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2007 January 24: Dennis Balke

Dennis Balke, 63, died January 24, 2007 after a sudden illness. Denny grew up in Highland Park, Illinois and graduated from Drake University with a BS in Pharmacy. He is survived by his wife Claudia, sons Scott and Brian, and stepsons Steve, Robert and Ronald Keller. Denny was a district manager in the Chicagoland region until 1976 when he relocated to New England and was a district manager up through 1991 prior to leaving Osco. At the request of his family, donations can be made to: American Heart Association 2 Wall Street Manchester, New Hampshire 03053

I first met Dennis Balke when he was in Personnel working for Ed Buron in (the then) Osco Chicago division. When I was made a District Manager, Dennis was one of my store managers at 2229 Lewis Ave. in Waukegan, Illinois. I was impressed by his attitude, leadership and wonderful sense of humor. In 1977, when I was running the Eastern Region of Osco, we had an opening for a District Manager and I immediately picked Dennis, because I knew he would provide excellent leadership and a pleasant, positive environment for all the managers and associates in the district. We worked together until 1985, when I was transferred to Denver, Colorado to manage the Skaggs Drug Store Region. Dennis had a great knack of being able to make lemonade out of a lemon. Always positive, was great at handling difficult personnel situations and extremely insightful as a District Manager. Many families, I’m sure, are grateful for the friendship and inspiration Dennis provided over his many years as a DM. Everyone in his district was his family; he knew everyone personally in every store. A big guy, with a big heart, a great attitude and just a lot of fun to be with. I think of him often and know others must too, for he was a real partner and friend. Dave Maher


Dennis was a friend, a mentor and a boss. Dennis lived life to the fullest in all that he did; he worked as hard as he played. We worked together for many years in New England and I have many fond memories of our district and our outings. We named our District softball team for him, Balke’s Bombers. He launched my career with Osco and many others along the way. Dennis had the ability to bring the best out of people with his unique style of mentoring and coaching. We miss him.

Gary and Jane Hunstiger


I worked with Dennis back in New England with Osco Drug. The good old days! When Dennis walked into a room, the room lit up. His personality was contagious and he was always funny. AS a young manager, he treated me with respect and kind words. He would take me to the side and tell me words of wisdom on how to be successful with Osco. Well, 32 years later I am a District Manager with CVS and think of Dennis often. A funny story about him and Johnny Burke, after one of our meetings, they tried to get us to go swimming at a very cold lake. I decided to observe, Dennis and John run to the pier and jump in. The problem was, the water was two feet deep and rocky. We laughed all night long as they complained about their cuts and bruises. We will all miss Dennis and wish his family all the best. Ron Cardarelli


We met Dennis in 1961 at Drake University in the College of Pharmacy… a very long time ago. Close to 40% of our class joined Chicago OSCO upon graduation in 1966. For a short time, we also lived in the same subdivision in western Naperville, Illinois. So we did have a lot in common in our early days – especially prior to his move to New England. Having been asked to speak of the early days, I clearly remember that Denny was usually the life of the party – full of enthusiasm, with a ‘can do’ attitude. Those of us who studied at Peggy’s and Tony’s Bars in Des Moines, Iowa took the pledge of silence years ago – besides I can’t really remember a lot of detail from those years, but let’s say that Denny’s presence was always felt. His leadership style was fun loving and yet sincere with special focus on the person while still expecting the task at hand to be accomplished. While a large presence physically, Denny had a gentle trait about him that combined with his height and his high level integrity, assured his place as one of the young leaders of OSCO in the 1970s and 1980s. He is missed by all.

John and Barb Dvorak

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