‘My relationships at Newman saved my life’: David Denny’s story

Dec 09, 2022
David and Nancy Denny with grandkids (courtesy photo)

David Denny, a Newman alum who graduated in 1984 with a degree in both marketing and business administration, shared how Father Tom Welk and the relationships he made at Newman saved his life. 

Denny transferred to Newman University after attending Allen County Community College. Newman wasn’t his first choice and he said it didn’t even cross his mind until he received a call that they were trying to rebuild the tennis team after a hiatus for a period of time. This opened doors and eventually led him to Newman.

Aside from playing tennis, Denny was also involved in the Student Government Association. He even said he sometimes filled in for the mascot, ran intramurals and more. 

When Denny first came to Newman it was his first experience with a Catholic environment, as he was raised Lutheran and had only been around mostly Christian religions. He said Welk and many of the other people and relationships he made during his time at Newman helped push him in the right direction. 

“I was a nice and funny guy but also wild,” Denny said.

Of all the people who like to “party” during their college and young adult years, Denny was one of them. He would always stay out late at night until one day he went to Mass and it gave him a new view on life.

“Father Tom told me I needed to start coming to Mass and so I started going to Mass all the time. I think (the idea of) eternal life started sinking into me and ‘What do you want to be’ and or ‘Do you want to be known as a partier your whole life?’ It took a lot of years to get (out) the wildest side of me,” Denny said. 

During an evening of partying, Denny suffered a serious injury to his right wrist — his dominant hand for tennis. Denny said he had to endure surgery with no anesthetic and the doctors told him he would probably never be able to use his hand again. 

Mass in St. John's Chapel, 1980s
Mass in St. John’s Chapel, 1980s

“It took me six months to just move one finger, but by the next year, I was the number one tennis player again. It was kind of a miracle in a way and it woke me up. Then I began hanging around people that were really good people,” Denny said. 

As he began going to Mass and surrounding himself with other students who also went, he felt like a new person. Denny also said he attributes Welk for being such a great influence on his life and for being able to talk to him and go on retreats and trips that he sponsored. 

 “Being around Father Tom, talking to him and then listening to his sermons just makes you start to think more about the bigger picture of life,” Denny said. 

After graduating from Newman, Denny said his life has been “fantastic.” Denny has been working in aerospace for 34 years with several companies where he has had roles as vice president and more. 

Being around Father Tom, talking to him and then listening to his sermons just makes you start to think more about the bigger picture of life.

David Denny ’84

“I wanted to have a new position and something different to do as I’m getting ready to retire. So I am now a senior manager in quality at Spirit AeroSystems,” Denny said.

Father Tom Welk offers Mass near the Marian Grotto outside of Sacred Heart Hall.
Father Tom Welk offers Mass near the Marian Grotto outside of Sacred Heart Hall.

Denny said is extremely thankful to Newman, Welk and all the people he met along the way as they helped shape him into the husband, father and man he is today. 

“Every person that I became friends with at Newman I believe I could call today and they would do anything to help because they are that good of people. I don’t know if Newman just attracts great people, which I think they do, but I think it also has to be that the school helps to form great people because that’s what happened in my case,” Denny said. 

Denny would like to give special recognition to some of the individuals who left a positive impact on him during his time as a Newman University student:

  • Dave & Jeff Alfaro
  • Greg Lohkamp
  • Monty Schreiner & Joyce Schreiner
  • Dr. Diana “Ford” Crook & Randy Crook
  • Jerry Thimmesch & Lisa Thimmesch
  • Nancy “Kerschen” Burger & Greg Burger
  • Mark & LeAnn Simon
  • Lonnie Lollar
  • Randy & Janette Brooks
  • Mark & Ann Fox
  • Rod & Mary Gorges
  • Mike Boston
  • Dr. Bart and Melissa “Ewald” Grelinger
  • Laura McMillan
  • Irv Meyer

“Looking back there was a high probability that I would have died if it had not been for the love and guidance that I received from Father Tom, my lifelong Newman friends and most of all my wife, Nancy, that made my life a wonderful Catholic life. God bless them all,” Denny said. 

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