Notice of Passing: Rev. Dean Lanning, Retired Local Pastor

September 3, 2020 | Obituaries

Rev. Dean Arden Lanning, 90, died on August 20, 2020 in Iowa City, IA. He was a beloved husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather. Those who knew him will continue to celebrate his life and cherish the memories of his work.

Dean was born in 1929, to Orin and Laura (Vickers) Lanning, on a farm near Eagle, NE. He received his undergraduate degree at Nebraska Wesleyan University, from which he also received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree in 1987. While a student, he was a member of Pi Kappa Delta and Pi Gamma Mu. He graduated from Perkins Theological Seminary at SMU in 1955, and from Union Theological Seminary (affiliated with Columbia University) in 1959.

In 1952, Dean married Dorris M. Thomas of Lincoln, NE. They served pastorates in Clifton, Wayne, Summit, and Maplewood, NJ. Dean was an ordained United Methodist minister for forty-two years, six of which were spent as a District Superintendent in the Northern New Jersey Conference of the UMC.

He was a lifelong advocate for social justice. He was an active participant in the Civil Rights movement. Building relationships, he thought, was central to understanding one another. He was also committed to dialogue and understanding between different faith traditions. Rev. Lanning was an early and outspoken advocate for the ordination of lesbian and gay persons. Following his retirement, he participated in KAIROS, a prison ministry. He was an elected delegate to the General Conference of the UMC and served on the Board of Church and Society.

Dean loved sports and competition, but most of all, he enjoyed a game well played. He was an intense tennis player throughout his life! In later years he played a competitive game against younger family members, compensating for age, with strategy.

Rev. Lanning is survived by his beloved wife of 68 years, Dorris; four children, Lynne (Richard Smith), Leigh (Douglas) Hornick, Mary (Larry) Koskinen and Mark (Jeniphr Breckenridge); thirteen grandchildren; a great grandson, and nine nieces and nephews.

If you would like to make a contribution in his memory, gifts may be made to Eagle Nebraska UMC, P.O. Box 269, Eagle, NE, 68347; Nebraska Wesleyan Uni., 5000 St. Paul Avenue, Lincoln, NE 68504-2794, or Kidneeds c/o Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation, 324 Third St. SE, Unit 400, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401.

Personal messages to the Lanning family may be sent to