Tribute to


Pete L. Pense, Head Coach

Thomas Jefferson Yellow Jackets 1957




James Leon (Pete) Pense, age 92, was born on 5, February 1922 in Chewey Oklahoma to Roy and Pansy Dawson Pense. Coach Pense passed away Thursday January 22, 2015 in Crocket, TX. 


He was an athlete pretty much before he started playing for his high school. He made the American Legion baseball team and the high school basketball coach looked him up and asked him to play baseball, football, basketball and track. He later lettered in all four sports. 


After high school he enrolled in Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. He played baseball as a freshman and then followed that with spring football. The Second World War temporarily interrupted his college athletics and he enlisted in the Army only to find out during the physical fitness exam that he had lung scars which would keep him out of battle. 


Returning to college a recruiter for the University of Arkansas persuaded him to transfer. While at the University of Arkansas he was voted all Southwest Conference. After graduating from the University of Arkansas in 1945, he was selected 79th overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Near the end of the season, a player from his own team collided with his shoulder and did so much damage that his doctors told him he must quit playing football or lose the use of his right arm. He contacted a coach he admired in Port Arthur and began a 37 year high school coaching career in which he won eight district championships, three regional championships, the state championship in 1957 and lost the state championship in the finals by one point in 1958. 


As a coach he said he always encouraged his players to do unimaginable things and he was thankful for the opportunities he enjoyed over his entire lifetime. He retired to Houston county lake in 1983 and lived the quiet life of a gardener, fisherman and investor. 


He is survived by his two sons: Richard Pense and wife Marlene of Katy, Peter Pense and wife Susan of Crockett; four grandchildren: David Pense and wife Michelle of League City, Stephen Pense and wife Stephanie of Anna, Aaron Pense of Katy, Heather Ann Valdez and husband Joseph of Spring; and six great grandchildren: John Mark Pense, Logan Pense, Riley Pense, Julian Pense, Aubrie Lynn Valdez, and Joseph Lewis Valdez.


Memorial Service for Mr. James Leon Pense will be held Saturday, January 31, 2015 at 11:00am at the First Presbyterian Church of Crockett with Chaplain Mike Eaves officiating.





        This article was published in the "County Life Magazine" for the Texas Counties of Anderson, Houston and Trinity.
Coach Pense was a resident of Houston County and his home was on the Houston County Lake close to Crockett, TX/






Two former basket ball players visited Coach Pense at his home last year.
Mike Eaves played under Coach Pense in 1962
David Nutt played under Coach Pense in 1961

Mike Eaves (TJ62); David Nutt (TJ61)
and Coach Pense
Coach Pense and Mrs. Pense Coach Pense, Wife & Son

From Brooks Porter:  Four of us from the 1957 and 1958 teams went up to see Coach Pense.  Photo below:

L-R: Gil Castro, Coach Pete Pense, Brooks Porter, Ronnie Stanley and Don Campbell. 

These four players plus Carroll Broussard and Walt Sharp were on the '57 team as juniors and on the '58 team as seniors.


The 1957 Team

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