Charles Dennis (“Denny”) Sansom, age 79, passed away January 8th, 2021 in Livingston, Texas after an unexpected and short battle with COVID-19 in which he gave it not one minute more of his vitality than it deserved.
Denny was born on January 4, 1942 in Houston. He was a talented athlete, excelling in both baseball and football until graduating from Jones High School. After high school, he joined the United States Navy and served as a Quartermaster on ships deployed from San Diego and Yokosuka, Japan. Returning to Houston, he trained quarter horses—wearing his Houston Pin Oak championship buckle from the early 1960s until the end of his life—and competed as a rodeo cowboy in bull riding and other events. In 1965, he married the love of his life, April Pfleger, also of Houston. They spent the first three years of their married life in the Rockies and desert southwest before returning to Houston so that their children would be born Texans. Denny pursued a career in the oilfield services industry, first in Utah and New Mexico, and then, after returning to Houston, continuing in a variety of positions at the Magcobar drilling fluids division of Dresser Industries. In the early days after returning to Houston, he did so while pursuing his college degree the hard way— through years of night classes at the University of Houston until he proudly collected his Bachelor of Science degree in geology in 1975, the first in his family to attend college.
From there, Denny’s career took off. For the next ten years, Denny remained in the services industry, spending five years with Magcobar in Aberdeen, Scotland, and then, after returning again to Texas, continuing until he rose to the position of Vice President of Hughes Tool’s drilling fluids division. In 1985, he was hired by Mobil and moved to Dallas. At Mobil, he held positions coordinating its drilling fluids requirements worldwide and directing areas of research and development. In the 1990s, he shifted to oil field operations management, first as the manager of Mobil operations in southern Nigeria and then as the joint venture operations manager for the new field operated by ExxonMobil in Chad—the position from which he retired in 2006.
In December 2007, Denny suffered a stroke that left him essentially speechless for the rest of his life, but he was still mostly mobile and lived out the remainder of his days on the two hundred acres that he had purchased before retirement. He continued to enjoy shooting, hunting, and spoiling the dogs and cats that populated the property.
Denny was always a man of diverse and intense enthusiasms and interests— from quarter horses and Chevrolet muscle cars in the sixties; to the “hi-fi” audio equipment he listened to on short winter days in Aberdeen; handloading and competitive benchrest shooting with many top finishes at the state, gulf coast regional, and national levels; countless white tail deer hunts; two African safaris; and many rounds of golf, a game in which he once held a single digit handicap. (Anyone who knows him really well also knows that he could also sing country music—in tune and complete with yodeling—and was a naturally talented sketch artist.)
He was all these things and a joker, husband of fifty-five years, father, grandfather, large presence, and lover of life, and we miss him terribly. To all who ever saw him as friend, leader, or colleague, or had the more difficult task of leading him; who hunted, fished, played golf, shot in a competition or otherwise shared the outdoors with him; who enjoyed good food, drink, a joke, or music with him in Texas or Scotland or West Africa, or anywhere else he lighted as he circumnavigated the globe; or who loved him as we do, he will be dearly missed.
Denny is survived by his wife of fifty-five years, April Pfleger Sansom; son, Kenneth Sansom (Natalie); daughter, Heather Sansom Day (Brian); and grandchildren, Jake, Jack, Maxie, Jeanne and Katie. He is preceded in death by his parents, Owen Cecil and Blanche Davis Sansom; and his brother, Jack Herald Sansom.
Thank you to his caregivers: Wendy, Marcella, Julia, Shelby, Jarrod, and anyone else who took care of him at Chi St. Luke’s Hospital in Livingston. Our hearts swell knowing he was surrounded by a wonderful team when we were unable to be with him due to COVID.
A Celebration of Denny’s Life will be held Saturday, May 7, 2022 in Houston. For more information, please contact: dennycelebration[@]gmail.com.
Donations may be made to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation.
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