Dennis Tempel

Profile Updated: April 2, 2015
Dennis Tempel
Residing In: Key West, FL USA
Occupation: Celebrity Tour Guide + volunteer work
Yes! Attending Reunion


What did you do right after high school?

U of Wisc, Madison
University College, London

Voluntary Activities including Peace Corps.

Non-profit organizations, Key West:

Old Island Restoration Foundation (one of oldest historic presevation groups in US, circa 1950s)
15-years hosting House/Garden Tours (major fund-
raiser) & Board of Directors, Late 1980s-2003

Historic Florida Keys Preservation Commission,
3-years as judge for annual preservation awards

Friends of the Library, Director of Book Sales,

Audubon House and Tropical Gardens, house tour docent, 2005-present

Have you had different careers?

Architect, London, 1967-1980
Innkeeper, Key West, 1980-90
Curator, Historic Home, Donkey Milk House, 1991-97
Walking/Biking Tour Escort, 1997-present

Fun or interesting "adventures" or one of the high points of your life.

I think of my whole life as an adventure. It has certainly been a fun ride, full of lots of highs and a few of those reality-check lows that strengthen our characters.

What do you do with your spare time? What are you passionate about?

Passionate about where I live. Swimming every morning, biking 10-20 miles each day, Caribbean island life style, thousands of historical wood houses on National Register, creative atmosphere suiting artists/writers, clean air/healthy food/350
days of sunshine yearly, fascinating mixture of all sorts population. Who could ask for anything more....

I read voraciously.

I enjoy repairing/refinishing/restoring antique furniture.

Looking after the maintenance of an old house is theraputic, as is looking after the tropical jungle that can take over surrounding the house.

Have you lived one of your dreams?

I'm not sure sure about "dreams" but I always wanted to be moving toward destinations that could allow for my free-spirit to be at its best.
London at the end of the 'Swinging Sixties' was a perfect fit. The '70s there was full of good work, glamorous life style and lots of (mainly European) travel. The '80s was the ideal life: hosting a successful bed & breakfast in the tropics for the winter and summers in London winding down my architectural practice while catching up on theater/friends/travel/the Good Life.
With the sale of the hotel, I had to do some roll-over investing and re-invented myself as a mini-Donald (a Trump-ette ? ) with properties in London (10 rental flats), Bucks County (PA, 2 houses on 20-acres) and Key West (2 historic homes). Suddenly, we had a RECESSION and I found myself having 'fire sales' in all three locations. My positive energy saw me through; less is more and a return to VERY modest means was good for me. My one house in Key West is now full time. I held onto my modest flat in London (into which I had moved in 1967) until 2000. I had lost my zest for England (both of us had changed) and am very happy to have only one property, my home now for nearly 20-years and I'm still in a head-over-heels honeymoon with every historical square inch. Scarry!

Publications or recordings? Ex: books, articles, films, music.

A couple of my architectural projects were taken up in UK glossy magazines, 1970-80s.

The Key West Inn received favorable reviews in the travel guides of the time and a NY Times recommendation during the first year of operation, 1980s.

The restoration of Donkey Milk House received various awards, was featured in US/European glossies and filmed for two programs on HGTV
("If Walls Could Talk' & 'Restore America').

I'm asked by the Tourist Development Council to look after visiting jounalists (US and Europe) who end up writing about or filming my walking/biking tours.

What would most surprise us to know about you now and what you have done?

Everyone hates a show-off, but FACTS:

I still have a full head of hair (no comb-over/
I'm the same weight/waist (155lbs./31") I was in high school,
I read and have pretty good far sight with out corrective lens.

Now before going into uncontrollable gagging, quickly superimpose these realities on the above:

Agressive silver hairs have pushed the gold strands into a pathetic minority,
The charming laugh lines of youth are now a permanent map of wrinkles,
Annoying forces of gravity have left me with one or two saggy bits.

HOWEVER, I'm still told that I remind people of Douglas Fairbanks Jr. They go on, unnecessarily,
to say "you know, the old actor" (always with rather excessive emphasis on the 'old')


I've been practicing the twist with hopes that Clair Gother and Jennifer Smart will be available to recreate some of our award-winning moves.

8th May 2011:

Auto-send out has requested an update:
No changes to report. After a winter of incredibly good weather, perhaps I'm even more delighted with my life here in Key West AND I'm still Twisting to express contentment with my good fortune.

25th March 2015

I am just coming to the end of a four generation association with Whitefish Bay. My Great Grandfather was one of the earliest settlers and one of the handful of landowners who siged the documents when the village incorporated in the 19th c. My paternal grandfather was born in the Bay. In his teens he worked part-time at the WFB Resort (a bit like me working at the Big Boy after school?). Part of the farm he inherited provided the land for St Monica's and Dominican.

