By Sam Doherty
Denzil Ray Pugh, an avid reader and philosopher who was assistant manager of the Brookhaven College Follett Bookstore, died May 12, 2015
Pugh, better known as Denny, was born Aug. 19, 1977, in Oklahoma City to Jack Pugh and Karen Mullins Pugh. He lived in Oklahoma with his parents and brother Kelly Pugh until the fifth grade. Afterward, his family moved to Conyers, Ga. where he lived for the rest of his childhood and most of his adult life after college.
As a child, Denzil was a gifted scholar and won the title of Outstanding Geography Student in Georgia. The award secured him a trip to D.C., where he competed against 49 other students from around the U.S. for the national award. This was the first of many academic achievements Denzil would be recognized for throughout his childhood. After, at the age of 37. He died due to a rare blood disorder.
As a child, Denzil was a gifted scholar and won the title of Outstanding Geography Student in Georgia. The award secured him a trip to D.C., where he competed against 49 other students from around the U.S. for the national award. This was the first of many academic achievements Denzil would be recognized for throughout his childhood. After graduating from Heritage High School in Conyers, Denzil attended Georgia College, where he received a bachelor’s in English and master’s in education.
One of Denzil’s passions in life was his blog where he shared his thoughts. Denzil updated his blog nearly every week, with new entries in which he wrote about life in general. Denzil’s poem “The Great Sleepers” won the 1999 Associated Writing Programs Intro Journals Award and was published in Bowling Green State University’s Mid-American Review.
Danzil took an assistant manager position at the Brookhaven bookstore in July 2014. Alex Mathew, bookstore manager, said he interviewed many applicants for the role and offered the job to Denzil because he immediately took a liking to him. Mathew said that after working in the retail business for more than 20 years, he had never had an employee who loved his job as much as Denzil did. His calm demeanor, honesty and humble attitude were some of the attributes people loved most about him.
As someone who loved to read, Denzil worked for Borders Bookstore and LifeWay Books in Conyers, Ga. He held those roles for many years after graduating college and volunteered at local libraries. He was also a member of the Friends of Nancy Guinn Library in Conyers before moving to Dallas in July 2014.
According to Kelly, Denzil had a special fondness for music, especially gospel and barbershop quartets. He said his brother also enjoyed cooking, especially during the holidays.
Another of Denzil’s passions was going on adventures – from his daily walk to more magnificent feats, such as climbing Arabia Mountain in Georgia. Kelly said, “His daily walks gave him a sense of tranquility, as he enjoyed the spirituality of nature along his paths.”
Mert Swearingen, Denzil’s aunt, said during a visit last Thanksgiving, Denny told his family how much he enjoyed working at the Brookhaven bookstore and how grateful he was for his co-workers.
Denzil is survived by his brother and sister-in-law, Kelly Pugh and Suzanne Cowan Pugh, and nephew, Jackson Thomas Pugh, of Covington. He is also survived by his aunt Mert Swearingen of Seattle, and many cousins of the Payne family in both Orange and League City, Texas.
A memorial service for Denzil was held at the Rockdale Leadership Center in Conyers, Ga. on May 30. A tree will be planted on campus in his honor because he touched the lives of so many students and staff members here at Brookhaven.