“We work in the dark – we do what we can – we give what we have.  Our doubt is our passion and our passion is our task.  The rest is the madness of art.”

-Henry James-

It is with profound sadness we share that Dennis passed away December 9, 2022, in Victoria BC.  Born in Victoria on May 19, 1936, Dennis spent his childhood surrounded by music and a love of exploring the Victoria area on his bike. He was cast as the male lead in his high school musical, The Rose of the Danube, where he met and fell in love with his leading lady, Ruth Sones. After completing the teaching program at Provincial Normal School, Dennis married Ruth and they welcomed their first daughter in 1957.  They relocated to Kitimat BC, where he established the music program in the burgeoning school district, working tirelessly as a community builder, advocating for, and sharing his love of music with not only his students but the broader citizenry. Two more daughters followed, and life was dedicated to enriching their home with the sounds of music of all genres. During these busy years he also pursued his Bachelor of Education through University of Victoria and his Masters’ Degree at UBC.   Not one to shy away from a challenge, Dennis relocated with his family to Vancouver in 1971, taking on the role of District Principal for the Performing Arts for the Vancouver School Board.  It was there that Dennis’ advocacy work for the arts really flourished. He fought for adequate arts funding both in the school district and the province, activity that garnered the nickname of Tupman’s Tough Tactics.  Throughout his career and continuing into his retirement, he was a passionate ambassador for and proponent of music education, acting as president for the BC Music Educators Association, the Canadian Music Educators Association and the BC Choral Federation.  In 2011 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Victoria, an achievement that sits alongside his many other accolades, including the Governor General’s Award for Lifetime Arts Leadership.  In his retirement to Green Lake in the Cariboo, Dennis continued to be recognized as an active community supporter, and was a regular contributor to both the provincial and national arts communities through interviews and published articles. After returning to Victoria in 2021, Dennis enjoyed reconnecting with friends and places from his past.   Variously described as a musician, educator, conductor, director, adjudicator, speaker, writer, philosopher, arts advocate, counsellor, humanitarian, environmentalist and family man, he made it his mission to understand and connect with all who crossed his path. To many, he was simply BBD or Poppy – an exemplary yet humble man, fun-loving and silly, one who was truly loved and will be greatly missed.

Dennis was predeceased by his wife Ruth in 2020, and leaves behind to feel his loss, three daughters, Raechel Tupman, Allison (Brad) Neumann and Denise Tupman, his 6 grandchildren, Matthew (Sayde) Neumann, Megan (Ben Pryputniski) Neumann, Andrea Neumann, Hayley (Aaron) Moldenhauer, Alex (Liam Thwaites) Gipps, and Kenny (Tristina) Gipps, and his 8 great-grandchildren, Aubrey and Grady Moldenhauer, Hunter Archibald, Mara and Thea Neumann, Lilly and Michael Gipps, and Poppy Thwaites.

A Celebration of Life will be held at Shaughnessy Heights United Church, 1550 33rd Ave W, Vancouver BC on Saturday, April 1st at 1 pm.

“Row row row your boat, gently down the stream,

Merrily, merrily, merrily merrily, life is but a dream.”

Condolences may be offered to the family below.

McCall Gardens


  • Dr. Adam Jonathan Con

    One of my earliest music education experiences was playing tenor saxophone at the Vancouver School Board Summer School of the Arts held at Eric Hamber Secondary, Vancouver in 1977. Dennis was the conductor/teacher and he was a larger-than life personality; I thought I was in the presence of the divine. His decades of advocacy work in music education had ripples throughout Canada. He was one of those human beings that inspired all of us to be better.

    Thank you to the Tupman family for lending us your “poppy” as he led the fight for arts education. He made such an impact wherever he went and I will be forever grateful. Rest in peace faithful servant.

    Dr. Adam Jonathan Con
    Music Education Faculty, University of Victoria

  • Shannon Doolan

    My heartfelt condolences to the Tupman family. I had the privilege of sharing clarinet parts in a number of 100 Mile House musical productions with Dennis and the unique experience of being his Dental Hygienist. Dennis blessed my life and will always be a precious memory.

