Dean Eugene Van Wagenen was born in 1914 to Alma and Birdie Van Wagenen of East Center Street in Provo, Utah. A man of amazing integrity and keen math skills, he attended local public schools until he enrolled in Brigham Young University. A member of the Goldbrickers Service Society, Phi Beta Kappa, and the Honor Society, he graduated BYU with a double degree in Accounting and Finance. During his college studies he took time to fulfill a church mission in the Eastern States Mission. In 1939 he married then BYU Homecoming Queen Belle Felice de Jong in the Salt Lake City LDS Temple. The couple had 4 children including Julie, Paul, Norman, and Kenny.
Early in his professional career he worked briefly for Sears and quickly realized that such a job had a slim opportunity to make a good living. He saved his money and teamed up with a partner to found the Intermountain Food Company where he processed and canned peaches, pears, cherries and other fruit. He employed many men full and part time. One of Dean's early customers selling fruit to process was a teenage LaVell Edwards, who later became head football coach for BYU. During his career owning and operating the "cannery" Dean began providing collateralized loans to employees and customers of the business. After several years, he realized the loan business generated a better living than the cannery. Dean soon sold the cannery and opened Van Wagenen Finance Company in 1957 on West Center Street in Provo. Dean had a clever entrepreneur spirit and originated a number of businesses. These businesses included the sale of an impressive number of new and used firearms from a small business showroom. He offered new and used musical instrument sales and loans and also bail bonds throughout Utah County. Additionally, he was one of the first to link IRS tax reporting with the ability to factor taxpayer refund checks. This service again generated immediate cash liquidity for those in need.
Both Dean's father and brother were early Mayors of Provo and all the Van Wagenens enjoyed living and working among friends in the city. Dean enjoyed traveling and visited some 100 countries in the 70s as he and Belle traveled around the world a number of times. Dean was among the first to travel to China in the mid 1970s after Chairman Mao allowed visiting foreign tourists for the first time. Dean bought a home just east of BYU campus on Oak Lane in 1969. He lived in that home until his death in 1997.
Dean was an active member of the LDS Church and enjoyed work as a high council member in the Oak Hills Stake of the Church. Dean taught his family through example how to treat all people fairly and still make a good living in a small college town.