Thursday, April 22, 2021

Former Belleville Mayor Dennis Fassett is mourned

Dennis G. Fassett
Dennis G. Fassett, 85, who was a former Mayor of Belleville, the first Westland Community Relations Consultant and a Managing Editor of Associated Newspapers, died peacefully at his home in Pennsylvania April 8.

Mr. Fassett was born July 25, 1935 at his parents' Dearborn home. He graduated from Fordson High School in 1954 and joined the U.S. Army where he served with the military police in Germany. Following his service in the army, he returned home in 1956 and began to attend college on the G.I. Bill. He moved to California to attend Los Angeles Community College and then transferred to the University of Southern California where he earned his bachelors degree in electrical engineering. 

He returned to Michigan for a job with Bendix Corp where he was employed for 17 years, working on the Apollo space mission launches.

His interest in local politics, he once wrote, was sparked by his time in California, and he was determined upon his return to Michigan to become involved in municipal government, “hopefully to improve a bad situation that I felt existed in my community,” he wrote.  He joined the League of Democratic Voters where he served on the board of directors, was a Democratic precinct delegate, worked on the Westland Board of Canvassers and was on the Executive Board for the Democratic 15th District.

Mr. Fassett took a leave from his political activity when he joined the staff of Associated Newspapers in November of 1976. He and owner and publisher David J. Willett shared many an adventure during his time as managing editor of the weekly publications, even traveling together to Taiwan on a public information tour.

“Many of our adventures were best left undiscussed publicly,” Willett said with a smile. “Those were some good years and Dennis is a man who will be missed.” 

Mr. Fassett became interested in the burgeoning phenomenon of cable television and utilizing his engineering background established his business, Cable Management Associates, in 1978. The company was instrumental in the negotiation of several municipal cable contracts throughout the area including Wayne and Westland. Mr. Fassett was personally responsible for negotiating the municipal ownership of WLND in Westland.He also served as the Community Relations Consultant for the City of Westland for seven years until 1991. 

He served as the mayor of Belleville from 1995 until 1998 while continuing to operate his  cable consulting firm based in the city. He eventually moved to Canton Township following the sale of his Belleville home while maintaining many of the friendships he had developed in the community.

After meeting and marrying his wife, Alvira, the couple moved to a golf-course home at Sugar Springs near Gladwin in 2013, where he enjoyed his long-time passion for the game. He also developed a great enthusiasm and interest in his wife's harness racing horses.

“One of the last things he wanted to do was go see the horses and take some more photos of them,” his wife said. “He really loved them and he loved photography.”

The couple returned to Mrs. Fassett's home state of Pennsylvania about a year ago as Mr. Fassett's health continued to decline due to the onset of dementia, his wife said.

She recalled Mr. Fassett as a “real gentleman” and said during their 8-year marriage she had never heard him lose his temper or be less than considerate of the feelings of others.

“He was really a wonderful man.  He was also a deeply religious man, although he would never admit it,” she recalled.  She said the special relationship Mr. Fassett shared with her daughter was typical of his genuine concern for others. “They shared a deep bond and she adored him,” she said. 

In addition to his wife, Mr. Fassett is survived by his four children, Dennis P. (Marily); Mark (Rita); Scott (Melissa) and Jennifer (Ron) Imos; eight granddaughters and one grandson along with two stepchildren, Carole Petty and Jeff (Kathy) Petty.

A memorial service by Zoom took place for Mr. Fassett last week.