    Shannon Doolan

  • Doug and Ainslie Thomson

    Doug and Ainslie Thomson
    It was a wonderful surprise to find Dennis in the Caribou as it was in Kitimat that we knew him best.
    I taught at Whitesail School where his three little girls attended.
    He was a frequent visitor to the elementary schools, demonstrating for us new music programs.
    His home was always open to us and we spent many enjoyable moments there.
    Dennis and Ruth even sang at our wedding.
    We also enjoyed his leadership in the United Church choir.
    Our condolences to the family.

  • Walt Sherry

    Dennis touched my life in so many positive ways. He was the one who mentored me to become a singer in our Community Choir. Through Dennis, I was privileged to meet and interact with many professionals in the music industry, Jack Glatzer- world renowned Violinist, Donny Clark-Jazz Trumpeter, Jane Coop-Concert Pianist, to name just a few. These and many other similar experiences enriched my live immeasurably and I will forever be grateful to Dennis.
    My deepest condolences to Dennis’s family.
    Rest in peace my dear friend.

  • Leah

    Always super happy to have great conversations with him at Fischer Place. I remember his kind spirit and great generosity when the facility movie TV broke on Christmas Eve, he went right out and bought a new one for our patients! Top notch man and really awesome family!! Your inspirational messages left on our windows when Covid hit, always provided colleagues and I with much needed inspiration! Thankyou greatly and Thankyou for always understanding and your sincere kindness !❤️

  • Ingrid Mapson

    Our dearest Dennis was such an inspiration to so many. He was one of my main inspirations in pursing my singing career and also loving support personally. As well he was supportive of my children musically. I admired his wisdom, knowledge in so many areas, kindness, support of the community musically, passion for education, and his devotion to his wife and family. Thank you so much.

  • Bruno Bandiera

    I was saddened to come across Dennis’ obituary, my condolences to the family. I was a member of the Mt. Elizabeth High School Band in Kitimat from 1960-1962. Fond memories, especially of our big band trip by rail down the length of B.C. and over to Victoria and back. Last met Dennis some twenty or so years ago at an informal campout / reunion at Green Lake. He was an inspiring educator and mentor whom I respected and admired.

  • Raechel Tupman

    Thank you for the wonderful tributes to Dad. It has really helped the family at this time of loss. I have been asked by several people where we would like any donations to go to. Here is the information.

    100 Mile & District Arts Council, Box 2262, 100 Mile House BC V0K 2E0

  • Jon Washburn

    I’m so sorry to hear about Dennis. He leaves a huge gap in the fabric of the world. I never left his presence without a heightened optimism about things, no matter what the current cause or project was. I will always remember him with a glow.

  • Renee Norman

    I am so sorry about Dennis’ passing. I will miss him. He was a dynamic force for the arts, & his legacy will live on in all the music & drama programs he championed.
    Those were heady days when all was imaginable, written in the notation of hope, heartfulness, inspiration, passion & possibility.
    Rest well, Dennis. You will be remembered.

  • Maddi Newman

    While Dennis lived in the community of 100 Mile House, I have to say I was something of a groupie. I wanted to be a part of whatever he was involved in. Of course that was mostly music. Even near the end, chatting with him a bit while we were both at Fischer Place visiting our spouses, my Jeffrey, his Ruth, we had a rich and meaningful conversation. I must look up some of our emails. They were like works of art. What an enormously special human being that man was. I feel very privileged to have known him.

  • Linda Baker

    I was lucky enough to get to know Dennis over the phone a year or so ago. I’d contacted him about Vic High Alumni information, and we talked about Vic High where he met Ruth. I also knew of his dad Frank, musical director at Metropolitan United Church where my grandmother was church secretary and our family very involved. We shared our mutual love of music, and he shared his and Ruth’s love of singing together. The last song they sang together took them back to where and when they met, Victoria High School’s song ‘Come Give A Cheer’. He and his stories touched me deeply, and I am grateful for the connection I had with him this past year. For some reason, he’s been on my mind for a month or so. Perhaps it’s his spirit reminding me of these heart connections, of the power of music, and with Ruth, of how love is really all there is. We are all the richer for our connection with Dennis, and Ruth.

