September 25, 2021

A Birthday Surprise for Dennis Shaw

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(Franklin, GA) — A handful of local business owners, friends, and Heard County law enforcement officials came together on the evening of May 11 to offer a special 66th drive-by birthday celebration for local icon Mr. Dennis Shaw.

Dennis is well-known by citizens throughout Heard County and especially in Downtown Franklin where he often walks around daily to visit the various businesses.

With COVID-19 restrictions and some recent health issues limiting Dennis’s ability to make his normal rounds, Kerry and Kathy Griffin (the owners of the Franklin Pharmacy) decided to bring the surprise party and celebration to Dennis’s Newnan Street home.

“We just wanted to do something special for Dennis because we have known him forever — he comes to our store, he’s worked for us for years, and he always visits,” said Kathy Griffin. “We just enjoy and love him and we know he’s been shut in for while now — so we were just really hoping and praying we could do something to make his birthday a little more special for him this year.”

The long caravan of vehicles flanked by the Franklin Police Department and Heard County Sheriff’s Office arrived at Dennis’s house unannounced with gift, a Star Wars themed caked, gifts, signs, and balloons.

Dennis is a big Star Wars fan and the special birthday cake was decorated with a Darth Vader mask and the phrase “Execute Order 66” to honor Dennis’s most favorite day of the year.

The entire group attending the even also sang Happy Birthday to Dennis from the street.

Dennis first moved to Heard County from Missouri in the early 1970’s and is well-know for his long-time participation in Special Olympics. Dennis has earned 16 gold medals,10 silver medals, and countless other awards during his 20 years as an adult competitor. He is best known for his bowling accolades and still competes at the state bowling meet in Warner Robins, GA each year.

Special Olympics coordinator Wylene Spearman first introduced Dennis to Special Olympics when she coaxed him into dressing up as Mr. Peanut for the younger kids. He has also dressed as McGruff the Crime Dog.

Outside of Special Olympics, Dennis is also recognized as Heard County’s long-time news reporter which began when he distributed the “Grit” newspaper around Franklin from 1974-1986. Dennis still spreads the news by word-of-mouth and many local business owners say the Dennis’s news is always very dependable and accurate.

Dennis has attended the Franklin Church of God since 1980. His mom, the late Mrs. Doris Shaw was a beloved teacher in the Heard County School System for over 30 years and his late father Henry Shaw was a well-known locksmith, dairy farmer, and builder among several other trades he worked in as well.

Dennis gave a very simple but heartfelt speech following his birthday surprise simply saying “Thank y’all” to all those who stopped by.


  1. Linda Hendrix Cooke says

    That’s my cousin Dennis Shaw . he us a caring person and loved by all. Love u Dennis. Cuz Linda

    • Linda Hendrix Cooke says

      Dennis never meets a stranger. He has a sister Libby Cummings and a brother that lives in SC. Tony Shaw. Dennis has cousins that love him and his sister Libby loves him too. I know he loves walking to town and see all his friends and loves his church and preacher. Dennis you stay save . love your cousin Linda

  2. Stacie Denham says

    I have known Dennis forever also. I grew up in Heard County. My first job was at Goolsby Foods. Happy Birthday Dennis! My Birthday is in May also. May the 4th. International Star Wars Day. “May the fourth be with you.” ~Stacie (Toney) Denham

  3. Libby Shaw Cummings says

    Yes, we moved around a lot growing up; however, we did leave Missouri and ended up in Franklin in 1972. My mother was originally from Roanoke, AL and most of her family was in this area. Nevertheless, I firmly believe my family remained in Franklin because this town was always so good to Dennis. My heartfelt thanks– as well as the thanks of all his family– to everyone involved in making my “brother dear’s” birthday so very special this year (the current pandemic certainly caused it to be an entirely different situation).

  4. Libby Shaw Cummings says

    Yes, we moved around a lot growing up and landed in Franklin- from Missouri- in 1972. Our mother was originally from Roanoke AL and most of her family was located in this area. Nevertheless, I firmly believe my family remained here because everyone in Franklin was so good to my “brother dear”, Dennis. My heartfelt thanks- and the thanks of his entire family- to everyone involved in making his birthday so very special during this most unusual year. P.s. Dennis IS all things Star Wars!!! 🤗

  5. Brad Morman says

    Happy Birthday Dennis, I hope you have a wonderful day.

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