Reverend HD Dennis
At the age of 96, Reverend Herman "Preacher" Dennis has passed away. He and his wife, Margaret, transformed their home outside Vicksburg, Mississippi, into a folk art haven, where the Reverend preached the gospel. The couple married in 1984 and spent two decades decorating the old grocery store that Margaret once ran, into a site that the world would come to see, as promised by the Reverend. He viewed his work on the Grocery as part of his ministry, a place for people to come to worship and listen to his sermons, often focussing on the message that God created us all as equals.
Suzi Altman, a renowned Mississippi photographer, has made it a mission to preserve Margaret’s Grocery, and has started an organisation to achieve that task and to make an interactive museum of folk art and literacy, serving to pass on to future generations these important Mississippi relics and traditions.
image © Bruce West
Reverend Dennis was proud of being a preacher, of having served in the army where he was injured and then taught how to be a mason, and he was very proud to be a husband to Margaret. He also took pride in the "castle" that he built and the old school bus that he lovingly turned into a sanctuary in order to preach the gospel. He would place people in the seats of the bus and deliver sermons to them, making the bus almost like a church.
Though Reverend Dennis has now passed on, the powerful wording embroidered on his casket, "May the work I have done speak for me", requests that his legacy should live on through his creations, though he will also be remembered through the numerous stories and photographs, and the many relationships he fostered with so many people.
by Natasha Jaeger