Floral 11

Bessie Jeannette Dennis

October 10, 1934 ~ August 27, 2023 (age 88) 88 Years Old


Bessie Jeannette Dennis, age 88, of Knoxville, TN. Passed away gracefully at her son’s home on August 27, 2023. Bessie was born in Knoxville on October 10, 1934, and spent the majority of her informative years in Cleveland, Ohio. She graduated from Austin High School in 1952and she graduated from Knoxville College in 1956. After graduating from Knoxville College, she attended Tennessee State University of Aquatic Studies, where she earned a certification in aquatic sports, swimming, and Lifeguard skills. She also attended Bank Street College of Education in New York, and later, she received additional training and certification in Education at the University of Tennessee. 

She taught school at Cathedral Catholic High School in five different boroughs in New York City. She also gave swimming instructions at the YWCA in Harlem. As an early childhood education specialist, she taught kindergarten at Lamco International School in Nimba, Liberia, West Africa, and at the American Cooperative School in Monrovia, Liberia. With assistance from local government in Liberia, she and Dr. Elain Wolo co-founded a branch of the YMCA in Nimba. This initiative made it possible for the local, underprivileged students to obtain a quality education, and many of them received scholarship assistance. After returning to the United States, she joined the Knox County School System, where she taught at Fair Garden and Spring Hill Elementary Schools for 36 years. Before becoming a member of Payne Avenue Missionary Baptist Church, Bessie was a member of Logan Temple, where she played an active role in the Youth Department, sponsoring such outreach programs and seminars as Varick Christian Endeavor.  

Bessie is preceded in death by her husband, The Late Gabriel D. Dennis I, and her parents, Kenneth Badgette and Bridget Watson Badgette. She is survived by her loving children Bridget Dennis and Gabriel (Angela) Dennis II, grandchildren Madia Dennis, Gabriel Dennis III, and De’Aries Batmon, great-grandson Zaiden Turner, all of Knoxville, and her little sister Paul Smith of Nashville, TN, and a host of family. 

The family would like to thank Howard Circle of Friend and Azlheimer’s Tennessee, and a very special thank you to Smokey Mountain Hospice and the entire staff. The Dennis Family would also like to thank  Family and Friends who helped out with Bessie; you know who you are.

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Receiving Friends
September 1, 2023

11:30 AM to 12:00 PM
Payne Avenue Missionary Baptist Church

Funeral Service
September 1, 2023

12:00 PM
Payne Avenue Missionary Baptist Church

September 1, 2023

2:00 PM
Highland Memorial Cemetery


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