John N. DeFoore, Jr. 1946-2021


John N. DeFoore, Jr., 75, passed away suddenly Aug. 11, 2021 at his home in Grand Saline. He was born in Greenwood, Miss. on June 8, 1946, the son of John Sr. and Zola Estelle (Telle) DeFoore. He was the oldest of four boys.

John graduated from Moorhead High School, Moorhead, Miss. in 1964. He studied music at both McMurry University in Abilene and the University of Maryland Overseas. 

John was a gifted guitarist and songwriter. He began playing the guitar in 1959 and had been playing and teaching since. John’s musical career truly began after high school graduation when the U.S. Air Force stationed him in England, where he met folk guitarist Ramblin’ Jack Elliott.  John spent his time learning performance skills and playing styles and techniques while surrounded by many guitar greats. He played in a number of bands and during his off hours would teach guitar to others. After leaving the military, John spent another six years in London playing music. He played in the house band at Les Cousins in London and wrote commercial songs for British television.

Upon returning to the United States, John began his formal education continuing to focus on music. He played in a band with Tim Holiday, toured with Adam Carroll and played in a trio with Randy Brown and Dirje Smith. His last band Jealousy Motel performed throughout East Texas, Dallas and surrounding states until 2007.

John enjoyed challenges. He purchased the Beckham Hotel in Mineola in 1989 and moved from Dallas with the thought of opening a music performing venue and hotel. He felt it was time to get back into performing. In the hotel he ran a performing/jam venue called the Piney Woods Pickin’ Parlor for 17 years. Owning the hotel additionally led to John opening the DeFoore Music Institute. John continued to teach. John was the type of teacher all teachers should be. He was patient and encouraging to all his students regardless of age. John’s approach to teaching did not focus on chords and scales but rather songwriting. John reinforced with his students you cannot be a songwriter without writing some bad songs, but it was important to finish each song, even the bad ones. The important thing to John was that his students have a good time playing and enjoy music. It did not matter what genre, country, rock, pop, blues, emo (pop rock), etc., John was prepared and equipped to teach them all. John wanted his students fully developed so the Institute additionally taught singing and performing skills as well as the business side of the music industry. During this time, John taught himself music theory which allowed him to further enhance the teaching experience with his students.

In John’s teaching career, he helped to create such noted artists as Kacey Musgraves, Miranda Lambert, Michelle Shocked, Casey Rivers, Jeff Allen, Jon Wolfe, Riley Thompson, Kadie Lynn and many others. It is not possible to list everyone but know that John loved, truly loved each of his students.  

Many of his students competed in such television shows as Nashville Star, America’s Got Talent and American Idol. John always took his role as a teacher and mentor seriously. He guided his students to not write what everyone else wrote but to write what they feel and what matters to them. Write from the heart. In testament to John’s influence to the Texas Music Culture, in September 2018, John received a Lifetime Achievement Award from East Texas Music which was presented by Kadie Lynn, one of John’s former students.

Beyond music, John was a prolific writer. He recently finished a book that was sent to his publisher days before his death, “Letters from a Kitchen Table.” John also wrote prose and short stories. On his Facebook page, John narrated and personally performed musical accompaniment to some of his short stories. His book of vignettes, entitled “Texas Ghost Town Snapshots,” is available through Amazon.

John was a very eclectic individual with several true threads in his core. The strongest was his faith in Jesus Christ. He was a firm believer and helped guide others to faith and belief in the Lord. John was a soft-spoken and patient man, but he had the ability to show you the light of the Lord and helped you embrace your belief. He was a genuine Servant Leader of our Lord Jesus Christ.

He recently married Kathryn Knott-DeFoore with his father performing the ceremony. John touched the hearts of many, many people. He touched them in a way that gave them confidence and made them better. He will be sorely missed. There is one less beacon of light over East Texas.

John was preceded in death by his mother, Zola Estelle “Telle” Topp DeFoore; grandparents, William “Allie” and Mary Vivian Williams Topp; and niece, Allison Lindsey DeFoore Taylor. 

He is survived by his wife, Kathryn “Kathy” Knott-DeFoore of Grand Saline; his father, John N. Sr. and stepmother, Marion Sue Jones DeFoore of Boerne; brothers, William G. “Bill” and wife Cindy Parker DeFoore of Aubrey, Richard G. “Rick” and wife Janet DeFoore of Anson and Marney W. and wife Pamela “Pam” Anthony DeFoore of San Antonio; stepchildren, Eric C. Johnson, Kyle B. Johnson, and Kodi Jo Banks; step grandson, Lane R. Banks and former spouse Nancy Morgan; as well as numerous beloved cousins, nieces and nephews.

Friends and family are invited to attend a Celebration of Life gathering in John’s honor to be held soon in the East Texas area. Please monitor John’s Facebook page for information about this event. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the GoFundMe page in his honor at

A private family service and interment will be held in Sidon Cemetery in Sidon, Miss. Wilson and Knight Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. An online guestbook may be signed at