  • Bill Gerry

    I have good memories of Mr Tupman in the mid 1950’s Kitimat, as a neighbor & teacher. My family lived at 23 Eagle St. Upper Village Kitimat immediately next door to Mr Calum, the Jr/Sr High School principal. Further down the block, 2nd house from the corner the Tupman family of three lived. Being the only young teen on the block I did much babysitting up & down our street including baby Raechal-then a happy giggly baby. Snowfalls in Kitimat were frequent 3’to 4′ dumps with only occasional snow plowing. One winter late evening most of the street residents were on the street, sledding, skiing & street hockey under the awesome crackling green aurora borealis. My Mom, Mrs Calum & Mrs Tupman organized hot chocolate for us kids and the Dads arranged some other beverages for the adults. 

    Mr.Tupman was both my Home Room & English teacher for Grade 8. Mr.T’s music classes were popular to the point where there were frequent after school hours sessions. His was a calm, patient voice in English classes & a very firm believer in reading all manner of books; history-novels-current affairs, explore the library. He also had some inflexible requirements for us when it came to report writing, some I implemented in my own career training staff. Mr. T was aware I was an avid reader & encouraged me to some challenging authors including Winston Churchill. For a Grade 8 student Churchill was challenging & Mr. T’s advice after marking my report I can still recall “read him again in a few years”

    It is often said most people when asked, can quickly recall a teacher or two who left a significant positive impact on their lives. I have two my Grade 12 Mathematics teacher & my Grade 8 English teacher Mr. Tupman. I find it a little ironic, I never, ever took a music class and remember him best as a strong advocate for reading and clear concise reporting.
    The many accolades listed emphasize the man was one hell of a teacher

  • Bob Rankin

    Dennis‘ life will continue to inspire and challenge us.

    Marg and I have been truly blessed over many years by coming to know Dennis and Ruth in Kitimat in 1968. What amazing examples their lives have been to us in so many ways, both personal and professional.

    Dennis truly made the world a better place by his life and example.

    Sincere condolences to his family.

    Bob Rankin

  • George Laverock

    So sorry to hear of Dennis’ passing. We worked together a lot in 1992-93 when he was the President of the organizing committee for the 1993 World Symposium on Choral Music in Vancouver. We had 1000 choral conductors and 40 choirs from around the world visit Vancouver for that week. Dennis was always so warm and positive, and I remember how in our planning meetings he emphasized that we must leave time in the proceedings for “conviviality”! A true legend in the musical life of British Columbia.

  • Virginia Barteluk

    I met Dennis when I was at UBC and he was one of my teachers or professors. We met at BCMEA conferences throughout the years. He was always interested in how you were doing and what you were doing. I’m sorry to not be able to attend his memorial service in April as we will still be overseas. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

  • Ken Austen

    My heartfelt condolences to all the Tupman family.
    Your Dad walked into my Grade 4 class in 1960 in Kitimat and loudly asked “Who wants to be in the band?” For some reason up went my hand. He took me through a musical journey for a few years through his junior and senior concert bands and town orchestra. He instilled in me the fundamentals which have kept me in a career and I am sure others, in professional music for the last 50 years. I will always be grateful that I got to spend an afternoon with him in 2007 sharing our “back in the day stories” and to thank him for what he had done for me.
    God bless you Dennis
    You will be sorely missed.

  • Deberah A. Shears

    When I was a music teacher in Vancouver, Dennis was always there to offer support any way he could. He made everyone feel valued – students, teachers, colleagues.
    The room was made brighter when he walked through the door. My sincere condolences to his family.
    Deberah Gallagher Shears

  • Gail Wynston

    Dennis was a treasured and inspirational leader at the VSB. I cherish my happy memories of his support for me as a music teacher and of our great laughs together.

    My condolences to his family on the loss of this kind and remarkable man.

