Beloved by all he met, Dennis K. McCormack, a devoted husband, father, grandfather and friend, passed away peacefully with family by his side after 81 years of life on April 14, 2020 at Sharp Coronado after complications from pneumonia.
Dennis was born on Dec. 31, 1938 to Francis Patrick McCormack and Margaret Marie O’Hara in Brooklyn, New York but was raised in Leetsdale, Pennsylvania with his three brothers Brian, Michael and Brendon. His love for challenge and athletics was developed early in life.
Inspired by the movie “The Navy Frogman,” Dennis joined the US Navy in 1959 and became a UDT Frogman. Recognized as a capable operator, he was called up to become plankowner, one of the first 60 men assigned to SEAL Team One when it was first formed in 1962. Dennis’ duties as a SEAL involved rigorous training and operational activities in several European countries, preparations for the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 and a combat tour in Vietnam in 1964.
Dennis enjoyed playing rugby and boxing while in the Navy and in one particular match, in spite of getting his nose broken, he took pride in delivering a TKO….HOOYAH! His athletic ability and love of sports earned him a baseball scholarship to Cal Western in San Diego where he earned a BS in mathematics after leaving the military in 1969.
As a full-time resident of Coronado, he taught math at Mount Miguel High School while coaching football and continuing his education. Eventually he earned his Ph.D. in leadership and human behavior, as well as professional psychology. His personal and professional drive led him on a varied and fulfilling career path. He established a family, child and marriage counseling practice for 20 years in Coronado. Dennis actively contributed to his community, notably as president of Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Coronado Planning Commission. His background in psychology and experience as a Navy SEAL ultimately led to him to co-author a book called “Stronger,” about building resilience and achieving peak performance under pressure.
After serving as the head of the Behavioral Medicine Unit at the Wynn Army Hospital for over a decade in Savanah, Dennis decided to retire and move back to San Diego in 2007 where he married his love, Michelle. He always told her his mantra was to make her happy and she has been the most contented recipient of his adoring devotion ever since. They enjoyed many travels together, music and theater, entertaining family and friends at their home in Bonita, as well as spending every summer at their cabin on Lake Merwin in Washington. He also loved spending time at his favorite old Coronado haunts like McP’s and Tent City, lending a compassionate ear or providing sage advice. He especially enjoyed sipping a fresh Margarita at Costa Azul. His was a life well lived.
Dennis will always be remembered for his intelligence, kindness, patience, compassion, integrity, positive disposition and selfless devotion to family and friends. He was successful, yet humble; he was light and laughter, love and loyalty all in one. He will be missed beyond measure.
Dennis is survived by his loving wife Michelle McCormack; his daughters Kelly McCormack and Karen Strabala; his grandchildren Maggie, Sara, JT (Jourdan) and Abbie, along with Cora and Gwen; his step-sons Kirk (Jordan) Martinsen; Chaz Martinsen and Zachary Gibener; and his brother Brendon (Catherine).
A celebration of life will be planned in his honor for late summer, or early fall, when the many that loved and adored him can gather in memory of this wonderful man. In lieu of flowers, if you would like to make a donation, please consider the Navy SEAL Foundation, https://www.navysealfoundation.org/donate/.