Leon Anthony Denena, Sr.
On Friday, March 30, 2018 Leon Anthony Denena, Sr. fell into a peaceful sleep to begin a journey with the angels. Although his body will return to dust, his soul will live forever with God. Leon began his formative years in Marlin, Texas on March 12, 1938. He was a proud first generation Italian- American born into the Denena and Falsone families of the Brazos Valley. Leon spent his life among the large old world Italian families from Poggioreale and Corleone, Sicily. He cherished life. His life values of faith, family, and food were molded from his Italian heritage and experiences from his extended family around the dinner table on Sunday over pasta, fighting over cream puffs, or weekend trips to Highbank, Texas to play on the steps of his grandparents’ home or in their general store. He cherished his family, adored his parents and molded his life by emulating the life led by his father. He formed valued Italian pillars of faith, family, food, respect, and loyalty from his mother and father, a life-long farmer, rancher and church leader. He wanted nothing more than to follow in the footsteps of his father and live a full active life. He achieved amazing accomplishments through drive, determination, and fortitude with unparalleled integrity and honesty. He was active in sports throughout his life. He began with football at Hearne High School. While living on the family farm in Mumford, Leon would walk home from football practice in Hearne often catching a ride from a good neighbor somewhere along Highway 50. He earned all-state honors in football. To commemorate this accomplishment, the merchants in Hearne presented Leon with a gold football pendant. He graduated from Hearne High School earning a four-year athletic scholarship to play football at the University of Houston and was an American Legion Award recipient. Leon always had the ability to develop friendships throughout his life and through his many adventures. Leon honed his leadership abilities in high school as leader of the Hearne Future Farmers of America and other organizations. He carried those traits to college as president of his fraternity, Kappa Alpha, and as Interfraternal Greek Counsel President. He loved music and developed his church choir and song-leading roots by singing in the annual University of Houston Frontier Fiesta stage show events. Upon graduating from the University of Houston with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree, he was set to begin a career in Houston with an oil company, but could not resist the desire to farm and ranch. He began farming and ranching with his father in the late 1950’s in the Brazos Valley. Post college, Leon developed his love for the sport of golf. Having never played until after college, Leon soon developed into a low two-digit handicap player on the golf links. He never met a golf course he did not enjoy. Just before New Year’s Eve of 1963, Leon was driving through Hearne and noticed a young lady recently graduated from Baylor University. With a phone call, Leon had his first date with Cynthia Ann Porter on New Year’s Eve. Two years later, they were married on January 24, 1965. They celebrated 53 years of marriage two months before his passing. Nothing was more satisfying to him than having his wife and family around him. Leon was active in leadership roles in the various communities where he spent his adult life. He coached Little League baseball in Bremond, Texas and, later, his son’s Little League baseball team in Bryan. He was always interested in education and farming/ranching initiatives. He served on the Mumford Independent School District Board; he with his wife established a scholarship fund for graduating Bryan High School students to attend technical college. He was active in the Farmer’s Union and, at one point, testified before the Senate Agricultural Committee during his early years of farming. As he established his farming and ranching operations, it was not uncommon for Leon to spend an afternoon playing golf, cards (yes, he could count cards), or dominoes. He and his family were long-time members of Briarcrest Country Club, and he served on the Briarcrest Country Club Board of Directors and Greens and Grounds Committee. His second home truly was Briarcrest Country Club. He was a man of faith. He and his family value the Italian heritage of St. Anthony’s Catholic Church. He served on Pastoral Counsel and more importantly, for over 40 years, Leon was a member of the church choir and/or song leader until the summer of 2017. As a father and grandfather, he always relished knowing and hearing about the activities and athletic adventures involving his children and grandchildren. He attended softball, football, baseball, golf, dance, and drill team events for many years. It was not uncommon to see him on a weekend traveling across all parts of the state to watch baseball and softball games. His joy of travel did not end with attending sporting events. He and his family traveled across the United States to discover our wonderful country. He also visited many ports of call aboard cruise ships to Alaska, the islands of the Caribbean, Italy, Croatia, and the Greek Islands. He traveled to Scotland (the home of golf) and Ireland, but his most treasured trip was a two-week trip to Sicily and Italy to visit Poggioreale and the Almafi Coast. As a focal point of this trip, he, his wife, and 19 relatives spent one week soaking up the Sicilian country-side and family background in Poggioreale. Leon was preceded in death by his parents, Anthony and Rose Falsone Denena; brother, James Robert Denena; father inlaw. Felton Porter; motherin- law, Mary Mildred Porter; and numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins from the Falsone and Denena families. Leon’s legacy will be carried on by his wife of 53 years, Cynthia; and their three children, Ana Maria Denena of Houston, Leon (Lee) Anthony Denena, Jr. and his wife, Katherine of Bryan, Texas, and Tina Louise Denena of Woodland, California. Also honoring his memory are his brother, Joseph Falsone Denena and wife, Mary of Houston, Texas; sister, Margaret Mary Denena Knowles and her husband, Cliff of Austin, Texas; one niece, Catherine Denena Sallman and her husband, Scott; two nephews, Anthony Max Denena and his wife, Andrea, and James Robert Denena and his wife, Melissa, all of Houston, Texas; and two aunts, Camella Falsone Scamardo of Bryan, Texas, and Angeline Falsone Cangelosi, of Sugar Land, Texas. Leon was blessed to have loving grandchildren, Leon Anthony Denena, III, Victoria Rose Denena, and Benjamin Andrew Denena all of Bryan, Texas; and two adopted grandchildren, Porter Seguin and Cooper Seguin of Woodland, California. Visitation was scheduled from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Wednesday, April 4, 2018 with a 7:00 p.m. rosary service at Memorial Funeral Chapel in Bryan. The Mass of Christian Burial is scheduled to be held at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, April 5, 2018 at St. Anthony Catholic Church. Entombment will follow at 2:00 p.m. at St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery in Hearne, Texas. Memorials may be made to St. Anthony’s Catholic Church.