Allen A. “Al” Denio
June 6, 1934 - March 29, 2023
Allen A. “Al” Denio, age 88, of Newark, DE, passed away peacefully, surrounded by his loving family on Wednesday, March 29, 2023. He was a loving and devoted husband, father and grandfather. He will be greatly missed by his family, friends and colleagues.
Born in Lowell, MA, on June 6, 1934, he was the son of the late Albert A. and Ethel (Lawson) Denio. He was a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Lowell where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry. His full scholarship was funded by a textile workers’ union. After working at DuPont for a year, Al attended the University of New Hampshire where he received his Ph.D. in chemistry. Al then returned to DuPont (1962-64) where he worked at the Experimental Station, Pioneering Research Lab of the Textile Fibers Dept., after which he spent his career educating others as a physical chemistry professor at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire for 32 years with two final years at the University of Delaware.
Al was passionate about chemistry, education, the environment and running. A 65 year member of the American Chemical Society and Regional Councilor of the Delaware section from 2006-2011, he was intrigued by the latest advances and was professionally active until this year. Within ACS, he was active in the Committee of Environment Impact and the Government Affairs Committee. Earlier, he chaired the Central Wisconsin ACS section. He was a co-founder of the Delaware Academy of Chemistry Science. At UW-Eau Claire, he founded the Chem-Business program. Al created a course, Chemistry for Artists and Art Buffs, with a chemical safety component. He loved to encourage his students, happily following their successes and careers. A dedicated environmentalist, Al was active in the Sierra Club and one of his heroes was Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-WI), the founder of Earth Day whom he knew. He took up running at age 38 and ran 25 marathons before his knees put a stop to that. He was inducted into the Indianhead Track Club Hall of Fame in 2002. An entertaining writer, he penned monthly columns for years for the Del-Chem bulletin and his track club.
Al’s interests encompassed art, politics, history, world affairs, the Boston Red Sox and Green Bay Packers. There is interesting chemistry in pottery glazes, after all! He loved discussing all these and swapping stories over a good beer. Al was an Eagle Scout, served in the United States Air Force, and was a member of Lake Street United Methodist Church in Eau Claire. He was a loyal friend, had an incredible sense of humor, and enjoyed bringing people together.
In addition to his parents, Al was preceded in death by his loving wife of 60 years, Valerie (Steinmetz) Denio; and sister, Lois Dickison. He is survived by his children, Thomas Denio (Laura McKee) of Chicago, IL, Richard Denio (Rebecca) of El Cerrito, CA, and Susan Denio of Newark; sister, Ruth Frazee; brother-in-law, John Steinmetz (Barbara Riley); and grandchildren, Alyssa Boge, Eric and Emily Denio.
A visitation for family and friends will be held from 10 am until 11 am on Saturday, April 29, 2023, at Spicer-Mullikin Funeral Home, 121 West Park Place, Newark, DE, where a memorial service will begin at 11 am. Luncheon to follow at Deefield. Interment will be held privately.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Al’s memory to the Sierra Club – Delaware Chapter, PO Box 2005, Wilmington, DE 19899 or online by clicking here or National Alliance on Mental Illness, PO Box 49104 Baltimore, MD 21297 or online by clicking here.
18 Condolences for Allen A. “Al” Denio
Stephen S. Gosch
Al was my dear friend for more than 50 years. We met shortly after I arrived in Eau Claire in 1969 and immediately began to commiserate over the Nixon presidency in all its creepiness. Our political dialogue continued through the 2016 election and 2020 defeat of the ultimate creep and helped me to better appreciate the real strengths of liberalism. For decades, Al’s witty newsletters cheered and inspired me and other the members of the UWEC faculty and staff union, as well as the members of the local track club. Al convinced me to run my first marathon. It did not end well but we agreed that I would try again. On our Sunday morning training runs, he used to double me up in laughter. He knew more jokes and had more fun telling them than anyone else I ever knew. I will miss his good humor and his humaneness. I cherish the memory of our friendship.
Al was a excellent example of a life well lived. I am grateful thathe was in my life and that I could spend some time with him during the later part of his life.
