Posted by Christine Elston
Dennis and Jane Johnson were married in 1967 and moved into a new house up Northgate, they joined other newly-weds the Elston’s, Drew’s and Collinson’s as they started on married life. Little did they know that they would remain friends for over 50 years. Raising families and becoming immersed in the community of Walkington.
The village at that time was entering an intense period of activity and development and was held together by many community activities.
One of these which was well established was the football team, Dennis who had been head-boy at Hornsea school and was a keen footballer, joined straight away and he always had a tale to tell of antics on the field.
Dennis’s previous experiences in amateur dramatics brought him into the panto cast. He was snapped up by George Cornmell for the first panto being a natural and went on to direct the panto for many years, bringing delight to generations of villagers.
Both Den and Jane were very good at quizzes and Dennis who was a regular participant took over as quiz master after Mike Scrowston’s untimely death. He always made the quiz nights entertaining for the audience and understood that the quizzes were one of the essential cogs which brought together different sections of a growing and diversifying village.
Together with Jock Thomson and others with Scottish connections he organised the annual Burns night dinner, and as Mike Gray said during Dennis’s funeral service, was well skilled in waiting until participants had downed a few glasses of the amber nectar before placing a hand on their shoulder and getting them to willingly agree to give a speech at the next dinner.
I was one who although having no Scottish connections (apart from my girls having a Bay City Rollers LP) agreed to do the toast to the laddies.
Many people will have had the same experience and as Mike said spent the next year worrying about what they were going to say !
Dennis himself was an excellent after dinner speaker keeping people laughing for hours.
He knew how to enjoy himself and spent many a happy, but competitive hour on the golf course, snooker table and bowls green.
In his professional career he gave advice to countless people and many of us are grateful for it.
His illness took everyone by surprise and we were saddened by his demise. His sense of humour and positive approach to life has been passed to his girls, Emma and Caroline and his grandchildren Ciara, Adam, Ewan and Fin.
We send our sincere condolences to Jane, his love and soul mate, he will certainly be missed by his many friends.
Posted by Chris and Keith Totten
Keith and I had the good fortune to meet Dennis and Jane in 2000. We joined them at the Fergie on a Friday night with a few other couples. Dennis regaled us with stories of the Pantomime and funny events that had happened in the village over the many years he and Jane had lived here. It was always a noisy and enjoyable evening.
Dennis was ever the gentleman always ensuring the ladies were seated comfortably and had drinks and we always enjoyed our Friday evenings. We were introduced to many other villagers through Dennis and Jane’s lunchtime Christmas Party where they were the perfect hosts and the wine flowed freely. At one Christmas Party the oven door had broken and Dennis improvised a broom handle to secure the door to cook their turkey!
Dennis liked his golf and we spent a happy few days at Muirfield with them for the Open in 2002. Keith was part of a quiz team and Dennis was the Quiz Master as one of his many involvements with village life. The Bowls Club, Burns Night, Pantomime Players and Quizzes were all part of his life with the village.
Dennis was a keen Sci-Fi fan and we went to the cinema together to see the Star Wars Trilogy as our respective partners are not Sci-Fi fans! Dennis always brought sweets and bought me a glass of wine on these occasions. As ever he was the perfect gentleman and always good fun.
Dennis was keen on football supporting Man City but always discussed Newcastle United with Keith and kept a close eye on their results. Dennis and Jane were keen followers of the Blog and often contributed stories and funny anecdotes for Keith to put on the Blog.
Dennis was a huge part of village life for many years. His involvement in so many things, his good humour and kindness will be very much missed.