Business, Self-Help

In Loving Memory of Dan Denefe: Don’t Let The Bastards Grind You Down!

Don't let the bastards grind you down. General Stillwell

The other day a long-lost friend joined my Facebook page, and I’m happy she did. She reminded me again of what a great man Dan Denefe, former CEO of Carson Group truly was. Sadly, Dan passed away from a hard-fought battle with cancer a few years back. Dan’s favorite sign that hung in Carson’s offices for decades, is a good reminder to us all, that no matter what happens, don’t let the…… (see attached photo)

About Dan Denefe:

Daniel Joseph Denefe passed from this life on Monday August 13, 2012. He was at home and passed peacefully, with his wife and two sons at his bedside, in the midst of a hard-fought battle against lung cancer. He was blessed to have his incredible wit, the deep love of family & friends, and his unwavering faith to the very end. Dan was born in Ottumwa, Iowa on December 29, 1962 to Dr. James E. and Gretchen Y. Denefe. He lived there for most of his younger years and continued to visit family and friends in Ottumwa, every summer. He spent a lot of quality time at the Ottumwa Country Club, where he developed a lifelong love of golf. He had many fond memories of time on the golf course with his dad and his brothers, and he continued this tradition with his own sons, both in Ottumwa and at River Place Country Club in Austin. His loving and gracious mother was a great blessing to him throughout his life and was instrumental in giving him a life grounded in faith. Dan attended the University of Iowa and graduated with a B.B.A in Finance and a B.A. in Economics, in 1986. He really enjoyed the time that he & his wife spent in Iowa City – living, laughing, & learning, with good friends at their side. He was a steadfast Hawkeye fan. Daniel J. Denefe & Kathryn E. Hennen were married at St. Mary of the Visitation Catholic Church, in Ottumwa, on May 19, 1984. This was their home Parish, as both were born & raised in Ottumwa. They were very much in love – through thick & thin – throughout their 28 years together. They were blessed to be the very best of friends as well as husband & wife. They shared a deep and abiding faith that sustained them, in times of trouble, and increased their joy immeasurably. Their two greatest joys were their sons Ian & Noah. Dan was an active, involved, and loving dad. Every day, He made certain that Ian & Noah knew that he loved them and that he was so very proud of them. It was important for him to be a part of every aspect of his sons’ lives and he made time with them for baseball & band, football & soccer, waterskiing & golf, car shows & hands-on car maintenance, and school activities of any kind. Dan & his family moved to Austin, from Dallas, in 1995 and were members of St. Theresa Catholic Church from the very first day. Dan was a regular Usher/Greeter at the 9AM Mass on Sunday mornings, for many years, and was known for his quick smile & loving heart. He also served as Head Usher for the weekly school Mass. He taught many of the children of St. Theresa Catholic School how to serve God & their community, through this ministry. He was unfailingly patient and an excellent teacher. Dan was blessed to work for the Carson Group. since 1989 and was named CEO in 2010. He loved his job and his Carson Group family. He was an incredible example of hard work, determination, integrity, and loyalty, in the workplace and out, and will be greatly missed by all. He was so proud of what he and his business partner had built, over the years, and so very grateful for the privilege of that particular friendship. He really enjoyed building a second business, Classic Rides Limousines, with his wife and his sons, over the past 2 years. It was a wonderful family project that came with many opportunities for life lessons and the joy of tinkering with classic cars. Dan is survived by his wife, and their two sons Ian M. and Noah J. Denefe, both of Austin. Ian is a Senior at the University of Illinois and Noah is a Sophomore at St. Michael’s Catholic Academy. He is also survived by his mother and two older brothers, and their families: Terry (and Coleen) Denefe, of Ottumwa, their children Kate (and Jeff) Wenthe, of Marion, IA, & Erin (and Greg) Schaffer, of Ankeny, IA and their two daughters, Samantha and Molly; John (and Carol) Denefe of Rogers, AR and their sons Andrew & Matthew. Dan is also survived by numerous brothers/ sisters-in-law and their children, on his wife’s side of the family, as well as by 4 godsons and 1 goddaughter. He loved to be surrounded by family and was frequently the life of the party. Dan was a blessing to so many, but none were as blessed as his beloved wife and children to share his life. He gave and worked with a whole heart (as unto the Lord) and was always ready to respond with compassion and discernment to those in need. There is no replacing him and we will all be walking around with a hole in our hearts until we meet him again in heaven. Dan fought his illness valiantly and without complaining. By his example, he showed that life was worth passionately pursuing and worth living.

2 of my favorite Dan Denefe quotes:

1. “There are 2 ways to have more money. You can either cut back on expenses, or you can make more money, and option #2 is definitely the better option.” Dan Denefe

2. “With enough time and money, just about any problem can be solved.” Dan Denefe

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