Mitchell Denker (1947-2013)


1 Barbara DeMaro and Mitchell Denker, Madison, WI 

By Dewain Barber

     It has taken me a long time to come to terms with the loss of Mitchell.  He and I worked together on the GM Arnold Denker Tournament of High School Champions since the passing of his father, Arnold.  He was a genuine caring and concerned representative of his father’s legacy.  Mitchell’s legacy represents the second generation of the Denker and I am proud to have known him.

     During the years we worked together and with the support of the Chess Trust we saw the Denker event emerge as the “place to be” when it came to quality events available to high school players.  The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) made the event shine by providing a four year scholarship.

     Finally, Mitchell truly made every player feel comfortable and was pleased to see them and was proud of every state representative from Maine to Hawaii and Alaska to Florida.  He will be missed, but not forgotten.  Below you will find several obituary articles about Mitchell Denker:

Published in Chess Life Online, August 28, 2013.

Mitchell Denker died on Saturday, August 24 2013 in Leland, North Carolina. Mitchell’s father was two-time US Champion and Grandmaster Arnold Denker (1914-2005). Mitchell honored his father’s memory with continual support for the Denker, which was founded in 1985. 

His good friend, Barbara DeMaro of the US Chess Trust (where Mitchell served as a trustee) was pictured with Mitchell at the most recent edition of the Denker in Madison, Wisconsin. Barbara said:  “Mitchell was full of life, brilliant, kind, witty and generous! Mitchell truly cared about each and every one of the Denker participants. At the opening ceremony every year, as he greeted each participant, took their flag, he would say something funny or interesting to them that made them smile or laugh. I have lost a very, very dear friend and will miss him more than you know.”  

When asked about his passion for the Denker tournament of high school champions, Mitchell said, “I shared my father’s enthusiasm for helping young players.  When my father asked me to keep the tournament going after him, I agreed.  My son, Dylan, has also agreed to keep it going after me.”

Published in the Wilmington Star-News on Aug. 27, 2013.

Mitchell Denker, 66, formerly of Key West, FL, passed away on Saturday, August 24, 2013, in Leland, NC. He was born in New York City and lived on Long Island until his college years. When his parents, Arnold and Nina, moved to Florida, he followed, and lived in Florida most of his life; he completed college, studied law and practiced in Key West. In 1994 he and his wife Jaye, and their sons Dylan and DJ, moved to Belleview, Florida, where they lived for over 13 years. Chess was one of Mitchell’s passions and he has been a Trustee of the U.S. Chess Trust for several years, honoring his father’s memory with sponsorship of the annual Denker Chess Tournament for High School students, which provides a scholarship to the University of Texas to the winner. During his time in Belleview he served as the President of the Haas Fund, a charity for children in need of financial support for the arts and athletics, a member of the Belleview Zoning Commission, Chairman of the Grievance Committee of the Florida Bar Association, and as President of Shepherds Lighthouse, a live-in facility for battered women. He was also a traveler, taking every chance to get to see the world, particularly the parts least traveled by tourists. Two years ago, Mitchell, Jaye and Dylan moved to Wilmington, North Carolina, where he served at the Cape Fear Volunteer Center for the Big Buddy Program. In addition to his parents, he is predeceased by his beloved daughter, Jana Denker. He is survived by his wife, Jaye Holt Denker; son, Dylan Denker; stepson, Douglas R. Jones, III, sister, Randie Denker; brother, Richard; niece, Gaea Denker-Lehrman, and his Little Buddy, Tyrese Diggs.