Dr. Joy Theresa DeSensi
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Dr. Joy Theresa DeSensi

Knoxville, TN

Dr. Joy Theresa DeSensi, age 71, of Knoxville, TN, and formerly of Pittsburgh, PA, died Saturday, April 1, 2017. She was member of St. John XXIII University Parish. At the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Dr. DeSensi was Department Head, Exercise, Sport, & Leisure Studies, Teaching Professor, and Associate Dean, Graduate School. Dr. DeSensi co-authored the book Ethics and Morality in Sport Management, and has served as President of the International Association for the Philosophy of Sport, the National Association for Kinesiology and Physical Education in Higher Education, the Southern Academy of Women in Physical Activity, Sport and Health, and is a founding member of the North American Society for Sport Management. Dr. DeSensi earned a number of awards throughout her academic career, including: Scholar Lifetime Achievement Award, Southern Sport Management Association, 2015; Fellow, National Association for Kinesiology in Higher Education, 2015; Inaugural Diversity Award-North American Society for Sport Management, 2013; Rachel Bryant Lecture Award-National Association for Girls & Women in Sport, 2013; Distinguished Scholar Award, National Association for Kinesiology in Higher Education, 2010; Chancellor's Professor-University of Tennessee, Knoxville, 2008; Angie Warren Perkins Award for Excellence in Governance & Administration, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, 2007; President's Award, National Association for Girls & Women in Sport, 2005.

Preceded in death by her parents, Vincent and Columbia DeSensi. She is survived by her cousins, Richard, Joseph, V, John, Nina , Jan, Sue, and best friend Becky.

A Funeral Mass is scheduled for 6:00 p.m., Wednesday, April 5, 2017, St. John XXIII University Parish, 1710 Melrose Place, Knoxville TN 37916 with Fr. Don Andrie officiating. The family will receive friends from 4:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m., Tuesday, April 4, Rose Mortuary Mann Heritage Chapel, with Rosary being said at 4:30 p.m. Interment will take place Saturday, April 8, 2017, Calvary Cemetery, Pittsburgh, PA. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions be made to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105, or to the Center for Sport, Peace, and Society in the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences, The University of Tennessee, Claxton Education Building, 1122 Volunteer Avenue, Knoxville, TN 37916. On-line condolences may be extended at www.rosemortuary.com. Arrangements by Rose Mortuary Mann Heritage Chapel.

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Published in Knoxville News Sentinel from Apr. 4 to Apr. 5, 2017.
04:00 - 08:00 PM
04:30 PM
Rose Mortuary Mann Heritage Chapel
Calvary Cemetery
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15 entries
March 29, 2020
I think about Joy EVERY SINGLE DAY, & pray for the repose of her soul. I know you are looking down on us, but know we're also looking up.
Wanda Costen
February 3, 2019
I just learned about Dr. DeSensi's passing. She will be greatly missed. She hired me at UT and enjoyed being around her and learning what she could teach me. Sorry for the family loss. Jane Johns
November 16, 2018
Joy DeSensi was my coach at Pensacola Junior College back in 1973 (I think it was her first year coaching) She made such a positive impression on me. I left PJC and attended the University of Alabama but never forgot the philosophies she intrigued me with during my time at PJC. Maybe five years ago through FaceBook I reconnected with her and to my surprise, she said she remembered me. You see, when our volleyball team finished for the season we got her a leather volleyball and had the words she so often said to us when we were playing both basketball and volleyball----"It is not the intent the rules be interpreted literally....." My condolences to her family. She was a wonderful woman who made a positive impact as a leader, mentor and friend.
Sharon Painter
September 13, 2017
Dr. DeSensi ... You are gone! I just found out. I am devastated. You were an angel in my life! I cherished your kind and loving guidance always! There is a whole in my heart. Rest in peace my dear friend. You taught me so much more than sport. I'm so sorry I didn't know.
Brenda Day
April 24, 2017
Joy was such a great friend and colleague. It makes me very sad to know that she has passed. I was privileged to be in Joy's circle of friends for 30 years. She had many friends and colleagues like me who knew her as "one of us," beyond her many reknowned achievements. Her enthusiasm for accomplishment with accuracy and professionalism is what brought her so many honors, as a pioneer and an exemplary in sport management, as a doctoral mentor for gradaute students, and as an effective college administrator. Over the past four years, we kept in touch via email nearly every day, and she always had the faith that God was with her. She was so brave in her illness. Now she resides in Heaven, her reward for being a faithful follower as a Christian. She was a significant force in all of her professional endeavors, and he legacy will continue among those at UTK and in NASSM.
Marlene Mawson
April 5, 2017
My thoughts and prayers are with you. Dr. Desensi, was such a thoughtful person. She had a great smile and laugh and always cared about the people around her. I am honored to have known her.
Denise Sears
April 5, 2017
Such sadness to lose such a dear friend. I had the
privilege of serving as Joy's dissertation advisor at
the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
That started years of friendship memories which
I cherish. She always decorated about 5 Christmas trees. Our annual Christmas gift was to exchange an ornament. She fought the cancer for many years and was such an optimistic fighter and person. It is fitting that she finally has some peace.

