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Dennis Nicholas Marks
January 14, 1929 - January 10, 2022
Carmichael, California - Walking home from kindergarten, his mother watches for him from the tiny New York restaurant she and the boy's father run. She asks him why he is walking backwards. Barely four years old, he says that way fewer people would see he'd wet his pants. Born to Greek immigrant parents, Dennis Marks was already developing the creative thinking and problem-solving ability that would serve him his entire life. The Great Depression and his family etched in him the value of education and the importance of work. From the age of five, he had an all-consuming goal to be a doctor, driving him to graduate from high school at age 16 and Columbia University when only 18, while working various jobs to pay tuition. He valued the lessons learned about poverty and illness while at NYU medical school and its affiliated Bellevue Hospital.
While in medical school, Dennis was doctor at a camp for kids from low-income NYC families. There he was drawn to a friendly, pretty counselor who had plans to be a pediatric nurse. After graduating, he took an internship in New Haven, a decision motivated by proximity to Nancy. They married in 1952 and at the time of her death, they had celebrated 68 anniversaries.
Serving in the Army, Dennis, Nancy and their first child moved to Tokyo. After completing his service, Sacramento became home for 66 years until his death this month. Dennis established his pediatric practice in 1956 and they had their their next 3 kids in 5 years.
At the age of 35, Dennis built a residential center for people with developmental disabilities, all while raising four children and working as a full-time physician and part-time entrepreneur. Additionally, Dennis was a fisherman, skier, poet, painter, sculptor, photographer and philanthropist. Dennis and Nancy strived to improve the lives of people in Sacramento, especially children, from healthcare to the arts, libraries to the zoo.
A devoted husband, he and Nancy kept a running gin rummy score for over 60 years. He was an avid storyteller who had great fun with friends & family, loving them ferociously and supporting their dreams. His children, grandchildren, significant others and great-grands were his priority and as he stated in his memoirs, his "ultimate legacy". He is survived by children Debby Dillon, Steve (Jenelle), Joan Marks, Connie Minden (Andy) & Mick (Joanne), grandchildren Ali, Brian (Serrah), Kate (Andy), Brendon (Kate), Sarah, Carl, Keaton (Alexa) & Kendra, nine great grandchildren, cherished nieces and nephews and beloved caregivers Meli, Bea, Viktor & Taya. Dennis & Nancy's lives will be celebrated when we are able to safely gather again.
Memorial gifts may be made to your choice of organizations close to Dennis' heart, Carmichael Presbyterian Church, Cristo Rey High School, Crocker Art Museum or UC Davis Health Foster Care Resilience Fund by visiting
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