Eric Arbon Dentel, 57, Winter Park, passed away on October 21 at his home following a valiant battle with esophageal cancer.
An Orlando attorney since 1999 and a senior federal judicial clerk for most of his later career, Eric grew up in Seminole County and played a key journalistic role in reporting on metro Orlando’s burgeoning cultural and political scene in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Eric was well-known for his brilliant intellect, professional accomplishments, and keen sense of humor, but he was beloved by family and friends for his kindness, loyalty, and humble generosity of spirit. With his legendary quick wit and clever wordplay, Eric effortlessly connected with others by making them laugh. A lifelong voracious reader of multiple genres – highbrow, lowbrow, and everything in between – he was everyone’s top choice as a Trivia Night teammate.
Born Sept 10,1965 in Washington, D.C., Eric moved to Altamonte Springs as a child and attended Seminole County schools. He won the county spelling bee as a precocious sixth-grader, proudly and ironically displaying the trophy in his law office decades later. A National Merit Scholarship Semifinalist, Eric graduated from Lyman High School in 1983. While studying journalism at the University of Central Florida, he served as managing editor of the Central Florida Future, UCF’s independent weekly student newspaper. After his 1990 graduation, Eric was one of the first journalists hired by The Weekly (now known as Orlando Weekly) during its formative years. He contributed stories about local personalities, trends, and restaurants/nightlife. He also wrote a regular op-ed column called The Lowdown, providing local news analysis and insight.
In 1996, Eric attended the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law, eventually serving as articles editor on the Florida Law Review Editorial Board. He particularly loved the academic challenge and mental stimulation afforded by the study of law, graduating second in his Class of 1999. After law school graduation, Eric returned to Orlando and worked as an associate at the law firms Akerman Senterfitt and Shutts & Bowen. Realizing that he preferred the judicial side of the legal profession, Eric then used his formidable research and writing skills as a senior federal law clerk. For the last 13 years of his career, Eric served as senior clerk for the Hon. Gregory Presnell, Senior U.S. District Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.
Family was extremely important to Eric, and he especially loved being a dad. He served as a scout master for several years, proudly guiding his son, Wyatt, to the rank of Eagle Scout, and supporting his daughter, Caroline, as she followed in his high-achieving academic footsteps. Eric was a huge college football fan, rarely missing a chance to cheer for his beloved UF Gators. He was an accomplished woodworker, a talented chef, and a discerning gourmand who also loved the outdoors, hiking and birdwatching. Even while Eric struggled with the side effects of his cancer treatments, his positive and optimistic spirit never dimmed. During weekly Zoom calls with a group of close friends, his intense intellectual curiosity and sense of humor continued shining through.
In addition to his former wife, Karen Castor Dentel; son, Wyatt; and daughter, Caroline, Eric is survived by his parents, Betty and Bob Kimbrel of Altamonte Springs, and Bill and Patsy Dentel of DeLand.
A memorial service and celebration of life will be held on Nov 11th at 2:30 at Maitland Presbyterian Church in Maitland, FL. Donations can be made in his honor to the Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association, Inc., 100 E. Robinson Street, Orlando, FL 32801