Denton Paul Engstrom of Appleton, age 100, died peacefully with family at his side on June 12, 2023.
Denton was born on November 21, 1922, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, son of Fridolph and Lillian Engstrom. Raised in a tight-knit Scandinavian community in Northeast Minneapolis, he attended Salem Covenant Church and graduated from Edison High School in 1940 as class salutatorian. He entered the University of Minnesota and was drafted into the United States Army as a pre-med student at the beginning of World War II. He continued his medical training in the U.S. Army after the end of the war, graduating with an M.D. from the University of Minnesota in 1946. For three years, he served as a medical officer in San Antonio, Texas and Tacoma, Washington, and received psychiatric training at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Coatesville, Pennsylvania from 1950 to 1952. In 1960, he and his family settled in Appleton, Wisconsin where he entered a group practice in psychiatry and actively worked until his retirement in 1987. During this time, he also served as a resident psychiatrist at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital.
Denton married Esther Vanjae Noren on September 15, 1945. Together they had two sons, Robert and James. They were married for 58 years until her death in 2004. Denton was remarried in 2006 to Betty Steffens for eight years until her death in 2014. He met Barbara Rice in 2015, and they were special friends until his death. For many years, Denton spent winters in Sun City West, Arizona with his wife Van, and with his second wife Betty in Punta Gorda, Florida. He relocated permanently to Appleton in 2013.
Denton was a life-long learner with a keen intellect. He was an avid reader and thinker. His wide-ranging interests included historical Christianity, theology, scientific advances, and politics. Although he had strong opinions, he was also pragmatic and tolerant and found the best in people. He was a member of the First United Methodist Church in Appleton for six decades and expressed his faith through both spiritual and intellectual practice.
Denton is survived by his sons Robert (Kay Whipple) and James (Barbara Antley) of Atlanta, Georgia. He is survived by three grandchildren – Larissa Pottratz of Appleton, Scott Engstrom (Jamie Griesbach) of Appleton, and Amanda Engstrom of Saint Louis Park, Minnesota. He is survived by great-grandchildren Addison, Corinne, Logan, and Evelynn. He is also survived by several nieces and nephews, and stepsons Bruce, David, and Alan Steffens.
He is preceded in death by his first wife Vanjae Engstrom, his second wife Betty Steffens, and his brothers Warren and Russell Engstrom.
In addition to his beloved family, Denton had some special people who loved and provided care for him in his final years. Because of their care and concern, Denton was able to remain in his home until the last few months of his life. These people include Cyndee Smith, Jean “Beaner” Hiroskey, and Barbara Rice. Caregivers from Home Instead provided in-home services to Denton for more than three years. The staff at Edenbrook of Appleton and Theda Care Regional Medical Center – Appleton provided care during the final weeks and days of his life.
A memorial service will be held on July 1st at First United Methodist Church Appleton, 325 E. Franklin St., Appleton, WI, 54911. Informal visitation will start at 11:00 am, with the service beginning at 11:30 am.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to a charity of your choice.