Howard “Buddy” Lamar Dennis, age 87, died December 5, 2019, after a brief illness. Born at St. Margaret’s Hospital in Montgomery, Alabama, Buddy grew up in Montgomery. While attending Sidney Lanier High School, he played football and served in the Navy Reserve; he graduated in 1952, with several enthusiastic offers to play college football at major universities in the South.
Before he could pursue those opportunities, Buddy was called up for active duty in the U.S. Navy, quickly rising to the rank of Chief Petty Officer, Machinist’s Mate. His official duties included operating and maintaining the massive engines, heating and cooling systems, and seawater desalination equipment on Navy destroyers during the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Always quick with a mischievous smile, joke, or favor for a friend, “Chief” was well loved by his shipmates not only for his amazing skills but also for the unofficial services he provided. He turned down numerous promotions in order to remain in his position of Chief Petty Officer because he believed deeply that his work was the most important that he could be doing. After serving on destroyers, he worked as a Navy recruiter, earning the distinction of being the top recruiter in the state of Alabama. Chief retired from the Navy in 1977 after 23 years of service and continued his mechanical engineering career until his retirement in 1998.
Buddy was charming, gallant, considerate, witty, and full of life; he never missed a chance to be of help or service to others. He liked to offer words of wisdom to anyone who might be in need. For his younger followers, “Never run with a sucker in your mouth” was standard fare; “Always treat others with respect” was sound advice for all ages. It has been rumored that when in the company of men, he may have had other suggestions for living one’s best life. Buddy was an avid University of Alabama football fan; his favorite pastime was cheering for the Crimson Tide on autumn Saturdays.
In 1985, Buddy married the love of his life, Patricia Farish Stubblefield Dennis. They lived in Montgomery until 2004, when they moved to Asheville, North Carolina. Buddy was lovingly attentive to Pat and spent an extraordinary amount of love, thought, and energy to make her happy and be the best husband he could be; they enjoyed dancing, watching college football, and traveling; Buddy LOVED her cooking. It’s doubtful anyone’s ever seen a couple more in love than those two, who regarded one another’s happiness as their top priority.
Buddy was especially fond of children, most of all his grandsons, who knew him as “Papa” and “Chief”. All have dear memories of his shenanigans, from his unorthodox approach to getting cleaned up (via the outdoor hose!) to the times he spent with them tinkering and building in his “workshop." All the while, he shared his values, manners, and code of kindness with them. Among other things, he taught every young man that he came across how to properly shake hands.
Preceded in death by his parents, Tennyson and Laura Kate Owens Dennis, and his sister, Sarah Dennis Hopkins, Buddy is survived by his wife, Patricia; his daughters Elizabeth Claire Douglas (John Spires Douglas) of Asheville, North Carolina, and Susan Farish Horn of Santa Rosa Beach, Florida; his grandsons John Kelly Douglas and Charles Howard Douglas of Asheville, North Carolina; Peter Moya Horn III (Natalie Sharkey) of Santa Rosa Beach, Florida; and Tennyson Farish Horn (Danae Warmsby) of Chicago, Illinois.
A Celebration of Life and Interment Service will be held in Montgomery in Spring 2020 at a date to be determined.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be directed to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, Tennessee, 38105.
You’ve got to think of the fine times you had with your mate, not the moment of his perishin’. Every tear you shed now only wets his windin’ sheet and disturbs his rest
– L.A. Meyer
Fair winds and following seas.
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