Human Interest

For the second time in a month, a former Sedona city councilman has died.

On Tuesday, Nov. 15, Dennis Rayner died in his sleep after a long battle with cancer, his wife Marlene said. In late October, former councilman Dan McIlroy died as well.

“He always kept me laughing,” Marlene said of her husband of 52 years. “He always tried to keep my spirits up, despite everything he was going through. It’s been a very rough year.”

Dennis requested that there be no service or funeral. Instead, he wanted to be cremated and “his molecules returned to the earth,” she said.

Dennis served on City Council for two years from 2010 to 2012. The two-year term was used that election to help stagger the council terms once the mayor’s seat became a two-year position.
“That was a difficult time for him because he had to make some very difficult decisions,” Marlene said. “He voted against the street lights [along State Route 89A] and was the only one to vote against putting the pavilion [Barbara Antonsen Park] at Posse Grounds because he didn’t feel there was enough parking to accommodate the facility.”

When he was up for re-election, Rayner pulled the proper paperwork but after evaluating everything, chose not to run for a second term.

“It was just too stressful,” she said. “He enjoyed being active within the city but he wasn’t a politician.”

Former Council-woman Barbara Litrell, who served two years with Rayner, said she will remember him in many ways.

“I enjoyed serving on council with Dennis from 2010 to 2012,” she said. “I appreciated his sharp intellect and scientific background, his love of Sedona and the environment, and his willingness to speak his mind and vote based on his principles. Dennis also volunteered at West Sedona School and loved inspiring the kids to learn science. He gave a lot to our community and will be missed.”

Rayner was born on Thanksgiving day, Nov. 26, 1942, in Buffalo, N.Y. After graduating from Cleveland Hill High School in Cheektowaga, N.Y. in 1960, he attended college in Buffalo to be a chemist. It was there that he met Marlene — appropriately enough — in a chemistry class. They married four years later and had two daughters.

He spent 32 years of his career as a research scientist at DuPont, retiring in 2000. Then in 2006 the Rayners moved to Sedona. In addition to his time on City Council, Rayner also served on the now-defunct sustainability and arts commissions.

“We had a very good life together,” Marlene said.

His obituary states that, “His family and friends will always remember him as a liberal, strong, open minded, compassionate and principled person, even though his views might be unpopular.”


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