Good-bye, Mr. D.

Our longtime family friend Harry Denney died on Wednesday, June 18. Whenever I think about him, my mind returns to Long Island Sound and those countless outings on our boats. I feel the summer heat clinging to everything, the sand as my flip-flops shoot it up the back of my salty wet legs, the press of the webbing of old aluminum lawn chairs in the back of my legs...I taste the awful chili again, and I wait for the silliness and adventure that came with having anything at all to do with Mr. D.

But silliness and adventure won't come. Those days are over even if they live well in the Shangri-La of memory.

Memory....Here's one that firmly planted Mr. D. and my dad as heroes in my mind.

I recall a relentlessly stormy night of one of our camping trips on Shea Island in Long Island Sound. Though we could see Norwalk from our campsite, the yellow lights of civilization offered no comfort that particular evening. There would be no getting there from where we were. So, after the campfire and Mr. D's Tommy Peach-fuzz stories and the right amount of marshmallows, licorice, and who knows what, we fell inside our tents and let Mother Nature have at it.

One thing every camper knows is to never under any circumstances touch the side of the tent lest dampness or rain seep in. So there we were, dad and me and my sister in the bizarre suspended animation of the tent dweller. You breathe but you don't breathe, you move but you don't move when a false move can bring the water in and kill your last bit of comfort.

I slept. With my dad behind me and Mr. D. two small tents away, I had no worries. My godfather (another member of the Dummy Club who took the dummy cake at every turn) was in his big tent with his daughters, and all three of these people were sleeping on the sissiest of cots (a matter about which we teased them unmercifully), but no matter. Our troupe was flanked by two giants. Who needs more?

At some point later, I awoke to the sounds of my dad and Mr. D. working hard in the pitch dark of the storm to secure their boats and my godfather's. It seemed hours rolled by as they fought the dark, the wind, the rain, the shifting sand, the waves....I lay there and listened, sure they would finish the job and go back to sleep.

And they did. Eventually. After dad and Mr. D. climbed into their tents and lay down again, my godfather chirped, "Need any help?"

What a dummy. My dad and Mr. D. razzed him the next day. And for quite a while after that.

And we never forgot: My dad and Mr. D. took on that storm and won.

Rest well, Mr. D.

The obituary:
Denney, Harry L., 73, of Hartford Ave., formerly of Connecticut, died June 18, 2008 in North Providence, at the home of his loving friend, Madeline Boyer. Born in Denver, CO, he was the son of the late Harry T. and Mary M. (Lobeda) Denney.

Harry was an installer with Southern New England Telephone of Connecticut before retiring. He also was a self-employed landscaper and a custodian at St. Robert Bellarmine Church. Harry was a Marine Corps veteran of Korea and was a friend of Bill W.

Besides his friend, Madeline and her family, he leaves three children, Donna Zenhye of Burlington, CT, Susan Polka of Norwalk, CT, and H. Lee Denney of Bethel, CT, six grandchildren, and a sister, Doris Denney of Boise, ID.

Relatives and friends are invited to a Mass of Christian Burial Monday at 10 am in St. Robert Bellarmine Church, Johnston. Military honors will follow. Burial will be private. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the St. Robert Bellarmine Food Closet, 1804 Atwood Ave., Johnston, RI 02919 or to VNS of Greater RI, 6 Blackstone Valley Place, Suite 515, Lincoln, RI 02865. For guestbook and condolences, visit


  1. Wonderful photos and memories. I'm very sorry for your loss.

    Peace - D

  2. Anonymous11:22 PM

    This is a wonderful tribute to his memory. I look forward to more stories about Mr. D.

  3. lovely tribute Sandy.

  4. Beautiful memories of this man who meant so much to YOU and your family.. may he RIP

  5. Anonymous4:12 PM

    Sad to see somebody leave us who holds such dear memories.

    I don't much like when people tell me as a way of consolation that we have the memories, the stories. Of course, they're right, and thinking of those stories bring those gone back to life in a way. It's not the same as having them here, as we know, but it's a special nonetheless to have stories to tell.

  6. It sounds like you have many fond memories of Mr D Sandy. Those memories will stay in your heart forever. What a lovely tribute to a special man. I'm very sorry for your loss.

  7. I wish I could have known him. He was quite good looking. I just love your wonderful stories of childhood — stories I never experienced. And this one had me chuckling. I love it when you godfather waited until after the work was done to volunteer to help!

  8. Lovely memories. Glad you shared them. Your godfather sounds like a man with a very good sense of humor!

  9. Sandy, this is a touching tribute to this man.

  10. Anonymous7:21 PM

    I am sorry for your loss. Memories are nice but eye to eye contact is much better.

  11. Sandy - I am sorry for your loss. I am glad though that you have those memories. He sounds like he was a big man, in more ways than one.

    May he rest in peace.

  12. Anonymous4:33 PM

    Good for Harry! I have much respect for other friends of Bill W.

  13. Anonymous5:05 PM

    Hi Sandy, it's Lee D
    I lost your email, been tring to get to you.. I need to ask you something about something i'm doing

    PLEASE email me @

    Thank you

    LEE D.

  14. Anonymous5:06 PM

    Hi sandy this is Lee
    I lost yyour email addy, I need your opin. about something Please email me

    again Lee D


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