missionary Church to support a young Pastor father of five amazing children, Pastor Jedediah Gorham.
Once in Celebrate Recovery, they were busy teaching, giving counselling, serving food and helping with transportations to those in need and those who did not know our Lord and were experiencing all kind of addictions.
At same time, Dennis was member of the Board of Directors in the Building where they lived, sometimes even helping as Handyman.
During their time living in North Bay, Sandy’s family experienced sad moments with the passing of two brothers and a sister. Sandra and Dennis had the opportunity to serve their relatives on these difficult times.
Dennis surpass an “open hearth” surgery and became diagnosed with early stage of Alzheimer.
In December last year, visiting family in Hamilton, Dennis suffered his first episode of epilepsy. After this event, they decided to come back to Hamilton to get prepare with specialist and hospitals to look after his future needs and to be physically close to them. They thought it will be wise to be close to their children too.
Our Lord and Savior made possible the moving without any problem on August 2020.
Dennis had the opportunity to wait to go to the presence of God once Sandy was settled.
On behalf of my Community and those who were impacted by Dennis’ life, THANK YOU AND SEE YOU LATER MY FRIEND!
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