Eau Claire – Stephen (Steve/Lugger) Karl Dennis, age 75, passed away on October 23, 2016 at Milestone Senior Living Memory Care Facility in Eau Claire, WI due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease.

Born on August 27, 1941 in Eau Claire, to Roy and Mary (Walter) Dennis. Steve was the 4th of 7 children. He married Kathleen (Kathy) Ronningen on August 3, 1974 in Hammond, WI. Together they had two sons, Todd and Paul.

Steve graduated from Eau Claire Memorial High School in 1959 where he lettered in football and wrestling. Following high school, Lugger began a career in refrigeration and pipe fitting at Benedict Refrigeration Service Inc. John Benedict remains a lifelong friend of the family. Lugger worked as a union pipefitter for 35 years on many job sites in the Upper Midwest before retiring in 2001. He was an active member, elected President during a period in the 1990s, of UA Local 385 (later UA Local 434) for 50 years. Steve enjoyed hunting and fishing throughout his life. Karl Walter, his special uncle, was an avid partner joining him on fishing trips to Canada and hunting trips to Northern WI and out West. His sons and best friends/fellow fitters, Larry Rehberg and Wayne Johnson accompanied him on many hunting and fishing adventures. aviary-photo_131218079816478433

Steve’s life is continued through his wife of 42 years, Kathy, sons and daughter-in-law, Todd and Paul (Tara) Dennis, and granddaughter, Anne. Stephen is survived by his brothers; Edgar (Carolyn), Patrick, Jim (Barb), and Richard (Vicki); sister, Kathleen (Dick) Zimmerman; many nieces & nephews; and numerous cousins.

Steve was preceded in death by his parents; Roy and Mary Dennis, his brother; Michael, and father-in-law and mother-in-law; John and JoAnn Ronningen.

A Celebration of Life will be held on Wednesday, November 2, 2016 at the VFW Post 305 on Starr Ave in Eau Claire from 3:00 – 6:00 pm. Smith Funeral Chapel is assisting the family with arrangements.

His family wishes to express special thanks to his primary provider Dr. Dennis Auth and the caring staff at Milestone Memory Care. Their awesome team did a great job of taking care of Steve; thank you: Chris, Esther, Haleigh, Kirsten, Robbie, Sandra, Shantel, Kelly, and Emily.

Memorials preferred directed to Shriner’s Hospital 2025 East River Pkwy., Minneapolis, MN 55414 or to Leader-Telegram 2016 Warm the Children Fund, 701 S. Farwell St., Eau Claire WI 54702.


  1. Kathy to you and your family, we wish you all the best during this trying time in your lives. Taking care of Steve was absolutely a gift and we thank you for sharing him with us! His laughter, his need to tinker and his attempt at a stubborn attitude was always a highlight in our day! Steve and his beautiful smile will be missed here as will your laughter and incredible sense of humor! We wish you well.

  2. In the short time we new Steve, he was a lovely, gentle man with a sense of humor. Our sympathy to you and your family. Memories will always live on in our hearts.

  3. Tom and I have been friends with steve for soo many years, and cherish the memories of all the fun times we had with him and Kathy and also have such happy memories of all the wonderful vacation,s we had together. Rest in peace Dear Friend, we will truly miss you.

  4. We got to know Steve when he lived I Woodville, Wi. My sons, John and Eric mowed his lawn for him. He took them and me to a cabin he had up north some where and we spent a day swimming and fishing. He was a good, generous man. The Obituary didn’t mention that he tried out for a position with the Green Bay Packers. I’m sure he would have done well if they had drafted him. Rest in peace my friend.

  5. Hey Lugger, see ya on the other side huh, glad I could have a beer with ya at the last lunch for the class of 59, lots of good times growing up, Chuck

  6. I will miss your visits to Uncle Karl’s farm. You are now with great company and I am sure you are smiling down at us old folks. Be sure to save us some room as you well know there are alot of us to follow. To your family I will add your name to the ever growing list; rest assure you will not be forgotten. Again my condolences and prayers to the family.

    Your Cuz – Mark Walter

  7. My condolences to the “Lugger” family. I came to know Steve during the ’80’s on numerous construction projects and became friends. He liked to come across as a pit bull, but he was really just a pussy cat at heart. Rest In Peace my friend.

  8. Diane and I send our condolences, I think back and remember all of the years we have known Steve, I remember when he became a Brother Member in Local 385, the Good times we all shared, the union meetings, Christmas Party’s etc. I remember first meeting you Kathy when you began your life with Steve. A picture comes to mind of the boys at a time when they were were young at a picnic we all attended. All of the good memories when I think Steve and remember my Friend. He will be missed by all of us, Friends , Fellow Union Brothers, but Most of all, By you Kathy and your family. You are very much in our thoughts and prayers at this time of your great loss. Sincerely, Dick & Diane

  9. Wow – the death of a fine man. Our hearts ache for you. Our prayers follow you.
    Dorothy Sorlie
    Jim Urness

  10. Kathy, I was so sorry to hear about Steve. Great guy. Have many wonderful memories elk hunting with him. Always giving the younger guys a hard time telling us we could not climb the mountain, shoot or hunt like him. He made those annual trips to southwest Colorado something special. Upon hearing the news, had to pull out photos from those hunts and they brought a tear to my eye and a smile to my face. He is a special man that will be missed. Lots of prayers for you and the boys.

  11. Dear Kathy and family,
    So sorry for your loss. What fond memories we hold dear in our hearts of Lugger.
    Always so great to be around. So proud of his family!! He always took time to catch up
    With what was going on in our lives and loved telling us about his. He was a very happy man and you can’t ask for more than that!! Our prayers are with all of you.
    With love,
    Jim & Judie Hagen

  12. I am so sorry for your loss. I absolutely loved caring for Stephen. He was such a wonderful man. His smile just lit up the room. He will be missed dearly!

  13. we knew Steve many years He was a such a good friend and his dog Snooper was a great neighborhood dog … he will be missed condolences to the family, it was such a great neighborhood to live in back then and he always made it safe for our family

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