News Release – Renown Diné College Student, Rodeo Coach Karlets Dennison Passes Away

Renown Diné College Student, Rodeo Coach Karlets Dennison Passes Away


Jan. 04, 2021

TSAILE, Ariz. — A legend of the Diné College rodeo community passed away Jan. 3.

Karlets Dennison, a Diné College rodeo coach from 1992 to 2013 and an Indian National Finals Rodeo All-Around and Senior Team-Roping champion, died Jan. 3, according to a family member.

The cause of death was due to complications from the coronavirus (COVID-19). Dennison’s age was not immediately available.

A former student at Diné College, Dennison was part of the Navajo Community College rodeo team that qualified for the college’s first College National Finals Rodeo in Bozeman, Mont. The college name change took place in 1997.

“It is with tremendous grief and sadness that my children Kyle, Devyn, and Kassidy, my granddaughter Kennedy and I, announce the peaceful passing of my beloved husband, father, and grandfather, Karlets Dennison,” Debbie Jackson Dennison wrote in a Facebook post.

“(Karl), the humblest of men, was an accomplished rodeo athlete, rodeo coach, and cattle rancher. Friend to everyone, Karl never met a stranger. He was the type of person who would help anyone. Whether it be driving his kids to the rodeo, praying for his family, walking his daughters and granddaughter down the rodeo alleyway, sharing his love of roping and ranching with all his children, (Karl) lived the cowboy way, every day. He supported me and our children in obtaining all levels of education and goals.”

As rodeo coach at Diné College, Dennison was the first Navajo coach to send his all-Navajo team to the Grand Canyon Region Championship.

“He was a fixture at Diné College for years,”Diné College radio manager L.A. Williams said. “I’ve known the entire family for years. I used to ride his horses. He wasn’t just a coach, but a mentor, a friend and a teacher.”

The news of the death circulated around the college very fast.

“I worked with (Karl Dennison) when he was the rodeo coach here at Dine’ College,” Diné College Director of Enrollment Priscilla Leonard said. “He worked as the gym manager and I recalled how he encouraged and offered weight lifting tips to employees and students. It is very sad to hear about the passing of a former colleague.”


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