  • Audrey Travis

    Dear Dennis, your Ruah, your Spirit is now at peace and rising up to Heaven. Though I met you as my boss in Vancouver School District, you quickly turned into a mentor and friend. I loved your sincere interest in and knowledge of other spiritualities and your understanding of the different levels of “soul”. You inspired me to be the best musician and teacher I could be. You will live on in my heart forever. My deepest condolences to your family and all who knew and loved you.

  • Dr. Dallas E. Hinton

    Dennis and I met in UBC during my graduate years. We played a couple of musicals together, and then he hired me to teach in the Vancouver School system in 1982 and I enjoyed many years as a music teacher under his guidance. His impact on the music scene is unmeasurable, and I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity work with him. He will be missed.

  • carol wilkie

    Dennis was one of the most inspirational educators I had the pleasure of working with at the Vancouver School Board. I had the privilege of being one of the first members in the VSB Choir which Dennis founded. What a joy it was to attend weekly practices on a Friday after school!
    Dennis was a passionate supporter of the arts in public schools, and as such did so much for students and staff of like mind.
    My sincere condolences to family and friends who are left to mourn this remarkable man. I feel so blessed to have known him.

  • Dana Bertsch

    I wish I had met Dennis, but if his daughters are a testament to his character, then he must’ve been a wonderful, kind hearted man and a joy to be around. Rest well with your love, Ruth.

  • Barbara Hooper

    Dennis was an inspiration to me as a beginning elementary music teacher and school choir director. Then, years later he encouraged and supported me as a conductor for our community choir. He always sought to uplift and lighten with humour and insight. Dennis became a good friend to my husband John and I for many years. I am so sorry for your loss. I know we will remember Dennis for the rest of our lives. Thankyou for being his caring family and surrounding him with love during his last days.

  • Ged

    He is playing with the “Band of Brothers” now
    Thanks Dennis(Mr. Tupman)..
    We had a Special Bond..No more need to be said..
    Musically Yours,

  • Linda-Mae Chan-Kent

    My heartfelt condolences to the entire Tupman family. I share in your loss.
    I had the pleasure and honour of working with Dennis in the 1980s while serving as music consultant for the VSB. As a beginning music teacher in the 70s, Dennis became my mentor and role model. He was truly an inspiration. His passion and compassion reached beyond the Arts and encompassed the greater community.
    He will be truly missed.
    Linda-Mae Chan-Kent

  • Cathryn Aune

    Dennis was one of the most faith-full people I ever had the pleasure to know. He offered his thoughtful messages to our small lay-led congregation as explorations in a humble and thought-provoking way. He brought great musical insight to our community choir where he and Ruth were stalwart participants. Dennis often provided support and encouragement to others who stepped up to serve at church or choir. Whether behind the scenes or out front, Dennis could be relying upon to always give his best with a few jokes along the way. He will be greatly missed.

  • Doug & Betty Craig

    Far more than a teacher and mentor, he influenced both of our lives in a profound way.

  • hedy buurmeester

    dennis, I will forever miss kibbitzing with you. you will be in my heart forever. sincere condolences to all his family. dennis was a great person, and will be missed by many.

  • Mark Proctor

    Dennis has drawn thousands of his colleagues and students into the world of music. He was literally magnetic in his passion and profound in his knowledge, making participation completely compelling.

    It has been a highlight of my career in education to have known him.

    Deepest condolences to his family.

  • Dylan Cramer

    Mr. Tupman changed my student’s life and touched his heart. For five years at Magee, my saxophone student played 2nd alto, while the lead alto was a kid with a loud, harsh tone (which was what the band teacher wanted). Despite my student’s gorgeous, Paul Desmond-like sound, he found himself in the shadow of the other kid. Then, right near the end of Grade 12, the band went to a music festival/clinic in Whistler. While there, Mr. Tupman rehearsed the Magee band. At one point, while working with the saxophones, he asked all of them to play the phrase in question one by one. After he heard the lead alto play, he pointed to my student. Upon hearing my student, he burst into a big smile, turned to the lead alto player and said, “NOW THAT’S HOW YOU PLAY THE ALTO SAXOPHONE – PLAY LIKE THAT FROM NOW ON!” At my next lesson with my student, he recounted this story and was in tears. “Someone finally heard the difference – after all of these years!” It was a truly beautiful moment, all because of Mr. Tupman and his great ears!

