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Born: Oct 06, 1966

Date of Passing: Jul 29, 2020

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October 6, 1966 - July 29, 2020

We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of our son on July 29, 2020, in Winnipeg, MB, at the age of 53.
He was predeceased by his loving maternal mother Kathleen (Keough) Klassen and his brother Darrin Klassen. Dennis was the son of Richard and Rhonda Klassen and has two remaining siblings, Terry Baldwin (partner Bill Sisson, and children, Kelsey and Kurt Baldwin) and Kim Klassen (partner Jirka Kubik). Along with the wonderful mother of his children, Dr. Lisl Mayer, Dennis was a loving father to Jakob and Leo. His final year of life was spent adventuring with partner Cynthia LeBlanc.
Dennis was raised in Sanford, MB and moved with his family to St. Norbert, MB where he completed his General Surgery training at the University of Manitoba in 1999, and then assumed a community General Surgery position in Guelph, Ontario. He later completed a highly coveted fellowship in minimally invasive surgery at McGill University and in 2002 was recruited to Dalhousie as the first fellowship trained minimally invasive surgeon in Atlantic Canada. Over the subsequent 18 years, Dennis had a major role in advancing minimally invasive surgery in the Maritimes. He believed in continuing education, always partaking in training to advance his skills and share with others. As such he was known for his plethora of information on any given topic, even beyond his medical profession, always knowing something about anything.
He was an outstanding trainee educator and was recognized for his excellence in teaching of General Surgery residents, receiving the Silver Dever award five times throughout his 18 year career. He has been the Program Director for the General Surgery Resident Training Program, as well as the undergraduate Clerkship coordinator for General Surgery. He was instrumental in the initiation of the Dalhousie Minimally Invasive Surgery Fellowship Program in 2008, and has been a cornerstone in that program over the subsequent 12 years. As such, he has had a major impact on the training of 13 high quality minimally invasive surgeons.
Dennis was incredibly humble and travelled throughout the Maritimes teaching and mentoring in specific minimally invasive surgery cases in a non-threatening and collegial fashion. He was all about the work, nothing about the recognition. In serving as a reliable and effective hands-on surgical mentor in the learning curve of many Maritime surgeons, he had a profound impact on the safe implementation of new technology to the betterment of patients. This has likely been the single most important element in driving the widespread and thoughtful adoption of many minimally invasive operations throughout the Maritimes.
Dennis won the Wayne Putnam award for outstanding contributions to the continuing education of Maritime physicians. His teaching style was best described as kind, calm and understated. Many colleagues contributed to the Youtube channel, 'Dalhousie Minimally Invasive Surgery', giving accolades and testament to Dr. Klassen's excellence in his field and as a caring, patient and admirable individual. Dennis will be deeply missed and always loved, impacting many people's lives from around the world. And although regarded as an outstanding clinician and teacher, Dennis was perhaps best known for his collegial, supportive and kind approach to his work. Thus, the annual Dr. Dennis Klassen Award is being established to recognize a physician within the Division of General Surgery (staff surgeon, fellow or resident) at Dalhousie University/QEII Health Sciences Centre, who best displays the characteristics of professional kindness.
Due to community gathering restrictions at this time, a funeral will be organized in the future when constraints are lifted and it is safe for people to convene.
In lieu of flowers a fund is being established to honour Dr. Klassen's contributions to General Surgery in Canada through the Canadian Association of General Surgeons, and will be used to advance and promote the types of skills and training he spent his career learning and teaching. Donations can be made 'in honour of Dr. Dennis Klassen' to the Canadian Association of General Surgeons at
The family would like to thank the staff at the St. Boniface Hospital for their exceptional care.

Chapel Lawn Funeral Home

As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Aug 01, 2020

Condolences & Memories (12 entries)

  • Dennis was a classmate of ours in medical school at University of Manitoba. He was a dear friend and well-liked by everyone. We knew him particularly well as part of a cohort of classmates collectively referred to as “The Comedians”. (P.S. MORE VOLTAGE!) - Posted by: Doug Eyolfson & Sowmya Dakshinamurti (Friends) on: Aug 15, 2020

  • Out sincere condolences Richard and Rhonda and family. We also just found out today. We haven’t seen Dennis since Stan’s Sanagro days, but Fred and Eleanor spoke of him with admiration. We are so sorry for the loss at such a young age, and with so much life left to live. - Posted by: Stan and Joanne Clark (Friend of family) on: Aug 12, 2020

  • So sorry for your loss Rhonda and Richard. I just found out today. I have good memories of Dennis as a happy kid when I worked at Sanagro. He garnered respect when we worked together during his surgical residency In Winnipeg and in the years since was always a pleasure to see when our paths occasionally crossed. - Posted by: Fred Clark (Family friend and colleague ) on: Aug 12, 2020

  • My Dear Rhonda and Richard, I am so terribly sorry to hear of your loss. May you be spared further sorrow. With much love Susan - Posted by: Susan Curry (Friend) on: Aug 08, 2020

  • Dennis had a profound impact on my training and career. I remember his kindness and his great sense of humour. He will be missed and always will be remembered. - Posted by: Andrew N Beckett (Trainee) on: Aug 06, 2020

  • We are so sorry for your loss Richard and Rhonda. - Posted by: Lori and Philip Grandmont (Parent’s neighbor) on: Aug 03, 2020

  • Dear Richard, Rhonda, Terry , Kim and family, We are so sorry to learn of Dennis's passing. We are thinking of you and your family during this difficult time. - Posted by: Erica Holland (Wiens) (childhood friend) on: Aug 03, 2020

  • My heart is with the Klassen family today.... we have lost too many way too young. As always be strong.. he will be beside you forever uncle Richard and family just as Gord Klassen is with us xox - Posted by: Marcia Klassen (Cousin in law) on: Aug 03, 2020

  • My sincere condolences to the entire family, especially Jakob and Leo. Dennis was an incredibly intelligent, kind, and articulate guy. And very funny. If his career path had not taken him to medicine and surgery, I have no doubts that he would have done well in stand-up comedy. His sense of humour and ability to tell a story will always remain with me. - Posted by: James Greig (Friend) on: Aug 03, 2020

  • We are so sorry for your loss Richard and Rhonda. Your son contributed greatly to this world in his short life. - Posted by: Lori and Philip Grandmont (Parent's neighbors) on: Aug 02, 2020

  • To the Klassen family, Dennis’ death is a huge professional loss. I can only imagine the personal loss. My thoughts and condolences are with you at this time. I hope his kindness will live on. - Posted by: Janet Walker (Colleague) on: Aug 01, 2020

  • I was so sorry to read this today - please accept my condolences and prayers. May his memory be a blessing - Posted by: VERN HENRY (friend) on: Aug 01, 2020

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