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Bessie R. Denes

Loving wife, mother and grandmother

On April 19, 2017, longtime Claremont resident Bessie R. Denes died of natural causes at the age of 96. 

She was born in 1921 to Alva Earl Lynam of Bond, Illinois and Alice Violet Gaither Lynam of Waldron, Kansas. Bessie was raised in Anthony, Kansas where she was one of eight children, including Dwight, Anith, Genia, Betty, Joann, Aline and Jack. She graduated from Anthony High School in 1938 and moved to Wichita, Kansas where she attended and graduated from the Wichita Business College. As the need for military aircraft increased with the beginning of World War II, Bessie went to work first for private defense industries in Wichita, including Boeing Aircraft, and later as a civilian employee of the US Air Force. In 1945, as the war was ending, she moved to Hollywood, California, initially working at PG&E in the engineering department and later as an executive secretary for a local businessman. 

While living and working in Hollywood, Bessie met George Denes, a violinist and orchestral conductor, whom she would marry in 1947. They had three children, Douglas Denes, Gwendolyn Denes Hoyt and Steven Denes, while George completed his Bachelor of Arts and teaching credential in music from UCLA. In 1951, the family relocated to Claremont where George taught instrumental music in grades 4 through 12 and founded the Claremont Civic Symphony Orchestra. In 1956, Mrs. Denes gave birth to their last child, Christopher Denes, and all four children eventually attended and graduated from the Claremont Unified School District.

Upon Mr. Denes’ retirement in the mid-1980s, they moved to Dana Point where they lived until George’s passing in 2004; and in 2005, Bessie returned to Claremont to become a resident at the Mt. San Antonio Gardens. Mrs. Denes remained at the Gardens as a happy resident until her death, close to her children Chris and Gwen, who live in Claremont and Upland, respectively.

Bessie’s 96 years were devoted to her growing family, all of whom loved her dearly and visited her often, including her nine grandchildren, Damien Denes, Benjamin Hoyt, Andrew Hoyt, George Denes, Elizabeth Hoyt Velten, Thomas Denes, Jessica Denes, Bryon Denes and Ilona Denes, as well as her six great-grandchildren, Breana Denes, McKinsey Denes, Trinity Denes, Sam Denes, Sophia Denes and Jack Hoyt.

Later this year at a family gathering, Bessie’s ashes will be lovingly spread at sea near Dana Point where they will be reunited with George’s ashes. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in Bessie’s name to either the Claremont Symphony Orchestra or to the residents’ assistance fund at the Mt. San Antonio Gardens. Contact: Claremont.symphony.orchestra@gmail.com (909) 596-5979 or msagardens.org (909) 624-5061.