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BLOOMINGTON — The news of Dennis “Denny” Marquardt’s death Thursday sent ripples through the community as friends reflected on the Bloomington entrepreneur and community leader.

Marquardt, 56, founder of Denny’s Doughnuts in Bloomington, died Thursday morning at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal of an illness. He was well known for his readiness to give back to the community through his business.

Sondra Hayes, director of emergency services for the Bloomington-based American Red Cross of the Heartland, said Marquardt was among those the Red Cross called during emergencies.

“In the middle of the night, we would call Denny’s and he would have doughnuts ready to pick up to take to fires in the community,” Hayes said.

To recognize his service, the Red Cross named an award after Marquardt, Hayes said.

He also received the WJBC Spirit of McLean County Award and Illinois State University’s Golden Redbird Award and was inducted to the hall of fame for his high school alma mater, Bloomington High School.

Friend Phil Boulds, who operates Mugsy’s Pub in Bloomington, agreed that Marquardt leaves behind a legacy of giving.

“He was a good man and good about donating time and effort and doughnuts,” Boulds said. “He was one of those guys, a true American.”

Throughout the day Thursday, friends of the family wrote their condolences on the company’s Facebook pages.

Marquardt was born in 1954 to Carl and Margie Haas Marquardt. The Bloomington native discovered his love for doughnuts early in life after he began working at Fred Spudnuts, a local doughnut shop in the early 1970s. In 1974, Marquardt purchased the business and changed the name.

He married Barbara Scott in 1980.

Marquardt worked hard all of his life, said longtime friend Moe Davis, who operates Tobin’s Pizza in Bloomington. He was committed to his family, his business and the community.

“When we got their products, they were always on time and made flawlessly,” Davis said. “It was a reflection of Denny as a person. He worked daily and did a great job.”

Marquardt is survived by his wife and four sons. Other survivors include his mother, three brothers, three sisters and many nieces and nephews.

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