Johnny Penson

Johnny Penson passed away on October 20 at the age of 44.  Johnny was born on March 27, 1971 in Urbana, Illinois.  His parents, John and Donna Penson, moved the family to College Station in 1975.

Johnny leaves behind his parents, brother Matthew Penson, sister Laura Patterson, brother-in-law Tom Patterson, nephew Kyle Patterson, and niece Emme Patterson.

Johnny was diagnosed with a rare choriocarcinoma brain tumor just days after he quarterbacked his 8th grade football team. He underwent extensive radiation followed by two years of chemotherapy. He was given one year to live at that time.  Johnny became part of the Sunshine Kids program in Houston during this period. He had the opportunity to meet with President Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan at the White House. He also met then Vice President George Bush and Barbara Bush.

Johnny graduated from A&M Consolidated high school in the class of 1989.  He went on to major in early childhood development at Stephen F. Austin University, graduating in 1995.

Shortly after graduating from college, Johnny suffered a major stroke, which severely affected his short term memory, ending his dream of becoming a teacher. Johnny turned to volunteering as a helper in the preschool at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, where he became known to the children as “Mr. John”.

An extremely rare mesothelioma tumor in his abdominal cavity ultimately claimed his life.  His family considers the 31 years they had with Johnny after his brain tumor in 1984 a true blessing.  Three decades of visiting doctors and undergoing treatments were never accompanied by a complaint.

Johnny’s family is eternally grateful for his many friends from the 1989 A&M Consolidated high school class who have traveled near and far to visit with Johnny and let him know the impact he had on their lives.  Letters and cards sent by others told how he impacted the lives of many.  We are also grateful to Holy Cross Lutheran Church for the love and spiritual nourishment provided to Johnny and to Hospice Brazos Valley nurses Marty and Pam who provided compassionate care.

Johnny will be deeply missed by his family. Memories of our life with him the past 44 years will be with us forever. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Hospice Brazos Valley or to the Holy Cross Lutheran Church Pre-School in his name so “Mr. John” can continue to contribute to this program he loved so much.

A service celebrating Johnny’s life will be held at Holy Cross Lutheran Church at 1200 Foxfire Drive in College Station on Friday, October 23rd at 1pm.

For more information contact [wpseo_address show_state=”1″ show_country=”1″ show_phone=”1″ show_phone_2=”0″ show_fax=”1″ show_email=”1″]


  1. We loved Johnny and his wonderful spirit. Both of our children, Sarah and Lucas, attended Holy Cross Preschool. He was a great part of that program and will be greatly missed. God is so good and now has Johnny in his eternal care. Our prayers are with his family.
    Shannon and Landon Gregory

  2. Johnny was one of the best people I have met in my life. He was so humble and giving. I hope others touched by him would continue to give as he did. Contain a positive attitude regardless of you circumstances. His ability to be a regular guy when you were around him, no matter his struggle was a true strength. We will all miss you Johnny until we get up there to see you again. I bet he can throw a football over those mountains now 🙂
    Prayers for his family and all of us who lost a great friend.
    Love you

  3. I offer my deepest condolences to the family. I was in the same grade as Johnny and he remained a friend of our family always and his visits were always welcomed and enjoyed. My mother who was especially fond of his visits and my entire family mourn his loss and offer our prayers to his family in their time of grief. David Heyser

  4. Thank you John for being you. You have entered the pearly gates of heaven and I’m thankful to have known you. And to the family I’m sorry for your loss and may you find comfort and peace. God bless.

  5. So sorry for your loss. I really enjoyed getting to know Johnny in creative writing class in high school. His outlook on things was always so positive no matter how he felt, and he could always make me laugh. My little brother Alan also had a great things to say about him as they had know each other since junior high. We both remember that football game before his diagnosis. Prayers for you all as you go through this time. Those pre-school kids had a special person with them!

  6. Heaven has certainly gained an angel. He impacted so many over the years with his contagious smile and big heart. May God bless him as he has blessed so many.

  7. Donna, I’m so sorry for your loss. We have kept you and your precious family in our prayers and will continue to do. Proverbs 3:5-6. Love you

  8. “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” Gandhi

    Johnny, indeed, had an indomitable will. As an eighth grader he spun a lesson of resilience, attitude, courage and toughness that I admire to this day. His optimism burned bright and while it was for too short of time – it touched many, many lives. Shine on Johnny Penson.

  9. Heaven has certainly gained another Angel. We lift up our prayers for the Penson Family during this difficult time. God Bless you all!

  10. I am so saddened by the loss of one of my favorite patients! He always brought a smile to my face and put cheer in my heart!
    My love, prayers and hugs to Mr and Mrs Penson

  11. Johnny showed us how to live and love. He put others first, and gave us lessons in humanity every time we had an interaction with him. Johnny’s legacy is a powerful one. To honor Johnny’s memory, we can try to treat others as he did. It will be a much better world if we can do that.

    Donna and John raised Johnny well. They loved him, cherished him, and cared for him to the highest level possible. We were lucky to know Johnny Penson and lucky to know his whole family. We are proud of all the Pensons.

    With deepest sorrow,

    Frank and Kathy Clark

  12. Donna,
    We were so sad to learn of Johnny’s death. He was a brave young man, enduring all the medical treatments and, as you stated, I never heard him complain. We had many wonderful conversations during that time in his life. He had many astute questions about scripture during confirmation classes, proving he was mature far beyond his age.
    May God give you his peace as you learn to live without him.

  13. Dear John,
    I know that these condolences are meant for caring, loving people who offer their kind words to the grieving family that has just lost someone very dear to their hearts. John, I’m actually one of those grieving family members, your big brother Matt. I miss you so much, John! Words just can’t express how much I truly love you and how very proud I am to have a brother like you. I think about you every single day. When I see acts of kindness happen, I think of you. You lived your life the way I believe Jesus wants us to live, showing kindness, compassion, and love towards our fellow man. I will never grow tired of telling your story, John. I am a better person for having known you. I am also full of gratitude, grateful beyond compare that you are resting in the arms of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Now, and for all eternity. Don’t worry John. Mom, Dad, Laura, and I will be with you, and God almighty in Heaven forever and ever. Thank you for making this world a better place little brother!!! Thank you, God for John Penson V!!!

  14. Dear John,
    I am truly sad to hear of your passing. You will be greatly missed by our family (Christine McClain & Family). We love you then and we will continue to love you in our hearts here in Nacogdoches Texas. Continue to rest easy until we meet again. Love always and forever. Christine Carter McClain and Family.

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