Vail Daily obituary: Denise Briner |

Vail Daily obituary: Denise Briner

Denise Briner, 78, passed away Aug. 20, 2016, at her home in Denver. She is survived by her husband, Tom Briner, and sons Mark and Thaddeus Briner. Denise was a devoted ballet teacher for the last 50 years and a doting grandmother to her five grandchildren, Sam, Reece, Keli, Hale and Heath, for the last 23.

A Denver resident since 2000, Denise was born in Pittsburgh to Stella and David Getsie, where she and her brother Bill both attended school in Monroeville, Pennsylvania. She began her career at 17, where she was the youngest dancer at the local Copacabana nightclub, performing the jitterbug and other timely routines. Concurrently pursuing her ballet studies, Denise shortly thereafter became a corps member in the International Repertory Valley Company, also in Pittsburgh. Staying on to attend Carnegie Mellon University, where she continued to dance and choreograph, she met Tom Briner, to whom she was married in 1960.

Upon leaving Pennsylvania, they lived in Paris, France; Champaign Urbana, Illinois; and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In 1974, the family moved to Vail, where Denise began the Ballet Program at Colorado Mountain College. Bringing ballet into people’s lives gave her great pride and joy, and she was just as committed to mentoring the 40-something “never ever” as the young hockey player who went on to dance for American Ballet Theatre in New York City.

Denise hosted long dinners with family and friends, during which she might have cajoled those who disagreed with her brand of politics or just as likely promoted the successes of her favorite Polish athletes. She was always quick to cry with happiness and laugh at the folly of her errors.

Comfortable on the New York City subway with her young grandchildren in tow, or on a 14er with her girlfriends, Denise brought a humble yet determined grace and elegance to whatever she set out to do. She was always curious about those around her, loving, loyal and kind, and will be missed dearly.

A gathering of friends and family will occur in the near future.

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