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Shining the Light of Christ
Matthew 5:16

Reflections: In Memory of Dennis

Written by Karen Brewer, Publisher

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On January 10, 2021, Covid-19 took the life of a family member, my mother’s first cousin Gwen’s husband, Dennis, who had been hospitalized for seven weeks, since November, sedated and on a ventilator. 

It’s still hard to believe, and it was not the outcome for which we had hoped and prayed. He will be very much missed by all who knew him. 

Gwen’s late mother and my late maternal grandmother were sisters. My grandmother was one of nine siblings, and my grandmother and her brothers and sisters and all of the families have always been close. After my great grandmother passed, everyone would still get together for family reunions in addition to other times. And, for the past several years, Dennis and Gwen have hosted a family Christmas get-together in early December each year at their home. Dennis would take a group photo of everyone in attendance. Gwen recently wrote, “He loved having my family get togethers. I always said he loved my family as much as I did!!” And everyone loved Dennis. He will always be fondly remembered by us all.

He loved family. I remember how he would post about the family reunions on his side and would share photos, current and past, of their family reunions and family members.

He loved Gwen. They were a match made in heaven, and they were married in 2008.

He loved traveling. He had driven his motorcycle all across the United States, and he and Gwen had taken several cruises.

He loved Walhalla. He shared posts and photos on his Facebook page about different sites around town and the scenery. He was retired from Duke Energy and was currently serving as a member of the Walhalla City Council (and Chair of the Fire and Street and Sanitation Committees) and was also the current President for the Board of Directors for the Rosa Clark Clinic. He was a member and former President of the Walhalla Rotary Club, was a founding member of the Sheriff’s Foundation Board, was a member of the Crime Stoppers Board of Directors, was an alumnus of the Citizen’s Police Academy, and was a member and past Master of the Blue Ridge Masonic Lodge #92.  At his graveside service, a huge crowd that gathered included family members and friends as well as the Sheriff, the Mayor and the Walhalla City Council, the Walhalla Rotary Club, the Walhalla Fire Department, the Walhalla Police Department, the Walhalla Water Department, the Walhalla Sanitation Department, and the Rosa Clark Clinic, who all served as honorary escorts. Dennis was well respected in his native Walhalla and will be missed by the Oconee community and his family and friends.

Yes, he will be missed. He was family.

I’ll remember good times through the years, including all of the Christmas get-togethers and family reunions.

And I remember when Gwen threw Dennis a Hawaiian-themed surprise birthday party in March of 2019. It was held in the fellowship building at her sister Wanda’s church. I took photos and video as they came in. He was surprised to see the crowd of family and friends who had come to celebrate his birthday with him.

Five years earlier, in 2014, Gwen and Wanda threw a surprise birthday party for both of their husbands, whose birthdays were in the same month of March. They told Dennis that the surprise party was for Thad, and they told Thad that the surprise party was for Dennis. So, Dennis and Thad both knew about the surprise party, but each of them thought that the surprise party was for the other. They both were truly surprised when they walked in to see a crowd of family and friends gathered to celebrate both of their birthdays. I took video as they came through the doorway. Treasured memories, especially since Thad and Dennis are both now gone.

Two years earlier, in 2012, Dennis and Gwen not only attended my grandmother’s birthday celebration, but I took photos and also asked Dennis if he would take photos during the event, and he was kind to do so. None of us knew it at the time, but it would be my grandmother’s last birthday celebration.

None of us ever know when it might be the last time we see someone. Sometimes, something unexpected happens, such as what happened to Dennis.

I’m thankful, though, that this goodbye is not forever and that we have the assurance that we will see him again in heaven.