His name is hard to miss at the University of Texas, and if you were lucky enough to meet and chat with Frank Denius, it was something you will never forget.
Few people have ever cared more for or contributed more to the University of Texas, and its football program, than Denius. The same goes for his country.
At approximately 6 a.m. Sunday, Denius died at 93 years old. Per Austin American Statesman sports columnist Kirk Bohls, services are set for Tuesday.
This service will truly be a celebration of a life lived and a country served.
Denius was one of the most beloved, not to mention influential and powerful, boosters at Texas. Ponder for a few moments the gravity of that statement and the type of men who are considered major UT power brokers.
I was fortunate enough to talk to Denius a few times; the one I remember the most was his recounting of his time served in World War II.
Denius was a punter at the Citadel before he went to England as part of the eventual Allied invasion of occupied Europe. He was 19 years old when he landed on Omaha Beach on June 7, 1944, during the D-Day invasion of Normandy, France.
“You hit the ground running and you kept your eyes open and you prayed, but not necessarily in that order,” Denius told me in an interview in 1999. Denius was a field observer. “We were too scared to cry.”
He eventually landed in the spot in Belgium and was caught up in The Battle of the Bulge. He earned multiple citations, including the silver star.
After the war, Denius, who was raised in Athens, located to Austin where he earned two degrees from UT in law and business. He practiced law in Austin for more than 50 years, and became a major influence at UT.
He also eventually returned to France, and many of the places he and his friends help to liberate from the Germans.
“There are parts there I still know like the back of my hand,” Denius told me. “Going to the (American) cemetery in Normandy, or looking at those beaches, is very emotional.”
Around Austin, he was synonymous with the UT football program. The Longhorns practice facility is named after Denius. He befriended former head coach Mack Brown, routinely attended all of UT’s games and sat in the stands rather than a suite. He was also a fixture at UT practices.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Denius told me of his support. “I guess you can say I do it for my love of the university. I don’t look at it as just supporting the football team.”
His was a life full of giving, both to Texas and his country.