My parents moved to the Bay before I was born. They acquired an Edgewood 2 (later 332) phone. That number went with them when they moved to the brick house on the Lake Dr/Lake Forest corner in '63.

I was staying at the house at the beginning of March. My dad died a few months short of Birthday 98. After the funeral I was busy giving family treasures to neighbors and readying the house for sale. I called AT&T to disconnect the phone. I asked the representative if this was a record, a number with the same subscriber for 72 years. I think she said "HUH ?" So much for my fantasy of a Guinness World Book mention.

My father was an amazing guy. He looked after my mother single-handedly for years as she declined with Alzheimers. She died at home in 2012 around the time of their 74th wedding anniversary. She was 94.

I arranged for two favorite nurses (who had assisted my mother) to look after my dad. I began to commute, giving my dad a week in the Bay every month or two while keeping my tour business going in Key West. My dad retained all of his sharpness of mind. We bonded in those years in a way that had never been available to us in earlier times. This was a gift for which I shall always be gratefull.

My dad took a studio apartment at St John's on Prospect when the two flights of stairs became difficult. St John's was like a fountain of youth. His zest for life and sense of humor bumped up a few notches when he began to be presented with tasty meals each day, a schedule of weekly events offering classes, classic films, lectures and concerts. He went to the library every morning to get thro' the NY Times, Wall St Journal and (of course) The Milw. J/S. He went to the gym to work on the macines for 40-50 mins. every morning and did a similar session in the afternoon if he didn't have a visitor.
He remained an outrageous flirt with all the women and was on hugging terms with MANY of the great staff members there. I participated in most of this love-festing during my visits.

I hope many of us will be able to enjoy this quality of life to the very end.

5th July 2012:

Important clarification:
I have never consumed a martini.
Donkeys in Key West were not milked.
There is no Donkey Milk House recipe book under consideration.

Persistant Bruce Bendinger was told that DONKEY carts delivered cow's MILK in the 19th century, that my house backs onto DONKEY MILK LANE (for milkpersons to make delivery via servant's entrance) and that donkeys hated being milked (as did the mules that powered our 19th c. trolly cars).

However, one must humor those with youthful senses of frivolity....

Meanwhile, Life for me remains unchanged and GOOD on the little caribbean island with a zip code.

Dennis' Latest Interactions

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Dennis Tempel has a birthday today.
Oct 20, 2023 at 4:33 AM
Dennis Tempel has a birthday today.
Oct 20, 2022 at 4:33 AM
Dennis Tempel has a birthday today.
Oct 20, 2021 at 4:33 AM
Dennis Tempel posted a message.
Jun 17, 2021 at 3:09 PM

Hi Larry,

Have you considered the donation "overages" being applied to Gary Rosenberg's Class of '62 fund he set up in 2012? It occured to me to suggest it when you asked if I wanted a refund but I didn't. I contributed to Gary fund. in 2012 and would be happy to add to his good cause (unless you have already spent my $500).

Did you see Jon Bach's obit in the Journal/Sentinal. His ex-wife Kathy and I keep in touch. She sent it to me last week; we loose another Cumberland-er.

I hope you are well,

Dennis Tempel has a birthday today.
Oct 20, 2020 at 4:33 AM
Dennis Tempel has a birthday today.
Oct 20, 2019 at 4:33 AM
Dennis Tempel posted a message. New comment added.
Mar 25, 2019 at 10:37 PM

Posted on: Mar 25, 2019 at 9:48 AM

Did you ever imagine that we would reach 75 yrs.? I focused on that lovely light my candle created by burning both ends. I thought I might get to 40 and that would be enough of the FULL LIFE. I'm glad I jammed so much into the early decades and that my body/mind keep functioning at agreeable standard.

Still bike/swim daily, read without glasses, have a full head of hair, a 31" waist/150 lbs., get "hit upon" daily by mature women and smile a lot about my happy life.

I hope you are feeling like a youthful 75, too.

I came upon the photos of us (plus Mark and Paul) in our Huntington Ct. abode in '63/64. Many warm/fuzzy memories there. Even our frequent weekend house guest Jan J. featured in photos.

Keep well,

Dennis Tempel has a birthday today.
Oct 20, 2018 at 4:33 AM
Dennis Tempel posted a message. New comment added.
Jul 09, 2018 at 12:59 PM

Posted on: Jun 20, 2018 at 9:24 AM

Yesterday was Lester Flatt's Birthday - - and, not surprisingly, I thought of YOU and your amazing concerts with Paul Peterson in that cute alcove we had at Huntingdon Court.

