by Brian Allen
I got to know Dennis Wheeler, who died of cancer on April 14 (see below for details on his memorial service this Saturday), after I became manager of the Seattle Go Center in 2008. He often went to our meet-up at Uwajimaya in the Chinatown-International District on Wednesdays, where Frank Fukuda was teaching. By 2010, he was responsible for the Uwajimaya group when Frank was traveling, and he took the lead there when Frank retired in 2013.
In October 2012, we were very happy to hire Dennis to be the Saturday manager of the Go Center, a position he continued until late 2019. Despite his long commute from Kent to reach the job, he was impressively reliable. Dennis enjoyed teaching beginners, both kids and adults. He used a gentle supportive style of teaching. His wife Vicki was often with him, and they would sometimes drive the long way home, giving rides to other go players who otherwise would have to wait for a bus.
Dennis was a kyu player, but an expert game recorder, one of the best. Sitting next to the tournament players, he would enter the moves as they happened into his laptop for distribution via Go servers such as KGS. Because of his recording skill, Dennis was invited to join the American Go e-Journal's U.S. Go Congress team many times to record the top boards of the tournaments for the e-journal, and he knew many of the strong players.
Posting as "xed_over", Dennis often contributed to online discussions about go. He encouraged beginners, and provided helpful advice on equipment and software. For more advanced players, he carefully explained how the differences between Japanese rules, AGA rules and Chinese rules played out. (Usually it didn't matter.)
Most of us at the Go Center knew Dennis as a tech guy, never very far from his laptop, but he got his start in traditional offset color printing in Texas, doing "prepress", that is, preparing plates for printing. He then made an early transition to "digital prepress", got involved in software and coding, was hired by Aldus Pagemaker, and moved to Seattle. Later, one of the companies he worked for was doing business with Japan. They had weekly lessons to learn to converse in Japanese. Dennis became familiar with kanji, and he learned about go. He was able to help me learn more about our visiting pros, because he could read some Japanese. His style was quiet and competent and friendly. I will miss him very much.
There will be a celebration of life for Dennis on Saturday, May 6th, at 1:00 p.m. at the Bellevue Church of Christ at 1212 104th Ave. SE, Bellevue, WA 98004. The church will be ready at 12:30 p.m. or view online here.
Brian Allen was a manager at the Seattle Go Center from 2008 to 2021. photos by Brian Allen.