by Anne D. Williams
W. Rally Dennis, a founding member of the AGPC, died on May 25, 2012 in Keene, New Hampshire. He was 93 years old.
Rally and his wife Lee began collecting games in the 1950s when they bought an old Victorian mahogany game table and found three board games inside it. After some years of collecting and dealing in antiques, they converted part of their Peterborough, New Hampshire, home into a private museum. Many game lovers found their initial inspiration for collecting when they visited the Dennis’s “Game Preserve”, which contained 1200 early American board and card games.
When Rally and Lee helped Bruce Whitehill start the American Game Collectors Association in 1985, they publicized it tirelessly and brought many members to what is now the AGPC. A licensed auctioneer, Rally ran the annual auction at our first few conventions. He and Lee were also active in the Antique Toy Collectors of America.
After the Dennis’s retirement, Skinners of Bolton, Massachusetts sold the Game Preserve collection in the first U.S. auction devoted entirely to games. Club members flocked to the sale, buying many rare and unusual games to fill gaps in their own collections. The 1988 sale set records for the time: $2400 for a Darrow Monopoly game and $4600 for a McLoughlin Man in the Moon.
A graduate of Columbia University, Rally served with distinction in the military during World War II. After that he worked as an advertising sales executive with the Saturday Evening Post and other national magazines. He was also a licensed real estate broker.
Survivors include daughter Jo-Ann Dennis Safdie of Providence, Rhode Island, son Bruce N. Dennis of Greenfield, New Hampshire, two grandsons, and a great grandson. Lee, the author of the first price guide to American games, Warman’s Antique American Games—1840-1940, died in 2002.
Rally is at the left in photo 1 and at the right in photo 2. He and Lee are 3rd and 2nd from the right in photo 3. These photos were taken in 1987 and 1988. Photos: courtesy Anne Williams.
Here are some articles about Lee and Rally Dennis:
- Monadnock Ledger-Transcript, obituary of Rally Dennis, June 2012
- Christian Science Monitor, 6 May 1981
- Peterborough (New Hampshire) Transcript, 8 December 1983
- The Telegraph (New Hampshire), 24 May 1987
- Chicago Tribune, 2 September 1988
- New York Times, 9 September 1988
- Philadelphia Enquirer, 11 September 1988
- McCall’s magazine, 23 October 1988