Dennis Wayne Haga died at his home at 1 p.m. in rural Pawnee County on May 4, 2020, after winning a battle with cancer. He was 64 years and 27 days old. He is now studying with the Great Father of the Universe, understanding the role that Jesus Christ plays in making that transition, while maintaining a peaceful and loving connection to his loved ones and to Mother Earth.
His service was held Friday, May 8, 2020, at 10 a.m. in the Pawnee Nation Round House. Pallbearers were his sons Joshua, Jason, Micah, and Isaac Haga, plus Russell Davis and A.P. Daugomah. Honorary pallbearers were his cousin Len Justus and Pawnee Nation College student Tim Allen. His final resting place will be in the Maramec Cemetery. Arrangements were handled by Poteet Funeral Home and Cremation Services.
Dennis was born at the Pawnee Municipal Hospital on April 7, 1956. His parents were Clifford and Loudella Haga. He grew up on the farm of his parents and grandparents in one of the oldest farmhouses still in existence in Pawnee County.
Dennis graduated from Pawnee High School in 1974 and was Class President. He graduated from Oklahoma State University with a BS in Biology in 1979 and went on to obtain his Master’s Degree in Biology in 1984 from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah. He published a paper on the endangered gray bats in northeastern Oklahoma and won many awards for his excellence in teaching and research. He taught at Chelsea Public School from 1979 to 1996, then at Tulsa Community College from 1996 to 2008. Hired by Dr. Todd Fuller to be the Science instructor at Pawnee Academy (now Pawnee Nation College) in 2008, Dennis was still teaching there at the time of his death.
Dennis married Gwen Hicks on January 2, 1981, and they raised 4 sons: Joshua, Jason, Micah, and Isaac. He also raised chickens and all kinds of vegetables. His favorite lap cat was Frogger, and he loved his chickens, especially the roosters.
In recent years, his science classroom and lab were moved to the basement of the Albin LeadingFox Building on the Pawnee Reserve. It was with great glee when he stated that it was the first time in his academic career he could display all of his science artifacts in one place. The old greenhouse was restored, and a garden was planted. When the PANI-O Garden project started, as an old country boy would say, “He was in hog heaven.” Consequently, he spent countless hours and weekends, even holidays, there along with his sons, Deb Echohawk, Pawnee Nation citizens, Kim Murie and other PNC faculty and staff, faculty from Oklahoma State University, students, and several other volunteers. He was even blessed to have Montse Leon from Mexico and other international students who worked with him on the PANI-O Garden project. He also designed and built the Pawnee Nature Trail which weaves along the Black Bear Creek.
Dennis was preceded in death by his parents and grandparents. He is survived by his wife Gwen and their children; plus his older brother Tommy Haga; and two daughter-in-laws, Regina (Joshua’s wife) and Christina (Micah’s wife). He also leaves behind multiple friends, other relatives and countless students that remember him as their favorite teacher.
He will be remembered as a storyteller who was extremely likeable, funny, with a cunning wit, and totally dedicated to the teaching of science and inspiring others to improve their lives through the knowledge of science and to remember to protect planet Earth.