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A Voice Silenced

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One of our colleagues here just received an e-mail from the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association that contains the sad news that Dennis Vercher, the longtime editor of the Dallas Voice, died yesterday from an HIV/AIDS-related illness. Vercher had been editor of the Voice, the self-described "community newspaper for gay & lesbian Dallas," for 20 years. He was 53. There is a piece of video concerning Vercher's death on the Voice's Web site, but the entirety of the press release from Eric Hegedus, the national president of NLGJA, and executive director Pamela Strother follows after the jump. --Robert Wilonsky

"Dear NLGJA Members,

With great sadness, we would like to inform NLGJA members that Dennis Vercher III, editor of the Dallas Voice and a former LGJA Dallas Chapter president, passed away Wednesday. Dennis was 53 and died from an HIV/AIDS-related illness.

Dennis, editor of the Voice since 1986, was NLGJA Dallas Chapter president from 1999-2002. He also served as a co-chair of LGJA's national convention in that city in 2001. Prior to joining the Voice, his work included positions as news director and public affairs director for radio stations in Beaumont, TX, as well as an adjunct instructor at Lamar University in Beaumont.

Dennis had a profound impact on the local LGBT landscape. 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; battles over nondiscrimination ordinances, HIV/AIDS treatment and sodomy laws; and growth in LGBT political strength. He was one of the most knowledgeable people about LGBT Dallas and was prominently featured in "Finding Our Voice," a locally-produced public television special about Dallas' LGBT communities.

Dennis was also highly-regarded by other journalists in the Dallas area. As Frank Trejo of the Dallas Morning News reflected this morning, "In the mid-1990s I covered LGBT-related news and had numerous occasions to communicate with Dennis. He was always willing to help me make contact with people in the community and always willing to share information. And, he knew exactly what made a good news story. He also was one of the nicest people I have ever met."

He was honored Sept. 15 for his career in journalism and contributions to the local LGBT communities by the Dallas Tavern Guild, a non-profit association responsible for producing the annual Alan Ross Texas Freedom and Pride Rally.

Dennis is survived by his life partner, Farron Campbell of Dallas; his father, Dennis Vercher II, of Orange, TX; his brother and sister-in-law, James and Janice Vercher of Lufkin, TX; and his brother and sister-in-law, Don and Donna Vercher of Orange.

Funeral services are pending.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Dennis' family, as well as his friends and colleagues in Dallas and throughout NLGJA."

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