At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Dennis Corbin lived a life of purpose, taking nothing for granted and always thinking of others ahead of himself. A devoted family man, Dennis was an amazing husband and father: in whatever they did, he supported his family 100 percent. An honorable and hardworking man, he was well known and respected at Western Michigan University as well as within the entire Kalamazoo community. Dennis had a great sense of humor and took everything in stride with a contagious zest for life that had no equal. Life will never be the same without him here, but he leaves behind a timeless legacy that countless others will proudly carry on.
Born on May 16th, 1954 to Robert and Marie (Wyczalek) Corbin in Sacramento, California, Dennis was the fourth of five children. He was raised in Flint, Michigan with his siblings, Lynn, Greg, Brad, and Tracy. His father served as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force, and passed away in a plane crash while serving the country when Dennis was only four years old. Despite the hardships of being a single mother, Marie raised Dennis and his siblings to be amazing people.
From a young age, Dennis was an active and athletic person who was engaged in his community in many ways. He developed a passion for cars early on, which inspired his love for working with his hands. He attended Flint Northwestern High School, where he played center on the football team, was a member of the golf team, and played upright bass in the school orchestra. After graduating from high school in 1972, Dennis attended Kalamazoo College, where he played football for three years. Even to this day, he could still long snap with the best of them. Dennis then transferred to Central Michigan University, where he earned a degree in athletic training and physical education. He continued his education at the University of Arizona, earning a master’s degree in athletic training in 1979.
Dennis was endlessly devoted to his wife, Gayle, the love of his life. They met in high school, when Gayle was a senior and he was a junior. As Dennis would often joke, she was a year older than him, but about a billion years smarter. They were wed on February 3rd, 1978, and recently celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary in Chicago with their children. Together, Dennis and Gayle moved from Flint to Tucson, Arizona while Dennis completed his master’s degree. They next moved to Bowling Green, Ohio, where Dennis worked for three years at Bowling Green State University as an assistant athletic trainer. It was during this time that Dennis and Gayle renovated their first of many houses together, and welcomed their first dog, Phoebe, into their lives. In 1982, they moved to Kalamazoo, where Dennis began his tenure at Western Michigan University after being hired as head athletic trainer. Over the decades, though Dennis’s title changed many times, his dedication to promoting student-athlete welfare and his commitment to the Bronco nation was unwavering. He worked with every sports program at WMU, and was able to be a mentor and have a positive impact on thousands of student-athletes during his 36 years of service to the WMU athletic department.
Dennis was extremely dedicated to his family. In 1983, he and Gayle were blessed with the birth of their daughter, Natalie, and in 1986, they welcomed their son, Nick. They raised their children in a true partnership, demonstrating what a healthy, loving, and equal relationship looked like. He built his life around being a good father, even choosing to live close to work in order to take his children to school in the morning, and come home for lunch and family dinners between athletic events. Dennis regularly took Natalie and Nick to WMU games—Natalie will often brag that she attended her first Western game at 2 weeks old, and Nick enjoyed spending time with his Dad on the sidelines of home football games. Dennis supported his children in every way. He was notorious for his loud (or, as he would call it, “obnoxious”) cheering from the sidelines during Natalie and Nick’s high school soccer and football games. Dennis was always there for his children when they needed him, as a mentor, as a support network, and as a role model. He raised them to value toughness, emotional vulnerability, kindness, generosity, and hard work. Dennis’s role as a father figure extended beyond his children, as he provided guidance and mentorship to many of the young people who came into his life during his years at WMU. His ability to connect with and support people was truly a gift.
Beyond his family and work, Dennis was also a passionate car fanatic, skilled handyman, and avid pick-up basketball player. He also enjoyed camping; he and Gayle traveled to places including Yellowstone National Park, the U.P. and Arkansas in their small trailer. Dennis enjoyed reading mysteries, and a wide range of music. He was also notorious for occasionally busting out ridiculous dance moves, his affinity for Diet Coke and cookies, and his goofy yet understated sense of humor. He also enjoyed caring for the family’s schnauzers—after Phoebe, they welcomed Daphne, followed by Sophie and Raven. He was very skilled with his hands—though completely self-taught, he could tackle nearly any project around the house, and was always willing to help his children and friends with their own home improvement projects. He enjoyed nothing more than maintaining and detailing his cars, and made sure his children knew how to properly wax their own vehicles, too. Unbeknownst to some, Dennis had an odd love of Black Friday shopping. He enjoyed the mission of heading out to score deals and secure the hard-to-find hot ticket items as gifts —it was just one of the many ways Dennis cared for others. He was always generous, and was a firm believer in paying it forward. Most importantly, he didn’t want credit for it. Dennis was the epitome of humility in the spirit of serving others.
Dennis was diagnosed with cancer in 2013, and overcame several rounds of remission and reoccurrence. Through it all, he remained as dedicated and hardworking as ever, and took every step to ensure his loved ones would always be taken care of. In fall of 2017, it was discovered that his cancer had metastasized to his brain, and he successfully underwent radiation treatment. In his final months, Dennis was leading an active and full life, and feeling exceptionally well. On March 6th, Dennis suffered a massive stroke unexpectedly. He held on until the next day and passed peacefully with his family by his side.
Dennis had a profound impact on all who met him. His door was always open, and he always had time to support and care for his family, his friends, students, or colleagues. Deeply loved and admired, he will be forever missed by those too numerous to count.
Dennis R. Corbin, of Kalamazoo, died March 7, 2018, in Kalamazoo. Surviving are his wife of 40 years, Gayle Corbin; 2 children: Natalie Corbin (Christopher Gronberg) and Nick (Sarah) Corbin; 4 siblings: Lynn (Ron) Slade, Greg Corbin, Brad Corbin, and Tracy (Dale) Jones; brother-in-law, Jim Bitzinger; and many nieces and nephews. Cremation will take place. Services will be held Monday, March 12, 4 p.m. at the Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Dr. Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900 followed by a reception in the Life Story Center. Please visit Dennis’ personal web page at www.BetzlerFuneralHome.com, where you can archive a favorite memory or photo and sign his online guestbook before coming to the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Western Michigan University Gary Fund or West Michigan Cancer Center.