Mitchell R. Denker

June 12, 1947 - August 24, 2013
Mitchell R. Denker

Mitchell R. Denker, 66, formerly of Key West, FL, passed away on Saturday, August 24, 2013, in Leland, NC.

H e 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 travelled 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.

A memorial service will be held at a later date in New York.

Please share memories and condolences wit the family by clicking on the “guest book” tab above.

Wilmington Funeral & Cremation, 1535 S. 41st Street, Wilmington, NC 28403 910.791.9099


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  • August 28, 2013
    bertha cubria mira says:
    I AM SO DEEPLY SADDEDNED WHEN I READ OF MITCHEL'S PASSING. MY THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS GO TO THE FAMILY FROM ALL OUR FAMILY IN KEY WEST. HE WILL BE MISSED DEARLY. LOVE AND BLESSINGS...BERTHA MIRA, TINO CUBRIA AND FAMILY.

  • August 26, 2013
    Harold Winston says:
    Always enjoyed talking with Mitchell at the US Open and at meetings of the US Chess Trust. All the trustees appreciated his interest and concern and good sense of humor. He was devoted to supporting the Arnold Denker Tournament of HS Champions and he had many ideas about that event. I am the Chairman of the Trust.

  • August 28, 2013
    Barbara A. DeMaro says:
    Mitchell was full of life, brilliant, kind, witty and generous! He was a long-standing trustee on the U.S. Chess Trust Board and served without compensation. There aren't enough words to express how great of a person he was. I once met his court stenographer years back. He said he was brilliant and the best litigation attorney he ever worked with! 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. Everyone Mitchell came in contact with loved him from hotel staff to presidents. He was an angel who touched everyone. I have lost a very, very, dear friend and will miss him more than you know. Barbara A. DeMaro

  • August 27, 2013
    John Rolli says:
    Oh, Mitchell! You're gone too soon! Able to keep multiple conversation threads going simultaneously, like reading a Tim Dorsey book. Crazy brilliance, Leonardo like breadth of knowledge. Memories of the house on Stump Lane!

  • August 26, 2013
    Paul Lehrman says:
    Mitch was one of the funniest, most intelligent and generous people I have ever met. He did everything on his own terms, and strangely enough it usually worked out fine for him. He was a superb trial lawyer who would do his best trial prep from his bed. He knew where the best food in the Keys was, but his fridge had only a few slices of moldy mystery cheese ( I think it was cheese). He was worldly and well-travelled, yet in some ways naive and over-trusting. He had lots of friends, yet he somehow seemed lonely. In the past few years I lost touch with Mitch. His death hit me with surprising force. He died way too young. I'm really going to miss him. Goodbye Mitch.