“Alchemist”. That’s how Al signed his missives, for that’s what he was – Al and chemist. I will forever treasure the many shared memories – our lengthy chats in my Brown Lab office, the Skipjack lunches with him and Burnaby Munson, the annual Nobel Chemistry Laureate “Passover” getogethers, our conflicting team loyalties (Al was a confirmed Packer Cheesehead and Bosox fan, while I have long rooted for the Eagles and Phillies), our differing tastes in beer (Al consistently ordered Dogfish Head, while I stayed with my tried-and-true Yuengling). He was, truly, a Man for All Seasons, and he will be sorely missed.
I knew him through Sierra Club. He was a truly good man, who cared deeply about the environment and the future. He was passionate about chemistry and his name was Al, and he delighted in signing himself as “Alchemist.” He will be missed.
Al was a friend, a very important part of lives. He kept in touch, sending articles about art, He was involved with our rights-a kind of union organizer-union guy- I trusted him He helped save (jobs) for quite a few of us..
We were very fond of the Denios. I was fussing over a tree that didn’t grow and , walking by, he suggested watering it and it grew like our friendship-about 25 feet. Love to all. Andy And Barbara Shafer-Eau Claire
Al was a great friend and saved our lives (jobs). We loved the while family. I was fussing over a tree that didn’t grow and Al, passing by, suggested watering it. It grew like our friendship-about 25 feet high. I will miss him very much. Andy S and Barb.
You and your family are in our thoughts during this time.
Raquel Farmer-Hinton and Family
John & Tina Killey
Always a treat to read the column from Al in the Indianhead Track Club newsletter from Eau Claire, WI!
Tom – I am so sorry for your and your family’s loss. Sending hugs,
Al leaves many hearts feeling his loss. Special condolences to his family and close friends.
I am so sorry to hear about the passing of Mr Denio. He was a patient I got to know briefly at Churchman Village, I being one of his therapists. He was an absolute joy to work with, a wealth of knowledge and extremely motivated to get well. I always enjoyed our conversations. May you find comfort in your cherished memories, and from the “God of all comfort” at this difficult time.-2 Corinthians 1:3,4
Dr Denio was a valued mentor and friend. What a gentle, good-natured guy! My condolences to the family.
Al retired from UWEC just before I joined the faculty in 1997. He quickly found out that I had been an active member of the ACS, and recruited me to the Central Wisconsin Section. When he moved back east, we kept in touch by e-mail, and by getting together at the national ACS meetings. Al always seemed to know where to get the best beer in town, and he did much to educate my beer palate. He was a good friend to me, and I have missed him not being at the meetings in recent years. My condolences to his family, and I hope that, like me, you take some comfort from the fact that he is now reunited with his beloved Val.
My condolences on your loss. I did not meet Al but his service to the Chemistry community was large and he will be missed.
Claire A. Simmers, Ph.D.
On behalf of all of us at DE Chapter of the Sierra Club, we’re so sorry to hear of your family’s loss. We truly appreciate the support to continue the environmental work Al championed. He will be with us in our journey to leave a habitable planet for our children, grandchildren and future generations.
Robert W. Ricci
I first met Al in graduate school at UNH. He was my big brother ( by 3 months!). Five years ago I moved to West Chester, Pa
and we renewed our friendship over lunches in Newark and West Chester. I will dearly miss him. He was a fine man.
I knew Al through the Delaware Chapter of the Sierra club. In 2003 I was on a plane headed to Victoria Island. In my backpack for reading material was a DE Sierra Club newsletter. Al wrote an inspiring article asking people to become involved in environmental issues. After this I worked with Al on a variety of air quality issues. Please accept my condolences. Al was a terrific guy with a wealth of knowledge and a person with great values.
I am so sorry that I will not be able to make the memorial service today, but I must help others remember how much Al meant to so many of us. As a fellow Chemist with a broad range of interests including educating the next generation, we got to know each other late in our careers through ACS, but our common roots of Wisconsin, the Packers, discussing the world over beers revealed Al to be one of the most interesting and caring people I knew. His invention of the “October Passover ( for Chemistry Nobel Prizes) ” was unique, enjoyable and will continue. He will be sorely missed but remembered for all he did. He never let age get in the way of continuing to contribute; a role model for us all. Rest in peace Al!