November 28, 1947 - October 8, 2023
Dennis Dee High
Nov 28, 1947 -
Oct 8, 2023
Dee High: Beloved Husband and Father, Longtime Alaska Resident, Local Community and Industry Partner, and Judo Sensei Passes Away
Longtime Alaska resident Dee High passed from this world peacefully at home in Anchorage, Alaska, after a prolonged illness, on Oct. 8, 2023. The chasm left in his passing is felt by many whose lives he touched. Dee lived an incredible and adventurous life, and always gave his full heart and soul to his family that he loved above all else, his numerous friends, the judo community he helped to create in Alaska and the local community he called home for nearly half a century of his life. Those mourning his loss knew Dee as an admirable force of nature with a calming sense of wisdom and staggering wit. Regardless of his brilliance and astounding work ethic, he always took the time to make anyone feel at ease in his presence and just by knowing him you felt truly valued being around him.
He began his memorable life when he was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1947, to Jack and Erma (Muir) High, and raised on a cattle ranch in Idaho Falls, Idaho, after his family relocated there in 1950. Dee attended the University of Idaho, where he forged many lifelong friendships and began his devotion to practicing the martial art of judo. After graduating with a civil engineering degree, he moved to Anchorage, where he spent the rest of his life. In 1974, he married the love of his life, Gail (Rearick) High, and together they raised three children in Anchorage that meant everything to them. Dee supported his growing family as a successful civil engineer, where he bid on and oversaw the construction of thousands of civil works projects throughout Alaska, leaving his mark of expertise and attention to detail every step of the way. He was a project engineer for several prominent engineering firms in Anchorage, and then branched out on another grand adventure, founding the successful and well-respected firm of DHI Consulting Engineers in 1985. He will be greatly missed in the development industry. Amidst a professional career that spanned over 50 years, his family, friends and helping in the community always remained his core values, regardless of his success.
Dee was also a sensei at the Anchorage School of Judo for decades and founded Mountain View Judo in 1995. He earned the rank of Rokudan, sixth degree black belt in judo in 2016. Dee volunteered countless hours teaching judo and serving as a national referee for Judo tournaments throughout the country, but his main focus was always the mentorship and education he provided here in Alaska. Dee was passionate about judo and worked tirelessly to mentor and educate people about the importance of judo as a healthy and disciplined athletic opportunity for the community. He guided and shaped copious children and adults in the art of judo and self-defense, as well as the mental discipline and commitment that was crucial to the art of judo. His guidance still carries on in the multitude of people he served in the community and whose lives he changed for the better.
Alaska was the perfect place for Dee to build his extraordinary life and raise his family. He was an avid outdoorsman, enjoying everything from riding horses, fishing, shooting and hunting, or to just taking a drive in the backcountry. He especially enjoyed it when his family joined him on these adventures, and they made those memories together. Even years later, there were always remarkable and amusing stories to be told and relived around a cozy campfire or family celebration. To his family and friends, we remember a soft-spoken, witty, generous and honorable man who always put his family first and is dearly loved. Dee lived by actions, not just words, and used his God-given two hands in earnest. Dee was careful to apply one hand to provide care for himself and his family, and he dedicated the other hand to his commitment to helping others.
Dee High's passing is profoundly felt by all that knew him, especially by his family, and those of us that know he was one of the exceptional few who grace this earth every so often, once in a lifetime. He was a unique person who lived to impact others and left this world in a much better place than when he arrived in it, and his presence will be desperately missed forever.
Dee was preceded in death by his parents; and son, Dustin High. While there are countless people who loved him dearly, he is survived by his wife, Gail High; daughter, Amra Custer and son-in-law Christopher Custer; son, Jeremy High and daughter-in-law Cherell High; brother, Jack High and sister in-law Deanna High; sister, Judy Barney and brother-in-law Rich Barney; sister, Shauna Gulso and brother-in-law Harold Gulso; granddaughter, Jordyn Lawson with husband Drew Lawson; grandsons, Dylan High and Carson High; two great-granddaughters, Everleigh Lawson and Lainey Lawson; and numerous nieces and nephews.
A celebration of life will be held on June 8, 2024, at 1 p.m., at Abbott Loop Community Park Pavilion. In lieu of flowers, the High family has requested that a donation be made in honor of Dee High to Alaska Judo at https://www.alaskajudo.org/sensei-dee-high-memorial-page.
In honor of Dee's support for judo, Alaska Judo Inc. has renamed the Alaska State Judo Tournament to the Dee High Memorial Alaska State Judo Tournament. A fitting tribute to an amazing man who dedicated his life to teaching the gentle way.