Denis Ahern (1950-2019)

I am sorry to have to inform our readers that Denis Ahern (he went by the pen name Denis Ian when writing here), a regular contributor at Truth in American Education, has passed away. His friend and co-author for many of his articles, Michelle Moore, said he was found yesterday morning in his favorite spot, his writing desk. He was 68-years-old and is survived by his wife Megan, three sons (Dennis, Ian, and Brendan) and six grandchildren.

Denis was raised in New Rochelle, NY and Graduated from Iona Prep and received his Bachelor and Masters degree’s from Iona College. He was a  Social Studies teacher for many years at Mamaroneck High School retiring in 2006. In retirement, he devoted himself to educational advocacy that included writing at TAE.  

Denis brought a unique writing voice to TAE. I only knew him through our emails and his writing, but through that I could see his passion for students and was heartbroken over the kind of education they were receiving.

He once wrote, “There is no virtue in making children so brave that they might withstand the idiocy of adults.”

I could not agree more.

Denis and I emailed each other Saturday night over his last piece that we published yesterday. He wrote, “Not sure if you’d be interested in this piece … because you’re probably sick of me.”

I never was, and wrote back, “No actually I love it when you share articles with me.” And I did. He brought a perspective, experience, and voice to TAE that was very different than my own and I was happy to share that here.

Denis will be missed.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced, but I will update this piece when I learn more.

Update: Michelle emailed the funeral arrangements.

Denis’ wake will be this Thursday from 5pm-9pm at the Craft Funeral Home (40 Leicester St, Port Chester, NY 10573). His funeral will be this Friday at 10 am at Church of the Resurrection (910 Boston Post Road, Rye, NY 10580).

16 thoughts on “Denis Ahern (1950-2019)

  1. My condolences to his family and friends and to everyone at TAE. It is sad that his voice has been silenced, but his impact in education will continue through the people that he inspired.

  2. Denis was a class act and one of the most interesting people I’ve ever had the chance to know. RIP. Well done good and faithful servant.

  3. I’m just gutted. What a loss. I loved his old school approach to education and I will miss our conversations. What a lovely man.

  4. So sorry to hear of this great loss. My prayers and deepest condolences go out to his family. May he Rest In Peace. I will be forever grateful to him for his advocacy, the eloquence of his writing, for his knowledge of what responsible, true education should be, and for his willingness to speak up for it. RIP good sir…

  5. I knew Denis through his blogs and TAE. Even without ever meeting him in person I considered him a friend. I will truly miss him. Prayers to his family.
    We surely lost a fighter for our children.

  6. I’m heartbroken even though we’ve never met. He was such a brilliant writer who touched my soul with his words. I will miss him. My heartfelt sympathy to his family and friends.

  7. I woke up today, and all I could think about was the thunderstorm last night…last night with the pelting rain and the clapping thunder. I could not help but think that was him yelling at me and everyone to stop the crying about him and rejoice for him! LOL! He hated being the center of attention. He disliked accolades that were all about him and the mushiness of them…it was too sloppy for him. His famous words, ‘I’m nuttin’ special, just an old grey-haired man.” His accolades were his musings as we all know. He shared so much of his humility, laughter, celebrations, and regrets with us whether by the Denis-type works of literature of his Irish upbringing to teach us a life story or to make a point of something we were trying to accomplish. He explained to us through his poems, essays, and the many anecdotes he told us as a group or individually, one-on-one just you and him.

    I believe last nights thunderstorm was a sign…a message from him…with all my heart. Just wanted to share. Did you hear him last night because I did!  

    God Bless all who are mourning such a monumental loss of such a great educator. But he was so much more than that…HE was a “Mentor for Life” for so many of us. Whether Denis did this with us by being up close and in- person by chatting with him for hours under the summer wind on his deck. Or by phone, one-on-one if the timing was right. Of course, it would be right before the chaotic time of homework trying to find that right word for that meme we were working on or in between Denis going to pick up Aidan from baseball practice. Even better yet right in the middle of trying to whip up something that looked edible for dinner tonight for the children and hubby all while the same time we’re trying to figure out how the hell to get the Bd. of Regents/King (and now Elia) to listen to us! Yes, we had many of those. How can we forget those infamous PM’s which were plentiful at some wicked hour of 3 am? I’m sure many of us, those who knew him well, knew he would do some of his most prolific and rich writings at the ungodly hours between 3 AM and 4 AM, getting up and just going to his computer. He passed away doing what he loved and was passionate about most…him writing, telling a story or making a succinct and concise point, that Denis was so brilliant at doing.

    We were influenced by Denis one way or another. Sometimes he would even yell and get mad or angry, telling us “…to get back in the f*cking fight.” (That was just a sample of an excerpt I found from one of his PM’s to me this morning. His exact words he said me to one day when I was at a low point.) He did not mince his words when he was passionate about something when talking with us. The Irish came out in him. But as we know, it was done all with the love of that of a father-figure or of a grandfather, a True Patriarch. He was like that for me, and I know many of you as well. If we feel this way I’m sure his first love, his bride (as he would often call Megan) his dear his wife Megan of many decades along with his loving sons (Ian, Brendan, and Denis, Jr.), and his strapping, young lad of a grandson, Aidan (whom he adored and love endlessly) are indeed feeling truly such an immense loss, which will not not even compare to our grief of our feelings of loss that we have for Denis.

