Lennon family mother dies in Missouri at age of 85

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Posted June 23, 2005 by The Argonaut in News - Features
Isabelle Emily “Sis” Denning Lennon Miller — originally from Venice and the mother of The Lennon Sisters — died of congestive heart failure Sunday, May 1st, in Branson, Missouri at the age of 85.

A private tribute service will be held Sunday, June 26th, in Los Angeles. The tribute site needs to remain private because of the family’s history with stalkers, said Kathy Lennon, a spokeswoman for The Lennon Sisters.

“Sis” Lennon was born in Los Angeles July 25th, 1919, to Danforth and Ysabel Alvarez Denning and was a fourth-generation Californian from a Spanish land grant family.

After some years of traveling throughout California during the Great Depression, the family settled in Venice, where she attended Venice High School.

After graduating in 1938, she married classmate William “Billy” Herbert Lennon in 1939.

The couple first lived in a house on the Venice Canals before they purchased another home in Venice.

She and Billy Lennon, a milkman, were the parents of 12 children, including The Lennon Sisters, who appeared weekly on television with Lawrence Welk.

The Lennon Sisters were household names and called “America’s Sweethearts of Song.”

The family also includes the couple’s sons, who perform as the swing quartet The Lennon Brothers, two other sons and nephews who perform as the rock band Venice and grandsons and a son-in-law who perform as the rock band The Thundering Red Rockets.

The couple was married for 30 years, until Billy Lennon was killed in August 1969 by a fan who was stalking Lennon Sister Peggy Lennon.

Billy Lennon would often sing at St. Mark Catholic Church in Venice and St. Clements Catholic Church and St. Monica Catholic Church in Santa Monica.

His brother, Jimmy Lennon, was a popular announcer for boxing and wrestling matches in Los Angeles at Olympic Auditorium.

Kathy Lennon said there are now hundreds of Lennons who live in Venice, Santa Monica, and surrounding communities.

There are 11 surviving children with large families of their own and Billy Lennon had seven brothers and one sister who now also have large families.

“At the 100th birthday of Venice to be celebrated this year, there will be many who remember participating in the lives of the Lennons,” said Kathy Lennon.

Her mother encouraged her children when she opened her home to the neighborhood and everyone was always welcome, Kathy Lennon said.

In 1996, “Sis” Lennon moved to Branson to be with some of her children who had moved there to perform as professional entertainers.

In 1998, at age 79, “Sis” Lennon married her Venice High School sweetheart Joseph “Joe” Braxton Miller.

She is survived by her husband; five sons, six daughters, six stepsons, one stepdaughter, six sons-in-laws four daughters-in-law, 30 grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren, one great-great-granddaughter, 11 step-grandchildren, and three step-great-grandchildren.

Memorial contributions may be sent to the Community Hospice of America, 2756 Bee Creek Road, Suite G, Branson, MO 65616, or to the Mission Teaching Foundation, 12000 Mitchell Ave., Apt. 1, Los Angeles 90066.