A tribute to Dennis Adams (affectionately known to us all as Den) on his retirement from the board of management of the JHF. Dennis’ involvement in Heritage goes back to the early days of the Parktown and Westcliff Heritage Trust, having been an active member since 1982 (38 years). He has been an activist and enthusiast in Johannesburg heritage in so many areas of endeavour: the selection, recording and researching of the Johannesburg 100 items for the City’s Centenary in 1986; researching, wording and steering through the manufacture of all the blue plaques until 18 months ago; developing and leading many tours not only in Parktown but also the City Centre and (his favourite) the Anglo-Boer War; Den and Flo pioneered the first tours of The Fort – now Constitution Hill, revelling in the underground tunnels and conducting very enthusiastic school boys through these.
Old Fort (The Heritage Portal)
For years Den led the team which broadcast heritage items weekly on Radio Today. He wasn’t very keen on doing the finances but he insisted on keeping the organisation in the black for many, many years before computer programmes relieved him of some of the load. He really enjoyed the publications starting with “Follow the Flags through Parktown for a glimpse of Johannesburg’s War” which traced many blue plaques and revealed just how many Parktown and Westcliff residents came as a result of the Anglo Boer War. His great coup was obtaining permission to edit and publish the War Diary of Isabella Lipp the only account of someone living in Johannesburg from the time war broke out on 10 October 1899 till the surrender to the British troops on 31st May 1900. He spent many hours in the library of Stellenbosch University pouring over the original document and deciphering Isabella’s handwriting.
For most of the time Den served as Vice Chairman shouldering the horrible task of reading insurance documents, lease agreements and contracts. His wife Jen has been a stalwart behind him for many years; she was our finest saleslady at the bookstalls and encouraging as well as managing heritage functions. The amazing part is that Den came to us from having worked on the Johannesburg Historical Foundation. He also served on the Egoli Heritage Trust and was involved in networking with other heritage organisations.
Thank you Den and Jen.
Flo Bird for the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation.