Birthday time to celebrate special gentleman
by Juanita Hughes, columnist
April 02, 2014 12:02 AM | 1014 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Juanita Hughes
Juanita Hughes
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We all have birthdays every year, but these party animals in Woodstock just can’t allow those big ones to go by without some extra celebrating. Today, we’ll kick off a few days’ worth of birthday fun as Denver Rainey marks the completion of nine decades.

He’s been a regular at the Dean’s Store morning gatherings since his retirement many years ago. After retiring from his first career with the state of Georgia’s Department of Audits, he worked part time for a few years at Morgan’s Hardware. But there was an empty chair at Dean’s Store and he couldn’t resist its call. Of course there were lots of leisure hours, and he filled those with meaningful activities.

Denver lived in Forsyth and Pickens counties before moving to the Hightower Community, where he lived when he graduated from the old Canton High School. He moved to Woodstock in 1945. He married Deloris Bowles, daughter of C.J. and Henrietta Bowles. They have two daughters, Pam and Cheryl, and a grandson and great-granddaughter.

Denver was a charter member of the Woodstock Lions Club when it was organized in 1961. He is the only charter member who has remained active in the club. That does not mean he simply paid his dues and showed up. If the Lions had a project, you would see Denver there. He has done it all … held almost every office, including two terms as president; served as a director; and chaired and served on committees of all kinds.

He has stood with other Lions at storefronts on White Cane Day. He has cooked and served and waited tables at chicken dinners, spaghetti suppers and pancake breakfasts. He has helped put up flags on designated holidays, worked at concession stands and assisted with vision screenings. And if the Lions have an entry in any of Woodstock’s famous parades, you can be sure he helped with decorating it and/or occupying a spot on it as well.

His favorite Lions work has been with the Georgia Lions Camp for the Blind in Waycross. For 20 consecutive years, he spent a week at the camp, preparing the cabins and grounds for the annual visits of blind children from all over Georgia. He no longer participates in this project, but his heart is with the camp and the work that is done there.

He has been recognized by Lions with numerous awards for his devotion to the ideals of Lionism. These include Lion of the Year, chosen by fellow Lions; The Melvin Jones Fellowship Award, named for the founder of Lions International; and the District 18-A Hall of Fame Award.

When the Woodstock Centennial Commission was created prior to the city’s 1997 centennial, Denver was very much involved with that. He was recognized by the commission in 2004 with the Citizen of the Year Award, given annually to a Woodstock citizen who has shown dedication to the preservation of the city’s history and heritage. He maintains his membership in the organization, now called Preservation Woodstock Inc.

One of the members, Mary Lou Reece, nominated Denver for the award. She is quoted in the Tribune saying, “Denver is just a quiet person who does a lot of good that nobody ever recognizes. He does the things that need to be done without any fanfare. He’s somebody who can be counted on. When he agrees to do something, he does it. His word is his bond.”

Denver’s ancestry fuels his interest in history. He takes pride in being the grandson of a Confederate veteran and the great-grandson of a Continental soldier.

Perhaps these ancestors have motivated Denver’s interest in cemeteries, especially the Enon Cemetery here in Woodstock. For many years, Denver was the go-to person when someone had questions about the cemetery. Enon Church was the forerunner of First Baptist, and Denver’s devotion to the church was evident as he efficiently and lovingly oversaw the maintenance and growth of the burial grounds for many Woodstock citizens.

We still go to him with Enon questions and Lions questions. I guess we take him for granted. But not today. Happy 90th Birthday, Denver.

Juanita Hughes is retired head of the Woodstock Library.
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