I hope you are well and Happy. I think I am doing really well for an Older Youth, especially when I survey my exact contemporaries.

Warmest Wishes,

Dennis Tempel has a birthday today.
Oct 20, 2017 at 4:33 AM
Dennis Tempel posted a message.
Jun 19, 2017 at 9:59 AM

Hi Ed,

Today is Lester Flatt's Birthday (1914-1979)

I'm still awaiting your report on the Picnic Reunion 2016.

Things are good here in Key West. I hope you are in good form, too.

Warm Wishes,

Dennis Tempel posted a message.
Jan 26, 2017 at 11:05 AM

Hi Barbara,
I was sad to see that NO ONE responded to your Cumberland memory lane.
YES, Corliss Baker (8th grade) was a Nut Job. I think he taught science.
Lorraine Rotter was very dear. I tried to offer a visit to her on one of my trips to the Bay in the '70s. She said that she was unable to meet with former students. I respected her decision. I kept up with Lauiline Fyffe (Ed's mom) on my Bay visits. She was close to Mrs Rotter and explained that she had become somewhat reclusive. Mr Riebolt rounded out our 8th grade cast of characters; he followed us to the high school when we graduated in '58.
I think the 7th grade line up of educators was even more peculiar: (Charles) Keith Smith (who went onto become Principal) was in evidence very rarely as I remember, leaving us to get on with educating ourselves (in SCIENCE !). Phylis Ludowissie (sp?), Math, was very odd in her clumsy boots and all sorts of fashion mistakes. Dear Miss Adolf, English, had a hard time getting any respect from our junior high classmates. Some were very cruel about her leg disability. Some of us hooligans did manage to pull our act together and become more compassionate by the time we got to high school.

Thanks for the memories,

Dennis Tempel has a birthday today.
Oct 20, 2016 at 4:33 AM
Oct 16, 2016 at 3:29 PM

Happy birthday!

Dennis Tempel posted a message.
Sep 08, 2016 at 11:26 AM

Hi Mary and Brad,

For those of us who were unable to get to your Picnic Reunion, are we ever going to receive juicy details or X-rated photos of the day? At one stage I was relying on Ed Fyffe who seemed to have endless time to keyboard thousands of words to EVERYONE in the weeks preceding the July event and now seems to have dropped below radar again.

Anyway, I thought it was very brave and generous to invite everyone to your home. I hope the attendees behaved well. I thought of that today when I heard the oxymoron "adult male"; I think we all come across elderly men who seem to be locked in their delinquent late teens/early 20s.

Warm Best Wishes,

Dennis Tempel posted a message. New comment added.
Jul 12, 2016 at 9:23 AM

Posted on: Jul 11, 2016 at 11:24 AM

Dave! You haven't changed at all (or are you a bit taller than you were in 8th grade?)
Always pleasing to hear news of one of one's friends from our ancient history at Cumberland.

All Best Wishes,

Dennis Tempel posted a message. New comment added.
Nov 14, 2016 at 11:00 AM

Posted on: Jul 11, 2016 at 11:16 AM

Dear Marilyn,

With all this dangerously exciting build-up for the July 16th Picnic, ( probably not good for us at this age; have you noted that Eddy Fyffe still thinks the picnic is on the 15th - - I hope Brad and Mary have a guest room available for his day-early arrival) I've been buzzing around the recent messages. I had tears of joy when I read your firm, but polite, put-down of people who want you to get "Linked-in". I also have firm limits on how far I am willing to embrace technology. I DO NOT do facebook or any of the other social media sites, I do not text ( or allow receipt of same) and hug all those hours each day that I devote to being away from a device. YUP, a true Luddite....

I hope you manage your condo move without too much angst.

Warmest Best Wishes,

Dennis Tempel posted a message.
Jun 24, 2016 at 10:57 AM

Good Taste, Grant/Dave. I too thought Jill R. and Janet O. were the BEST. Also, thanks for reminding Fyffer who I am. I hope all is GOOD with you.

Dennis Tempel posted a message. New comment added.
Jun 24, 2016 at 11:26 AM

Posted on: Jun 23, 2016 at 11:12 AM

EVERYONE knows that KW stands for Key Weird, the island I call home. By the way, you are Eddy WHO?

Dennis Tempel posted a message on Sandi Picker's Profile. New comment added.
Jun 13, 2016 at 6:58 PM

Posted on: Jun 13, 2016 at 10:29 AM

I shall be unable to get to the 54th reunion picnic. Please send my THANKS to Mary and Brad for their generosity. I may raise my glass and dance a short Twist at noon on 7/16.

Best Wishes,