John David Denson

August 21, 1957November 17, 2013
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Deacon John David Denson, 56, of Houston passed peacefully away surrounded by family and friends on Sunday, November 17, 2013. He was born August 21, 1957 at Wheelus Force Base in Tripoli, Libya to James O. Denson and Elena Caldaia.

Following his father’s retirement from the USAF, the family settled in Texarkana, Texas. He graduated co-valedictorian from Liberty-Eylau High School in 1975. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Plan II with high honors from the University of Texas at Austin in 1979; and later earned joint degrees from the LBJ school, a Master’s Degree in Public Affairs, and from The University of Texas Law school, a Doctorate of Jurisprudence in 1983 with high honors. His time at UT made him a lifelong Longhorn football fan (Hook ‘em Horns!). John met the love of his life, Margaret Poorman, while attending UT, and they married on their undergraduate graduation day in 1979. Together John and Margaret earned Master’s Degrees in Pastoral Studies at the University of St. Thomas’ St. Mary’s Seminary in 2010.

Having grown up in an Air Force family, he developed a love of international business, travel, and living abroad. His travels took him to over sixty countries and six continents. He began his legal career at Baker and Botts in Houston as an attorney in the international section. Continuing his legal career, John practiced internationally in Singapore and France, which enabled his family to share in his enthusiasm for living and traveling internationally before settling in Houston.

John joined Core Laboratories in 1992 and in 1994 was promoted to the position of Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary. During his tenure with the company, he oversaw taking the company public in 1994, and its listing on the NYSE in 1998. He also handled a series of strategic acquisitions that saw the company grow significantly and which set the base for its business today. As much as he enjoyed the legal issues he managed, he really enjoyed the personal interaction with the company’s worldwide employees and he helped set the high professional standards that they follow to this day.

In addition to John’s love of the law, service to others was always his passion. He served his community as a volunteer and on the board of directors for several charitable organizations. Additionally, he helped organize a Knights of Columbus chapter at his local church, Our Lady of Walsingham, and was a fourth degree Knight like his father. John was always eager to help in any way that he could, giving guidance spiritually, legally, financially, and professionally. In 2008, John retired early and opened a private practice, Denson and Tang Law Firm, in order to continue practicing law while allowing him time to follow his calling to serve the Catholic Church. John was ordained as a Catholic Deacon in 2011. That same year, he and Margaret founded the Denson Family Foundation for philanthropic purposes. He was particularly interested in helping students like himself who are the first in their families to attend college and therefore, he and Margaret established the Denson Endowed Scholarship for First-Generation Students at the University of Texas at Austin, a school that changed the course of his life and he loved deeply.

John was preceded in death by his father, James O. Denson; his father-in-law, Frank Poorman; and his sister-in-law, Juliana P. Minor.

He is survived by his loving wife of 34 years, Margaret, and their daughter Juliana Rubenson, and her husband, Brad. He is also survived by his mother, Elena C. Denson; two sisters, Helen (Clay) Greenwood of Texarkana, and Rosey (Edward) Byrd of Lewisville, Arkansas; mother-in-law, Margaret W. Poorman; brothers-in-law, Kevin (Jeanne) Poorman of Chicago, Illinois, and Thomas Minor of St. Louis, Missouri; sisters-in-law Janice Poorman and Catherine (Michel) Beck of Houston; and a host of nieces and nephews.

A Rosary will be held at 6 p.m. on Friday, November 22, 2013, at Our Lady of Walsingham Catholic Church, 7809 Shadyvilla Lane, Houston, TX 77055. A Requiem Mass will be held Saturday, November 23, 2013 10:00 a.m. also at Our Lady of Walsingham, with a reception to follow in St. Jude Hall.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Our Lady of Walsingham Catholic Church, the University of Texas, or St. Mary's Seminary. Donations made in his memory to The University of Texas may be sent toThe University of Texas, P.O. Box 7458, A3000, Austin, Texas 78713. Please note on the check memo line or on an attached sheet of paper: For the John Denson Scholarship for First Generation Students.

Eternal rest give unto Deacon Denson, O Lord; and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.


  • Evening Prayer and Rosary Friday, November 22, 2013
  • Requiem Mass Saturday, November 23, 2013

John David Denson

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Anne Nappa

December 18, 2013

Margaret and Juliana and extended family-I was sorry to hear through the LBJ School that John is no longer with us. John lived in Jester when I was an undergraduate, and I met Margaret when he was in graduate school in Austin. It sounds as though he has shared a wonderful life with his family.
I will pray for blessings and comfort for his family thinking of him safely in heaven. Anne Nappa, Austin, TX

Isabel Nart

November 25, 2013

I met John in the 1990s while setting up an LBJ School Alumni Association chapter in Houston. John's knowledge of the law and non-profits was instrumental in establishing the current organization. My condolences to his family. He was a great man & will be missed.

Margaret Pichon

November 24, 2013

We are so deeply sadden by the loss of Deacon John Denson. He was an example to so many with his kind caring spirit. He touched so many lives and did so much for us all at Our Lady of Walsingham. We are all blessed that he was a part of our lives. Our condolences to Margaret, Julianna, Elena and all the family.

November 24, 2013

Doug and Anna Camponovo

November 24, 2013

Our hearts were broken when we learned of John(ny)'s untimely death. He and his parents and sisters became our neighbors upon his father's military retirement, and we have many wonderful memories of those times in the old neighborhood. John was a great kid, and he grew to be a great man. Our heartfelt sympathy and prayers are with you, Margaret and Juliana, and with you, Elena, Rosie and Helen. Your lives have enriched ours immeasurably.

November 23, 2013

Matthew and I were so sorry to hear of your loss. We always enjoyed having Deacon John at the 4:30 service. His wonderful smile and deeply felt commitment to Our Lady Of Walsingham was a joy to watch. We were blessed by knowing him.Cindy and Matthew Dionne

Christine Barr

November 23, 2013

Deacon Denson was a blessing to me and my boys - he will be sorely missed. May light perpetual shine upon him.

November 22, 2013

My sincere condolences.

Ms. Rosey Hicks

Wade Blakey

November 22, 2013

I am greatly saddened by the passing of John and will keep you in my prayers. John had a unique impact on my late wife Roseann as the two of them conversed on various topics always leaving an enlightened and inspired impression on Roseann. John gave so much to others and his memory will be lasting. God bless you and may you find peace going forward.

John & Theresa Baker

November 21, 2013

We are saddened to lose our friend, and lament that he won't get to see these three Godchildren grow up. We know though that he is in a good place, with no pain and no worldly worries. We send our love and prayers to Margaret and the rest of his family, and wish them strength dealing with the loss of their wonderful loved one.