On February 9, 2021, due to Covid -19 pneumonia, Dennis transitioned into the loving arms of Jesus, with his wife by his side, holding him. Dennis was born May 24, 1948 in Binghamton, New York. He was predeceased by his father and mother, Clifford and Pauline Fitch, and his brother Brian. Dennis is survived by Patti, his devoted wife and soulmate of 20 years. Additionally, he is survived by his loving daughters, Mandy (Marty) Edwards, Lindsay, Molli, Natalie and Hayley Bass, two grandsons he adored, Hunter Bass and Jace Pulido, and new granddaughter Olivia, who he was able to see before he passed and his beloved German Shepard, Kara who has been his constant companion for the past 8 years. He also leaves behind his beloved martial arts brotherhood who continue to honor his memory.
Dennis was a graduate of Ithaca College, Ithaca, N.Y., with a BS in Science, where he lettered in three varsity sports, lacrosse, swimming, and football. He received his Master in Science in Sports Science from the University of West Florida, and his Doctor of Naturology from the American Institute of Holistic Theology.
Dennis was a man of many diverse talents. He used his degree in business administration to work in New York’s financial district. He once said the primary food in the office, besides coffee, was Tums! His free spirit knew it was not the job for him. He was a walk on for the New York Jets in the late 1960’s playing the position of cornerback. When a devastating injury ended his football career, he signed with the federal anti-poverty program Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) and began work in Pensacola, Florida, helping the unemployed find jobs.
Dennis was an accomplished martial artist in every sense of the term. He began studying Shaolin Chuan Fa Tai Chi Gung Fu as a way to stay in shape for professional football. In 1968, he earned the rank of black belt and started learning Tai Chi. Throughout the 1970’s he taught classes with as many as 125 students per class. In the 1980’s, he mentored some of the best Karate and Kickboxing champions of the decade including several world champions.
During the 1990’s, he continued to teach and earned a black belt in Aikido from Master Mitsugi Saotome of the Aikido Schools of Ueshiba. In 2008, Soke Fitch was promoted to 10th degree black belt and honored with a promotion certificate signed by 16 black belts with over 500 years of combined experience. In 2009, Soke Fitch was inducted in the United States Martial Arts Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee.
As important as the martial arts was to Dennis, his family meant even more to him. He loved teasing his daughters, and playing with his grandsons. He was as devoted to his wife as she was to him.
Due to his many surgeries over the years, he became disabled and was unable to do many of the things he loved. He never gave up though and continued to push himself and encourage others not to give up.
Dennis will be greatly missed but he leaves behind a legacy of love, honor, and friendship. Dennis loved Jesus and we are comforted by the fact that he is no longer in pain and is resting in His arms. Praise God we will one day see him again!
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