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Shirley Jean Dennis

September 8, 1935 ~ February 24, 2024 (age 88) 88 Years Old
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Shirley Dennis Obituary

Shirley Jean Dennis, 88, of Florence, AL, died February 24, 2024, at Helen Keller Hospital in Sheffield, after battling cancer. She was a native of Waterloo, AL, and daughter of the late Clarence and Ersley Dennis. After living in Arkansas for several years during her early childhood, her family moved to Florence where she was among the first attendees of Kilby Laboratory School. After marrying Edwin Gean, her family moved to Mishawaka, IN, in the early 1950s where she worked for several years as a hospital nurse’s assistant. Her family returned to north Alabama in the mid-1960s and settled in Waterloo. She earned her high school degree from Waterloo (AL) High School in 1968 as a returning student, during which she became the school secretary, a position she held for 10 years, before being recruited by a Mississippi education organizer to become Alabama’s first field director for the Alabama Education Association-affiliated E.S.P.O. (Education Support Personnel Organization). She started that position in 1976, retiring in 1995. Her efforts on behalf of education support personnel were widely praised and set a standard for others to follow. E.S.P.O. was eventually absorbed into A.E.A. and Shirley was re-assigned as a Uniserv director, representing school administrators, teachers, and support personnel in select counties in north Alabama. Her interests included traditional Southern cooking, collecting, travel, and vegetable and flower gardening.

In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her brother, Johnny Dennis, sister, Sandra Dennis Smith, former husband, Edwin Gean, and son, Denis Tennyson.

Survivors include her daughter, Brenda Johnson of Florence, son, Jeffrey Chandler of Harbeson, DE, brothers, Clarence W. “Buddy” Dennis (Rosa) and Donnie Dennis of Florence, grandson, Michael Johnson (Kim) of Florence, and great-grandson, Cody Johnson, of Cleveland, TN, numerous nieces, nephews, and extended family and friends.

A memorial gathering will be held later.

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