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Sep 6, 2015 6:09 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Avery 'Chief Eagle Eye' Dennis Sr. Dies September 5

Sep 8, 2015 10:39 AM

Avery “Chief Eagle Eye” Dennis Sr., one of the longest serving elected leaders of the Shinnecock Indian Nation, died on Saturday, September 5, surrounded by his family. He was 86.

A lifelong resident of the Shinnecock Indian Reservation, Mr. Dennis sat as a tribal trustee for 19 years upon his return from service in the U.S. Air Corps during World War II. He was also employed for 26 years with the U.S. Postal Service.

Born on April 4, 1929, the son of William Penn and Pauline Dennis, he grew up on the Shinnecock Indian Reservation and attended the Shinnecock one-room schoolhouse.

Later, while in his 50s, he completed his high school education, received a diploma, and went on to study and pursue a career as a substance abuse counselor. More than 60 years ago he introduced a sobriety recovery program on the Shinnecock Reservation that still thrives today. His love of planes prompted him to enlist and serve his country honorably in the Air Corps during World War II, earning the rank of sergeant. After being honorably discharged, he returned home to his beloved Shinnecock Nation and gained employment with the U.S. Postal Service, retiring after 20 years.

In 1949, he married his longtime love, Dorothy Smith. Together they created a lifetime of memories.

During his many years as a tribal trustee, he advocated for land rights, federal recognition and protecting the Shinnecock Nation’s sovereignty. He was an Elder of the Shinnecock Presbyterian Church and an active member of the Shinnecock community. He enjoyed attending and participating in civic, Native American events and powwows. He spent his time boating or working on his boat, Chief Eagle Eye, fishing, swimming and traveling the States with his wife. To his close friends he was also known as “Hammer!” and he could be described as a stern but kindhearted man, survivors said, adding that he loved and was committed to his family, his Nation and his faith in a higher power.

He is survived by his wife, Dorothy Dennis; daughters Diane Smith and Doreen Dennis-Pepe; sons, Avery Dennis Jr., Andre Dennis, Alton Dennis and Danny Collins Sr.; daughters-in-law, Denise Silva-Dennis and Saundra Dennis; and a son-in-law, Frank Pepe. Mr. Dennis is also survived by 17 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren; and a godson, Lyle Smith. He was predeceased by a daughter, Darlene Dennis, and twins, who died at birth.

A wake took place on Monday, September 7, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Brockett Funeral Home in Southampton. A memorial service was held on Tuesday, September 8, starting at 1 p.m., at the Shinnecock Presbyterian Church on the reservation.

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RIP such a nice man, he will be missed by many.
By metsfan2 (163), southampton on Sep 6, 15 7:19 PM
He was a nice man...I remember him as a mailman walking the route with BeeBee the dog. Always a smile.
By AnonymousSgh (183), Sag Harbor on Sep 6, 15 11:18 PM
1 member liked this comment
I will always remember Avery a wise gentle and kind man.
By greeneyedlady (55), East Quogue on Sep 7, 15 9:13 AM
Was a good friend-thoughts and prayers for Dorothy and family.
By westhamptonboy (227), Westhampton on Sep 7, 15 10:42 AM
Rest in Peace “Chief Eagle Eye” !!!!!
By Summer Resident (251), Southampton N.Y. on Sep 8, 15 1:09 AM
Rip Avery, a true gentlemen
By fish sticks (53), hampton bays on Sep 8, 15 11:16 AM