John R Dean |

John R Dean

John R Dean
Provided Photo
John R Dean

March 9, 1932 – September 18, 2021

On September 18, 2021, John R Dean passed away at the age of 89 years young, at his beloved home in South Lake Tahoe. As a long-time resident, John was known to many in the area and especially appreciated for his “calling card” of home-made cookies and brownies delivered to regular clients and friends.

Born in Detroit, Michigan in 1932, John received an Electrical Engineering degree from Lawrence Technological University in 1953 and worked as an aerospace engineer for eight years, including work on some of the Apollo space missions.

He met his wife Shirley Phillips while supporting test rocket launches in Alberta, Canada. They were married in 1957 and had two children, Leslie and Randy. Shirley and John divorced in 1970.

After a five-year stint at Western Hydraulics showing farmers how to use hydraulic systems on their farming equipment, John moved with Randy and Leslie to South Lake Tahoe in 1975, where he eventually became a general contractor, building several custom homes and providing home remodel and repairs throughout his last 45 years.

John raised the children on his own. At every turn, his wisdom, integrity, generosity, pride and love for his kids rang loud and clear. Randy and Leslie both received University degrees and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. There they built successful careers, in no small part due to John’s parenting skills and guidance.

John was a generous and caring man always ready to help, from volunteering his contracting skills at the Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care to dog sitting for his friends. John made friends easily and helped them whenever he could. His love for his family was deep and he always enjoyed opening his home to their visits so they too could enjoy all that Tahoe offers. Outdoors, John particularly enjoyed cross-country skiing, mountain biking, hiking, and lots and lots of dog walks. Dogs were John’s second love in life after family. Over the years he provided a loving home to at least 11 dogs and a few cats. An avid animal lover, he would do what he could to help any animal in need.

John’s final weeks were eventful, first packing his jeep and evacuating himself from the Caldor fire, adjusting to life with his daughter and son-in-law for two weeks, and returning home to Tahoe with them shortly before his death. We were all thankful for the chance to spend our final days together in his favorite place.

John is survived by his daughter Leslie K Dean, son-in-law John Graybeal, sister Mary Demlow, sister in-law Phyllis Dean and many nieces and nephews. He is predeceased by his brother William Dean in early 2021, his son Randy in 1993, and ex-wife Shirley Dean in 2003.

Consistent with his modest approach to life, John requested no memorial service or other special commemoration. In lieu of flowers, he and the family request donations to Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care ( or Best Friends Animal Society ( People who wish to share memories of John Dean are encouraged to add to the on-line memorial page at

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