John F. Femrite – devoted husband, loving brother, caring uncle, astute businessman, and amazing friend to many – passed away on October 24, 2022, after a brief and unexpected illness, at the age of 75 in Fort Worth, Texas.
Born December 9, 1946, in St. Paul, Minnesota to parents Iver and Lillian (Koudela) Femrite and raised in Lowry, Minnesota alongside his younger sister Dixie Femrite Nelson, John had a twinkle in his blue eyes and an intrinsic determination to achieve great things.
As a land developer and private lender, John left a lasting mark on communities across Texas and beyond over the years. Nobody worked harder than John Femrite, up before dawn most days, dressed to the nines in his fedora hat, to start wheeling and dealing. “You win some, you lose some, but you have to dress for them all,” as he would say, but – to be a bit cliché, John never really worked a day in his life because he absolutely loved what he did. In fact, a few years back when John decided he was going to dip his toes into retirement, by not working weekends, he spent about three hours pacing around the house before throwing in towel and heading back to the office.
While John cherished his work, he also embodied the ”work hard, play harder” sentiment. John loved to travel and planned absolutely epic journeys for himself and his wife of 26 years, Donna Demonbreun Femrite. John and Donna’s happiest memories are from their multi-week (sometimes multi-month) trips around the world where they convened with nature (ask Donna about the elephant stare down), climbed the Tiger’s Nest in Bhutan, waltzed their way around the dancefloor at the Vienna Ball, strolled through the Pope’s private gardens (with niece Margaux Gillman on her high school graduation trip), and ate and drank themselves silly while stealing keys from every hotel they visited. John also treasured the time he spent in Granbury at Gran Riviera Ranch, his self-proclaimed “happy place”, where he loved to feed the donkeys, longhorns and fish, tend the garden, prepare amazing meals, and entertain. John was a total foodie – he had a knack for finding unique restaurants that were off the beaten path and was an accomplished home chef, often inviting friends and family into the kitchen to cook alongside him (a favorite memory of Taylor and Edward Demonbreun, his niece and nephew and Oliver Nelson, his nephew and Godson). The “host with the most” was the life of the party, a terrific dancer, and very likely the cause of one of your worst hangovers.
Lovingly known as “The Hammer” to many who knew him, John’s greatest quality was his ability to make people from all walks of life feel special. He never met a stranger. John took great care nurturing relationships – not many moments passed in a day when he wasn’t calling or texting his friends and family, grabbing coffee with one of his breakfast buddies, or sharing articles, memes, or jokes with someone…. often simultaneously while also pestering Kim Long (John’s longtime colleague) to connect his hearing aid to his phone for optimal multitasking. I know most who read this will be nodding your heads thinking about a time when John touched your life. It was his superpower, and we are all lucky to have his fingerprints on our hearts.
Life without John’s infectious laugh, mischievous smile, and thoughtful outreach will certainly be less bright. He will be greatly missed by his family, Donna Femrite (Wife), Dixie Nelson (Sister), Dana Merritt, Denise Demonbreun, Paula Demonbreun (Sisters-in-law), David Demonbreun, Brooks Nelson, Tom Merritt (Brothers-in-law), Margaux Gillman, Taylor Demonbreun (Nieces), Oliver Nelson, Edward Demonbreun (Nephews), Gene and Bill Olafsen (Parents-in-law), and many cousins – as well as his dear friends who were his chosen family and business associates who helped John achieve great things in life.
In his memory and in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to UT Southwestern Dallas to honor his longtime friendship and support from his physician Dr. Magna Hennes. Memorial contributions can be directed to UT Southwestern Medical Center, P.O. Box 910888, Dallas, TX 75391 or online at engage.utsouthwestern.edu to support the O’Donnell Brain Institute.
A Celebration of Life and Memorial service will be held on Saturday, October 29th at 3pm at Wiley Funeral Home Granbury (400 E. Highway 377, Granbury, TX 76048). If you are unable to attend in person, please join the live video stream.