Born June 16, 1921, in St. Paul, Minnesota, he was the eldest of two sons of Edwin and Elsie Engstrom.
He grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and graduated from Minnehaha Academy. His college education included North Park College in Chicago, Gustavus Adolphus, in St. Peter, Minnesota, and graduation from the University of Minnesota.
In 1944, he joined the U.S. Navy and was commissioned as an officer. Shortly thereafter, he contracted polio and was sent to the polio treatment center in Warm Springs, Georgia, for rehabilitation. He was retired from service as a lieutenant junior grade. On Nov. 19, 1946, he wedded Mary Katherine Roper, of Winter Garden, a beautiful marriage that would last for 66 years.
After spending a year at University of North Carolina graduate school of business in Chapel Hill, they moved to Atlanta, Georgia.
Dean had a lifelong interest in business, and during the 1950s, he bought Rosemary Creamery and consolidated it with three other regional creameries to form Southern Butter Company in Birmingham, Alabama.
In 1960, he started Dean Foods, a margarine manufacturing plant in Richmond, Virginia. In 1965, the family moved to Florida, where he embarked upon a series of business ventures, including: citrus groves; Tinkelpaugh Surveying Company; Water Bonnet Company; Demlar Medical; Rare Earth Scientific Company; an aluminum welding company; a television broadcasting facility; and stock and commodities investing.
His commitment to public service and his community was always central in his thinking, and, in 1967, he was a member of the advisory committee for the creation of Valencia Community College in Orlando. He was a longstanding member of the Windermere Rotary Club and served as its president. In early 1990s, he served on the West Orange Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees and became the chairman of its new replacement Health Central in Ocoee.
Since the early 1970s, he was an active participant in the Orlando Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, where he initiated a program that fostered non-violent conflict resolution in local schools through small grants.
Dean was preceded in death by his wife, Mary; and his brother, Rich. He is survived by sons, Charles, Dirk and Todd, of Tallahassee, and Brett, of Marshfield, Vermont; and three grandchildren, Casey and Elsa (children of Betsy Brigham and Brett) and Dawson (son of Kim Kelling and Todd).
An informal memorial gathering will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 22, at the family home on Lake Butler.