- May 22, 2015
Lois Dennis and her two sisters were known as the strawberry girls when they were growing up in Plant City. Their parents owned a berry farm, and the young trio helped plant and harvest the fruit every year.
In the early 1950s, Dennis left the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World and moved to Winter Garden. Sixty-some years later, she is still a Winter Garden resident and recently recognized her 52nd year as director of the West Orange Duplicate Bridge Club, which is held weekly in Winter Garden.
She also celebrated her 90th birthday twice, thanks to her many friends, fellow club members and family.
On her actual birthday, Jan. 31, 70 of her closest friends and family threw her a party at the Winter Garden Restaurant. The owners even announced Dennis’ birthday and age on the restaurant marquee out front; she admittedly loved the attention.
Last month, her card-playing friends surprised her with another party during a duplicate bridge game. All were treated to a red velvet cake with — what else? —strawberries.
Lifelong bridge fan
When Dennis first moved to Winter Garden, she was looking for something to do. She went to a local bridge game but was told she didn’t know how to play, so she went home and read an entire book by Charles Goren, a champion bridge player.
She taught herself how to play and became a life master — and started a duplicate bridge club at the West Orange Country Club. Her partner for many years was Jess Pounds; the two traveled all over the country to play the card game and took multiple cruises.
When the duplicate bridge club outgrew the space at the country club, Dennis moved it to Tanner Hall, where it has remained a weekly staple for decades. In 2013, she was recognized for her 50 years as director of the West Orange Duplicate Bridge Club. She still directs today and has between nine and 14 tables, depending on the snowbirds.
Dennis credits her sharp mind to her many years of playing the high-level game. And she has no plans to stop.