April 2, 1949 – Dec. 21, 2020
Tommy Royce Denson, age 71, of Dyer, Tennessee, passed away from this life on Dec. 21, at Jackson Madison County General Hospital.
Graveside services for Tommy were conducted on Wednesday, Dec. 23, at 11 a.m., at Oakwood Cemetery with John Coleman officiating. Arrangements by the Dyer chapel of Karnes and Son Funeral Home.
SFC(R) Denson was born in Selmer on April 2, 1949, to Eston Theodore Denson and Mamie Louella Rowsey Smith Denson. He was the second of their children.
SFC(R) Denson lived his entire pre-military days in Hardin County and attended Hardin County School from 1st-12th grades. After graduation he attended Jackson State Community College in Jackson and played on their very first baseball team.
Finding that college life was not all it was hyped up to be led to his being drafted into the military on 28 August 1969. After attending basic combat training at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, and advanced infantry training at Ft. Polk, Lousiana, he attended basic airborne training at Ft. Benning, Georgia, having never even ridden on a plane and now was learning to jump from them. After graduation from “jump school,” SGT(R) Denson was assigned to Headquarters Company 2nd Battalion 508th Airborne Infantry at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. While at Bragg, he assisted in the training of ROTC “cadidiots,” as the 82nd called them. Upon completion of his active-duty service, Tommy returned to Tennessee to complete his education as the Army had taught him much more than military learning.
Tommy then re-enrolled at JSCC and completed his final courses required for graduation. He then enrolled at Memphis State University and completed the requirements for a B.S. and obtained his teaching certificate. Tommy taught at DeSoto Schools in Helena, Arkansas, and coached golf and tennis while there. While teaching in Arkansas, Tommy re-joined the military by enlisting in the Arkansas Army National Guard. Later, he moved to Mississippi and taught at Magnolia Heights Academy where he coached basketball, baseball and football. In his spare time, he was designated as the bus driver for one of the routes for the school. Finding his way back to Tennessee following his father’s having suffered a medical condition, Tommy taught and coached at Pickwick Southside School. At this time, he also enlisted in the Tennessee National Guard. Teaching and coaching assignments soon followed in Camden, Dyer County, and finally in Gibson County.
While teaching and coaching in Gibson County the tragic 9-11 attacks took place and Tommy felt a stronger calling to serve his country one again. Volunteering to be transferred from his present unit in Trenton, Tennessee to one deploying from Jackson, Tennessee, Tommy soon found himself back at Ft. Bragg training for the deployment to Iraq with the 194th Engineer Brigade. Just four months after returning from this deployment, Tommy again volunteered for a “secret squirrel” type mission to Iraq. After his second time into the Middle East, Tommy became part of the Tennessee Guard that trained units prior to their deploying to their “Big Army” training spots.
Finally, 2009 rolled around and Tommy was semi-forced into retirement at age 60; he would have served until his death if afforded the opportunity. The military found him a place to be happy by hiring him as site administer of their Distant Learning Center in the Jackson, Tennessee Armory.
Tommy was happily married to Sherry Stewart Hudson Denson since their union on December 20th of 1986. He enjoyed having Brandon James Hudson as his son for all those years and B.J.’s wife Julia later in life. From a previous marriage, Tommy had two daughters, Kristi Renee Denson Russo Irizarry and Kelli Ann Mealer. All three were the apples of his eyes. Tommy also has three beautiful and smart grandchildren, Jamison Mealer (Kelli and Chris), Cyrus and Ethan Russo (Kristi).
A full and wonderful life was lived and enjoyed by SFC(R) Tommy R. Denson whether he was on the golf course with his good friend Joel, riding his Harley, walking the “babies,” just lounging around with his dedicated and loving wife Sherry or taking her on her shopping trips. Waco, Texas was his favorite one.
Karnes & Son Funeral Home is honored to serve the family of Tommy Royce Denson.