  • Gary Rupert

    It is said that the stature of a man comes from the number of people whose life he touched – in that context Dennis was a giant.

  • Amber & Byron Gorsak

    What a beautiful tribute to an extraordinary man! I wish I would have had the honour of meeting your Dad. He surely set a wonderful example to his family as his daughters and family are a tribute to him. Our most sincere and heartfelt condolences to all of you.

  • Helene McGall

    Thinking about you all at this terrible time. We all loved Dennis so much, we now must cherish and remember our special times with him. Dennis will live in my heart forever.


    It was such a privilege for me to meet Dennis and Ruth and the girls in 1968 when we moved to Kitimat. They were both shining lights in the community and were a great example to me, as a young woman and mother, of a loving, caring family, as well as brilliant musicians. I loved singing beside Ruth in the church choir and the community choir – and enjoyed Dennis’s warm leadership and wit – what fun years those were! Both Dennis and Ruth created such a beautiful spirit among the community and choir members through their friendship and influence and Dennis’s innate leadership. They will always be in my heart. I truly appreciate you all for being part of our lives.

  • Irene Thomas

    Our deepest condolences to Dennis’s family. He was such a joy to know always such a cheerful man who put a smile on everyone’s face. He will truly be missed.

  • Marion Hunter

    I had the pleasure of working with Dennis at MESS for 3 years. He was such an inspiration to both students and staff, and so passionate about music education. Along with Jim Brown the drama teacher, they convinced me to do the choreography for the school musical Ask any Girl. What a fun time, totally out of my comfort zone, but Dennis was so supportive. I send my condolences to all of his family. He was indeed a very special man.

  • Louise Avery

    I had the opportunity to talk with Dennis when the Kitimat Museum was researching the history of music in the town. He provided a large quantity of material and guidance as well as a double-belled euphonium once used by the Kitamaat Silver Band, Haisla Nation, and now on display at the Museum. I also learned from Dennis that he and I had the same band director in Victoria, Howard Denike. That was quite a coincidence. For the last 17 years I have been involved with Kitimat Arts for Youth and continue to see Dennis Tupman as an inspirational force to the continuation of KAFY in offering arts programming, and funding the Kitimat Band Program. Dennis led the way! He is missed. Thank you Dennis for all you did for the arts in BC. My condolences to the Tupman Family.

  • Herbert Steele

    Our condolences to the Dennis Tupman family. We enjoyed his music that he performed in Williams Lake, and 100 Mile House. He will be greatly missed by family and friends.

  • Barbara Dixon

    I was deeply saddened at the news of the loss of your father. He was the sweetest man. So intelligent and kindhearted. He is with your wonderful mother, together forever. love always❤️

  • Eric and Cindy Grummisch

    Sincerest condolences to Dennis’s family. Dennis was an exceptional human being who touched many lives in the most positive way. He will be sorely missed by any and all who had the pleasure of knowing him.

  • Donna Barnett

    Dennis was an amazing man. I was fortunate to have had the priviledge of working on a couple community projects with Dennis. It was an honour for me to award Dennis Citizen of the year for the South Cariboo. Dennis loved his surroundings his music his kind caring manner was one of a kind. May he rest in peace

  • Mick Dalla-Vee

    Beautiful… and what a beautiful man. He won’t be forgotten by a great many people whose lives he touched.

  • Joey and Vicky Santos

    Sending healing prayers and comforting hugs. I am so sorry for your loss. May his soul rest in peace.

  • Linda Caterer

    So sorry to hear of Dennis’s passing. He was very active in our Green Lake community.
    Bob and Linda Caterer

  • Tim O'Brien

    Deepest condolences to Rae & family. Never got to meet Poppy. But got to know him a bit thru my friendship with her (Rae) !

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