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Published: Wednesday, 5/14/2008

Camp ranger passed on spirit of Boy Scouts

DEFIANCE - Denzel E. Sines, 86, a Boy Scout leader who made scouting his life's work as ranger for 23 years at Camp Lakota in Defiance County, died Monday in his home here.

He had kidney problems and the last three years could not walk - an aftereffect of the polio he acquired at age 29 and overcame, his wife, Louise, said.

Mr. Sines retired in 1985 from Camp Lakota, where he was known as "Ole Ranger Denny."

He was in charge of the 640-acre site - building, maintaining, and repairing the camp as needed. He oversaw the construction of 48-acre Lake Glengary.

Rather than stay in the background, he got involved and influenced many, said Jeff Keller, who attended Camp Lakota as a Scout and worked there summers in high school and college.

Mr. Sines took time to teach the Scouts about the outdoors, the camp, and scouting. He paid particular attention to the boys who struggled, because of their backgrounds, or appearance, or maybe just because they were picked on, Mr. Keller said.

"He was a humble man, but he knew the influence he had on those kinds of kids," said Mr. Keller, who volunteers on service projects in support of the camp. "What he truly had was the spirit of what scouting is supposed to be. It wasn't anything fake or flamboyant. It was a true, caring spirit."

Jim Mathis, who was in charge of programs at the camp during the late 1960s and early 1970s, said Mr. Sines had high standards because "he worked his job like he owned the camp."

"You can't say enough good about the man," Mr. Mathis said. "Everyone liked him. He loved the kids. If there was a guy who ever lived up to the standards of scouting, he did."

Mr. Sines, during his years at Camp Lakota, was scoutmaster at Good Samaritan School and the Defiance Children's Home.

He received most major Boy Scout awards, including the Silver Beaver, the James E. West Fellowship, the St. George, and the Order of the Arrow.

But Mr. Sines told The Blade in 1998 that there was only one reward for his work: "Helping a boy make it through life. The reward is knowing you helped," he said then.

He helped boys who also were polio patients during his year-long hospital stay in Toledo. That work inspired him to become active in scouting, his wife said.

He was a cubmaster and scoutmaster in Fayette, Ohio, where the family lived then. Boy Scout executives got to know him and told him about the job opening at Camp Lakota.

"He always said it was the best move he ever made in his life - other than marrying me," his wife said. "He wanted to serve boys. I think that was the main reason."

Before that, he was - simultaneously - clerk of the trustees, clerk of the board of public affairs, clerk of the cemetery, and superintendent of waterworks for Fulton County's Gorham Township.

Mr. Sines grew up on a farm in Williams County and attended Montpelier High School. He left school because he had to help support the family after his father was burned badly.

He met his wife while driving a bread truck. She was on the route, and he asked her to a party. She said he'd have to ask her mother, who assented with, "He seems like a nice young man," his wife recalled.

In retirement, until about six years ago, he had a job driving cars from a local auto dealership to auctions in the Fort Wayne, Detroit, and Columbus areas.

The couple didn't travel much. He once won a trip for the whole family to the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico.

But for 35 years, Mr. and Mrs. Sines went to the annual covered bridge festival in Rockville, Ind.

"That was our time," his wife said.

Mr. Sines was a former member of the Fayette Volunteer Fire Department.

He was a member of what is now Defiance Christian Church, where he was a deacon, trustee, and youth leader.

Surviving are his wife, Alice Louise Sines, whom he married Oct. 2, 1940; son, Roger; brother, Loyal; eight grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.

The body will be in the Lawson-Roessner Funeral Home, Defiance, after 2 p.m. today. Services will be at 11 a.m. tomorrow in Defiance Christian Church, where the body will be after 10 a.m. tomorrow.

The family suggests tributes to the church, Camp Lakota, or a charity of the donor's choice.



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