Jessie Carroll Wilson Denning, known to family and friends as "Monk,", passed away on Wednesday, February 24, 2021, at the age of 77 years in Henrico Doctors Hospital in Richmond, VA, after a year of suffering, being in and out of hospitals and rehab nursing homes. What a “Fighter Jessie was!”
Jessie, a loving husband, father, son and brother, was born on March 11, 1943 in Grantham Township, Wayne County, North Carolina. He was the fifth child, second son born to Clarence William and Velaria Mae (Westbrook) Denning. He grew up on a very small farm in rural North Carolina and attended Grantham School. Jessie was a handsome man with coal black hair, dreamy blue eyes, an ever-welcoming smile which accompanied an easy-going, friendly demeanor.
Jessie (named after his Granddaddy Denning) lived with his grandparents for a short time as a young boy. Jessie, nicknamed “Monk”, was favored by his Uncle Blaney who bought him his first bicycle (One of his favorite stories to tell of his childhood!).
Being a child growing up during the 1940s and ‘50s, proved to be a difficult challenge for Jessie as it was for many folks coming from very large families. Folks could barely afford the mere necessities, and were still reeling from the effects of the Second World War. Like his grandparents, parents and all his siblings, Jessie worked hard as a young boy in the tobacco fields, corn fields and cotton patches; and he knew that farming was not the life he wanted to make his living from.
When Jessie was sixteen, like so many that age, he quit school and left home to make his way in the world. He was often teased that he had discovered the “Road to Richmond” where his two older sisters lived. He then lived with his sister, Viola and family, delivering newspapers on a bicycle as well as delivering groceries from Baynes Grocery Store on Hull Street Road to Southside residents until he could find his first ‘real job’. Jessie worked hard and held many jobs before deciding to go into the paint business. Jessie was fortunate to land a job working for Hungerford Painting and Construction (with the help of his brother Duke, who already worked at Hungerford). They both remained employees there for a number of years. In later years, the brothers, Jessie, Duke and Dennis all worked for Glidewell Brothers, Inc., Industrial Group Contractors. They all quickly learned the “ins and outs” of the painting profession and enjoyed the benefits of working for a huge company.
After a few years of working at Glidewell Brothers and his knowledge and confidence built, Jessie made his best decision to start his own commercial and residential paint business … Denning Paint of Richmond, VA was born! Jessie had many successful and profitable years serving his loyal and faithful customers on the Southside, finally retiring at age 66, (still managing to do a few jobs for special customers). We, the Denning Family, are all so very proud of all his accomplishments!
Jessie loved going to Lake Gaston, partying with family and friends, riding on his golf cart, fishing and being outside with nature. He also enjoyed gardening and was very good at it. Still a farmer, he didn’t mind getting dirt underneath his fingernails in his backyard garden! He would always till the dirt, plant and tend his favorite vegetables for eating, canning and freezing. Okra, Okra, Okra, was his favorite thing to grow … His okra crop was monumental last year! He had to stand on a 16 ft. ladder to cut it, and a friend came over to take his picture according to Ruthie!
In the last few years with the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, Jessie learned to live in a small world. He had help with his yardwork and his garden, usually his brother, Duke, or his neighbor. Also, always close by his side, his very best friend, his little Chihuahua dog, Bella. They both enjoyed taking long walks around the neighborhood as well as watching Gunsmoke with Matt Dillon while maybe napping together on the couch. Monk loved that dog, his constant companion!
Jessie is survived by Ruth, his wife of 10 years; his son, Mike (Tatiana); a stepdaughter, Gladys Rivera-Hawkes (Robert); two granddaughters, a grandson, a step-grandson and three great-grandchildren; his brothers, Laydon Denning (Lalon) of Mt. Olive, NC; Ed (Pansy) Denning of Roseboro, NC; Duke (Jean) Denning of Richmond, VA; a sister, Betty Lou (Denning) Booska-Salmons (Ron) of Mexico, MO; and a host of loving nieces, nephews and cousins.
Jessie was preceded in death by his parents, Mae and Clarence Denning; his three sons: Kirk, Jessie Warren and Troy Denning; his sisters, Rochelle Denning, Viola Mae Denning Gilbert, Janice Lee Denning and Bernise Denning Swiger; and his youngest brother, Dennis E. Denning.
A Celebration of Jessie’s Life will be held on Monday evening, March 1, 2021, from 6 pm to 8 pm at Morrissett Funeral and Cremation Service at 6500 Iron Bridge Road, Richmond, VA. (Condolences may be left for the family on their website, www.morrissett.com )
Graveside Services and Interment will be on Wednesday, March 3, 2021 at 1:00 pm at the Jesse F. Denning Family Cemetery at 295 Richard Smith Road, Four Oaks, NC, with the Rev. Ricky Lee officiating.
Family, friends and neighbors are welcome to attend both services while following social distancing guidelines. Please stay six feet apart and avoid close contact. Anyone in attendance is asked to wear a mask.
Memorial donations may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association or to a charity of the donor’s choice in Jessie’s memory.
Shumate-Faulk Funeral Home and Crematory is assisting the Denning Family with local arrangements, and online condolences may be left for the family on this site …
Prepared by Betty Lou (Denning) Booska-Salmons
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