(left to right) Dr. Robert G. Wright, Rev Calvin E. Kossie, Tre’Mayne Maxie (sponsor), Deacon James E. Dennis, Jr., Deacon David Daniel Kelly, and Veronica Maxie (sponsor). Not pictured: Mary Strozier Kossie and Lloyd L. Bearden, Sr.
For the 9th consecutive year, Washingtonians have come together to recognize and celebrate the lifetime accomplishments of local senior citizens who have given unselfishly to their community and to the county. At an August 11th “Celebrate Our Seniors” ceremony, over 150 people participated in a program honoring the individual accomplishments of James E. Dennis, Jr., David Daniel Kelly, Dr. Robert G. Wright, and Lloyd L. Bearden, Sr. (awarded posthumously). Additionally, Pastor Calvin E. Kossie and wife, Mary Strozier Kossie, were presented the “Rev. James E. Dennis and Sister Hester Dennis Honorary Citizens Award”, which is presented to an exemplar couple for their steadfast devotion and long-term commitment to the people of Washington County through faithful service to God.
Lloyd L. Bearden, Sr. Lloyd Bearden has always been a highly respected member of the Washington County community. That is why, upon the death of Washington County’s first African American County Commissioner (David Simpson), Lloyd Bearden was appointed to fill Simpson’s unexpired term of office. Having a keen eye for detail and an innate ability to communicate and synthesize information, Bearden cooperatively worked with the other commissioners to ensure funding and support for his precinct’s infrastructure. However, his exceptional performance as county commissioner was only one of the roles he performed in life. After graduating from A.R. Pickard High School in Brenham and serving honorably in the U.S. Army, Bearden served as a maintenance technician for the Houston Independent School District. Initially a boiler technician, he ended up supervising a team of technicians responsible for maintaining several schools in the district. His “retirement” from the Houston ISD was Washington County’s gain for he became active locally in the Brenham Citizens Police Academy, the local branch of the American Association of Retired Persons, the Lions Club, and ultimately as county commissioner. Bearden was also a founding member of his beloved New Beginnings Missionary Baptist Church, where he served as a deacon and armor-bearer. (Bearden passed away in June 2012 and family members accepted the award on his behalf.)
James E. Dennis, Jr. Dennis is Professor Emeritus of History at California State University – Northridge, where he served for 33 years as a university professor, culminating as chairman of the Pan African Studies Department. For the last 6 years, he has been active locally as a deacon and trustee of Mt. Rose Missionary Baptist Church, the church his father, the late Rev. James E Dennis, Sr., was pastor of for 50 years. In addition Professor Dennis has served as a substitute teacher at Brenham ISD and as a mentor and role model for area children and young adults. He is also active politically – including a run for the Brenham School Board – and socially, where he is involved with several local civic and professional organizations. A Korean War era veteran, Dennis graduated from A.R. Pickard High School in Brenham. Subsequently, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in government from California State University – Los Angeles and a Master of Arts degree in political science from California State University – Northridge. Of particular note, during the 50th anniversary ceremony of the 1961 Freedom Rides, Dennis was recognized for his civil rights era contributions as one of the famed Freedom Riders.
David Daniel Kelly. Kelly exemplifies the consummate community activist who quietly leads by example. Deeply religious and a pillar in the church and in the community, Deacon Kelly has served God as a deacon at Rocky Chapel Baptist Church for over 50 years. Even today, he is active in his church, and when he visits other churches, it is not uncommon for pastors to spontaneously call upon him to lead their congregation in the devotional period. A World War II veteran, Kelly travelled the world in a segregated Army, yet he has only positive experiences to relate from that time. That is one of the reasons he continues to be an active and supportive member of American Legion Post 814. Returning from the war, he farmed in the Sandy Hill area of Washington County for many years, before moving into the construction industry, where he worked for over 35 years.
Dr. Robert G. Wright. Wright is a widely recognized leader in Washington County. His volunteerism affiliations extend across all facets of civic, religious, business, and private organizations. A retired U.S. Air Force officer, he has served as a municipal court judge and as vice president for academic affairs at Blinn College. He has also served as president of the Washington County Chamber of Commerce, the Kiwanis Club of Brenham, the Republican Club of Washington County, and the Brenham Activist Association. Additionally, he has served as director of the Washington County Boys and Girls Club, the Washington County United Way, the Brazos Valley Council of Governments, and the A.R. Pickard Reunion Association, Inc. Plus, he has served as commander of the James F. Dillon VFW Post #7104 and the Washington County Veterans Organization. And he has served as a trustee and Board chairman of Mt. Rose Missionary Baptist Church. Wright’s numerous accomplishments and accolades began with his graduation from Brenham’s A.R. Pickard High School, where he lettered in track and football. While in the Air Force, he received a Bachelor of Science degree in business and economics from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He also received a Master’s degree in public administration from the University of Northern Colorado at Greely, and a doctorate of philosophy in education administration from Texas A&M University at College Station.