Rosemary McGee
Greensboro, NC
April 5, 2017
Joy hired me at UTK. She was my dept head, my mentor, and my friend. She had a beautiful soul, so kind, caring, and wise. I am so glad I had the chance to work with her through the cultural studies program, which she has helped me keep alive all these years. We will all miss her so, and she would want us to carry on the work. So we will!
Much love, Barb Thayer-Bacon
Barbara Thayer-Bacon
April 4, 2017
To: Dr. D's Family, My deepest condolences to you. She was a great Lady, professor and most of all a great friend. Dr. D.(I used to call her that all the time) was a former professor of mine at UT. Every since, I left UT 17 years ago, Dr. D and I kept in touch over the years. She will be missed by all who knew her. I am very happy that I spent time with you last year while I was in Knoxville.
Dr. D. may you rest in peace.
Becky Jackson
April 4, 2017
I believe that certain people are brought into your life for a reason and a dear friend and neighbor of 27 years fell into that category. Dr. Joy DeSensi showed such kindness in so many ways and was always so giving, caring and gracious. Praying for peace and comfort for her family and all those that loved and cared for her during these difficult times. Rest in Peace, my dear friend, for we are all better for having you in our lives.... May God Bless!
Gary Curnutt
April 4, 2017
Words cannot express the depth of my sadness at learning of Joy's passing on Saturday. She was my dear friend, confidant, mentor, and Darren's "Aunt Joy". She immensely cherished that latter role.

No one devoted more time, and energy, nor was more committed to students, especially graduate students, than Joy. She was an incredible role model for faculty, and I will live the rest of my days measuring my impact by "What Would Joy Do?"

Rest in peace my dear friend. I will miss you every single day.
Wanda Costen
April 4, 2017
Dr. DeSensi was my major professor, dissertation chair, mentor, and friend. I'm so grateful I had the opportunity to spend time with her not even two weeks ago. I always admired how "on top of things" she was, in spite of always having so much on her plate!! No matter how much she had going on, she ALWAYS had time for students whenever we would email her (always responded in less than 12 hours!), call or just stop by. I try to emulate that in my own career as a professor. I feel so honored to have had her as part of my UTK experience and will miss my friend and mentor. I love you, Joy, and know you are resting peacefully now. My prayers to all her family and friends.
Dawn N.
April 4, 2017
I had the pleasure of working with Joy for several years while she was AD in the Graduate School. I could never get over how un-perturbable she was. Engaged and respectful of speakers without end on topics seemingly without merit, she was such a positive force: gentle, insightful, professional.

These sorts are almost impossible to replace today. She will be sorely missed by all who had the privilege to work with her or simply know her.
George Dodds
April 4, 2017
So sorry to learn of Joy's passing. She was a wonderful colleague, friend, and mentor. My world is not the same without her.
Mary Albrecht
April 4, 2017
I have many fond memories of my good friend and mentor Joy. She always welcomed me into her home with grace and love. She helped me gain my confidence as a teacher and researcher and guided me through the ups and downs of life as a department chair. i will cherish our times rooming together at conferences and enjoying ice cream together. Thank you for being a constant light of support and wisdom. Now it's time for you to rest at the side of your savior and reap the benefits of everlasting life.
Camille O'Bryant
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