    I was so struck by their compassion and love for when I walked in the door yesterday of how comforting they were of me and the sorrow that I was feeling, which swept through me once I entered the doorway of Denis & Megan’s home. I was there to console them, and in the end, they were all consoling me, asking me to please celebrate him and it’s ok, hugging me, as I was wiping my tears away. Such a beautiful family surrounded by love and commitment, He built himself such a family legacy that will go on for generations. Baby Ella will have all these sweet memoirs of her grandpa. She too will learn those lessons of life. Those life lessons Denis often taught to hundreds and thousands of us nationwide. His writing were shared throughout this big and beautiful country of ours…from Falls of Niagara to the swampy Everglades of Florida, to the summer heat of Oklahoma, through the midwest winds of Missouri, climbing up to the mountains of Utah and Idaho, all the way to the sandy, pristine beaches of California to the winding highway of Big Sur. Because HIS writings taught all of us…that I’m sure of.

    Please keep them in prayers in the coming days. If you cannot make the services, please have a moment of silence for Denis this Friday at 10:00 AM. I will make sure to post something about the moment of silence for Denis as a gentle reminder to bow our heads in prayer or thoughts that you have of Sir Denis Ian.

    I love you Denis and will miss you but know you will always be with us in spirit. God Bless…See you on the other side my friend, my mentor, and grandfather I never had.

    1. read through wet eyes …… just beautiful ! I saw lightening, with a grumble of thunder – and it is winter, a rare, very rare event — had to be Denis, I believe! My deepest condolences to all his family and friends. At this very awful time, I hope they will receive the warmth written by all those he touched …..and wonder if they ever realized the mark he left behind, he did make a difference!

  8. Condolences. I will miss his writing style. Even though I didn’t agree with his opinion on some matters, it was evident that he always wrote from the heart and in the best interest of children and public education.

  9. Dear Megan, Denis, Ian, and Brendan,

    I am deeply sadden to have heard about such a great man passing. Sending my condolences to each and everyone of you. Denis was such an inspirational writer who advocated for the children who had no voice. We called him the Warrior. His blog Denis Ian blog was one of the best written blog that he co-wrote with another one of my friends Michelle Moore. Together they wrote this blog and it was loved by many. As a matter of fact, we all looked forward to reading these blogs. They brought light on the issues of education and more. The blogs were written for everyone to understand and make sense of what truly was happening in our education and other issues that were happening in the world.
    Many of us got to know Denis through his blogs. We may not have ever met him in person, or had coffee with him, but through his blogs, he wrote as though he knew you. Even his posts back to you were always kind and gentle. He wanted to make people happy…. and that he did.
    Denis will be greatly missed by everyone. He was one of a kind…special to the world. Thank you for sharing him with the world and for letting him share his blog with each and everyone of us. As I see it, the world was a better place with him because he touched each and everyone of us and he let you know that you were all special people. Always had a kind and positive thing to say to you. If you expressed that you were not having a bad day, he would comment with something inspirational and positive. He made you walk away feeling better and made you forget that you were even having a bad day. That’s how he was. Loved people and wanted you to feel that you were special and
    It is with heavy heart that one of our warriors passed away January 7, 2019. Denis Ian ….to us that is who we knew him as, but his real name was Denis Ahern…..
    Denis was such an inspirational writer. He gave us his blog that he co-wrote with my friend Michelle Moore. Together they took on education and more through their blog. It was one of the best blogs I ever read. Written for everyone to understand and some funny and witty spins written in to lighten up what was really happen in education and other sensitive topics.
    Denis always had something kind and nice to say about each and everyone us his viewers. He made you feel like you were part of the family, even if it was his blog family. We got to know him for years and seen him advocate for the children who did not have a voice.
    Denis was Social Studies teacher for many years at Mamaroneck High School retiring in 2006. In retirement he devoted himself to educational advocacy using the online pen name DenisIan.
    We have grown to know a special person who wore his heart on his sleeve. He made you feel like you were part of his family. Even if you were his blogging family. Always had something nice to say about each and every one of us. He was such a special, kind hearted person.
    I’m not sure that Denis knee joe much he made a difference in our life and how much he touched each and everyone of us.
    Denis is going to be greatly missed by all.

    Thank you Denis for all that you gave to us. We are going to miss you dearly….Heaven received one of the best inspirational writers I have had the pleasure of knowing….even if it was though your blogs…..Keep on writing… ✍
    ❤️

  10. I taught with Denis for more than twenty years. Thought you might want a colleague’s perspective. Denis was an an excellent teacher. He loved being in the classroom, he loved his students and they loved him. He was energetic, involved and his seriousness of purpose was complemented by his sense of humor. I did not know of his writing until now, and I am so glad he developed a way to express his ideas among like minded people. Educating until the end, which came far too early. May he Rest In Peace.

  11. I am saddened to hear of Denis’ passing. Although we grew too far apart in our world views, I will forever remember his powerful voice for children. Rest In Peace dear warrior.

  12. John Perlman Says

    Denis was my colleague at the Hommocks & Mamaroneck High School, much beloved by his students, a fine teacher.This comes too soon. I grieve for his family.

  13. I taught for over 20 years with Dennis. His passing comes as a shock. He was a fine teacher, much loved by his students.Too soon.

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