Issue:  Vol. 47 / No. 42 / 19 October 2017
 

Dallas Voice editor Dennis Vercher

NEWS


Liz@black-rose.com

Dennis Vercher III
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Longtime Dallas Voice senior editor Dennis Vercher III died at his home on Wednesday, September 27, after a lengthy battle with AIDS. He was 53.

Mr. Vercher joined the staff of Dallas Voice, a North Texas LGBT weekly newspaper, as a typographer in 1985; he assumed editorship of the paper in October 1986.

"He understood that publishing a newspaper is a team endeavor. Yet no one person contributed more than Dennis to make Dallas Voice what it is today," said owner and publisher Robert Moore. "He insisted on accuracy, fairness, balance, and respect for the reader."

Mr. Vercher was born in Orange, Texas, in 1953. He graduated in 1971 from West Orange High School, where he was a champion debater. He received his bachelor's degree in communications from Lamar University in Beaumont in 1975, where he also attended graduate school and was a debate instructor and coach until 1978.

After finishing school, Mr. Vercher worked as a news director and public affairs director for radio stations in Beaumont. A fan of classical music, he was an organist for various local churches. After moving to Dallas in 1981, he worked for Hospital Forms and Systems Corporation as a graphic artist and customer service manager.

Mr. Vercher was diagnosed with HIV disease in 1987. Despite several bouts with AIDS-related illnesses, he was among a relatively small number of survivors from that era who lived long enough to benefit from new antiretroviral therapies in the mid-1990s.

"I've always put my faith in the medical establishment, and through some lucky strokes of timing, they came through with what I needed, when I needed it," he said in a 2004 interview.

Mr. Vercher covered HIV/AIDS issues at the height of the epidemic, striving to remain objective in spite of his own diagnosis.

"I thought the activism was fabulous, although I could never talk about it because of being a journalist," he recalled in 2001. "In the 1980s, Dallas was looking the other way, and somebody had to say something to make a difference."

"People at the Dallas Morning News and other newspapers read the Voice class=articletext>, and when they saw what Dennis was doing, the stories he was covering, they decided to step up and cover those issues, too," said former Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance president William Waybourn.

Mr. Vercher was known to his colleagues as a dedicated and relentless worker, who on one occasion checked himself out of the hospital soon after major surgery to resume his duties at the paper. He continued working even after he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma earlier this year.

"He was one of the few people I've ever known who truly loved his job," said Mr. Vercher's life partner, Farron Campbell. "He felt that he helped people and he helped make a difference. That's what motivated him."

Mr. Vercher was a member of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, and served as president of the organization's Texas chapter from 1999 through 2002.

"Dennis had a profound impact on the local LGBT landscape," wrote NLGJA national President Eric Hegedus and Executive Director Pamela Strother in a letter to members announcing his death. "His work for the Voice over the last two decades contributed greatly to and chronicled some important times in the region for the LGBT communities, including a surge in visibility for LGBT people in day-to-day Dallas life."

Mr. Vercher received a Board of Directors Award from the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance in 1990 and a Shining Star Award from the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas in 2002. Last month, he was honored by the Dallas Tavern Guild for his contributions to the local community.

Mr. Vercher is survived by Campbell; by his father, Dennis Vercher II; and by two brothers, James and Don. A memorial service is planned for October 14 at the Cathedral of Hope in Dallas. Contributions in his memory may be made to a charity of the donor's choice.






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