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Historical Society president takes advisory role

by Lisa Gavon
Douglas County Historical Society

Dennis Little has woven his deep love of Carson Valley history, extensive business acumen, and heartfelt dedication into an action-filled path. His leadership has carried the Douglas County Historical Society through tough times with positivity and grace.

Little started out in 1991 as part of the volunteer crew of construction workers who were renovating the former Douglas High School building into the Carson Valley Museum & Cultural Center. He has been active in fundraising and special events over the last 24 years, and was elected to the DCHS Board of Trustees in 2014. He has just finished his second two-year term as President.

“To hold the office of President for the Douglas County Historical Society is a full-time job,” said Trustee Marlena Hellwinkel. “And who better than Dennis Little to have filled this position. His knowledge of running a business, his tenacity to see a project completed, his ability to work with the public, DCHS staff, trustees, and his skill in fulfilling grant requests has been amazing. His smile and humor are a big part of ‘pulling it off.’ The Historical Society wouldn’t be what it is today, had it not been for Dennis Little. I give him my personal thanks.” Hellwinkel said.

Coming from one of the founding families of Banning, Calif., he has always had a passion for honoring what has come before. He is a lifelong supporter of historical societies. He graduated from the University of Redlands with a degree in business administration and a minor in geology. He chose the Carson Valley as his home base in 1978.

After graduation, when he was working in the mining industry, he found he really enjoyed exploring the backroads and old remnants of towns. This is what sparked his passion for the history of the buildings related to the mining industry.

He works many more hours than a full-time job, pouring his heart and soul into every project.

“I have never seen a more devoted person to any organization than Dennis has been and still is.” said Dale Bohlman. He is very involved in mentoring the Young Chautauqua program, and has been responsible for setting up the more recent meetings online.

Now in its 16th year, Dennis is also responsible for launching the Annual Gingerbread House Decorating Contest. He has a natural talent in this area, and every year he submits another of his own remarkable creations.

The biggest undertaking at the museum since its inception is the Edwin L. Wiegand Ranching and Agricultural Heritage Exhibit. Dennis has been pivotal, taking the reins and working tirelessly with the trustees to see that this tremendous project was seen through to completion. It has not been an easy task, but like everything else, Dennis stood fast and refused to let anything block his way.

“I really admire our President for all he does for our museums and the historical society.” says former past president Patty Maebe, “Dennis is very enthusiastic and gracious in helping with daily museum matters. Running two museums is quite challenging but he has the good fortune of being a great problem solver, working well with committee chairs to keep our museums running smoothly.”

Being a Francophone, there is no mistaking that Dennis Robert Little has that certain “savoir faire.” He says the fun part of being the DCHS president has been being on the frontlines of the wonderful programs and exhibits created by the Historical Society. Little is always “in costume,” adding his own special flair to any event. He is pleased with the by-law changes which allow him to stay on, insuring the continuity of programs and the internal operation of the organization. As immediate past president he will act as an advisor, assisting the society’s board of trustees with his expertise.

Used with permission of the Douglas County Historical Society.