Rich Dennison, an attorney and funeral home director in his hometown of Florence, has died at the age of 40, according to a post by his relatives on Facebook.
“I am sad to announce that Rich passed away peacefully in his sleep on Monday evening from a pre-existing heart condition,” said Doreen and Stacey Dennison. “We are in the process of making arrangements and will post again as soon as we know the details of when the services will be.”
An impassioned citizen, Mr. Dennison loved debate, discussion and the fiber of politics. He got his start in the government and politics arena when he interned in the Clinton White House as a speechwriter.
In 2007, the Democrat ran unsuccessfully for the state senate seat occupied by Senator Diane Allen.
“Everywhere I go,” he said 11 years ago, “people are expressing their supreme disappointment in the direction of our country – whether it’s the war in Iraq, the widening gap between the haves and the have nots, the millions of Americans who don’t have even the most basic health coverage…”
He wanted to do something about that.
He ran a 2017 gubernatorial candidacy up the flagpole.
“I care much about my state, so I might throw my hat in the ring for Governor of this great state of NJ,” he said in 2015. “Who’s better to do it, and who is stopping me? Should we, as Democrats, settle? Let’s face it, they all have their misgivings and “less than” qualities. One would be a fool to count me out… I’d be the only candidate hailing from the Liberal wing of our party… this is the voice most of us have been waiting for years now. Trust me, I can beat the big money and the party bosses on this one because for one reason–it’s all about you…”
At the time of his death, he was again a candidate, this time for Congress in the 3rd District.
In his last Facebook post, he wrote, below a high school photo of himself in his football uniform, “This all goes back quite a lot of years, but I’ll tell you something, what you learn then sticks with you throughout life. I owe a lifetime of gratitude to Coach Tom Maderia, who never quit on us, and so, I’d never quit on him. A coach like that you learn from, and what I mean is, you learn life’s lessons and to never, ever quit. All of our kids can benefit from such a lesson, no? You’ve got to push it. Life is hard. I’ve found that at every turn, still do, particularly as I try to push it to the next level, again and again. But, I will never give up. Believe that. Neither should you. Never, ever give up!”
A devotee of New Jersey political history, Mr. Dennison was happy to point out to anyone who would listen that he hailed from the same town as the late Governor Richard J. Hughes, the setting for his family business, the Dennison Funeral Homes, and ever the bucolic setting for a plaque honoring the local Governor he loved.