John T. “Jack” Henry died peacefully in his sleep Tuesday night, May 14, 2019 at home in his apartment at Brookdale the Heights after a lengthy battle with dementia. He was 84 years old.
Jack was a true Renaissance Man: musician, engineer, traveler, photographer, gardener, record collector, swim meet official, Kubrick aficionado, conversant in German, Arabic and Spanish, gracious host and an extremely generous father.
Jack was born June 25th, 1934 in Elizabethtown, Illinois to John David and Marguerite Holloman “Marnie” Henry. He was preceded in death by his wife of over 30 years Frances Anne “Sally” Henry (nee Adsit), and survived by his son David Woodard Henry and his wife Michelle LeBlanc, his daughter Roxanne Elizabeth Henry, grandchildren Andrew David Henry and Lauren Elizabeth Henry, along with David’s former wife Margaret McAndrew McNeal and Jack’s former partner Brian Russell Thompson.
Jack grew up in Rosiclare, Illinois, where he met Sally Adsit. They would eventually marry in 1957.
Starting at a very young age, Jack was a serious musician, mastering the piano by junior high, and both reed and stringed instruments after that. He played in jazz combos around the lower Ohio River region, covering Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller and the like.
After graduating top of his class at Rosiclare High School, Jack went to the University of Illinois on a full scholarship to study chemical engineering. He soon caught the eye of Shell Chemical Company, who offered him an internship in Los Angeles. He drove down Route 66 and never looked back, working for Shell 35 years until retirement, and as a consultant after that.
Jack also continued to develop his gift for music at Illinois, playing clarinet in the marching band and first clarinet in the orchestra.
On graduation, Shell deployed Jack to Houston, and in the summer of 1957, he found himself with his new bride, walking out into the humid summer heat after arriving by train at Union Station downtown. It was the beginning of a remarkable career. In the span of 16 years, Jack and his family lived in Houston, New York, San Francisco, New York again, Houston again, Liverpool and finally Houston, where they settled in so David and Roxanne could stay in one place for high school.
Jack and Sally chose to live in Clear Lake Forest, rich with Shell (and NASA!) engineers raising families. Friends like the Leaches, Haycrafts, MacAndrews, Abrahamsons and many more often enjoyed the Henry backyard pool, where Sally would cook and Jack would whip up martinis and music (in that order).
The family attended Webster Presbyterian Church, and there Jack found his true calling: church organist. For many years he played the WPC organ with near perfection. He also sang in the choir, taught Sunday school and served as an elder. Jack was honored as “Organist Emeritus” several years ago.
With the kids off to college, and unable to sit still in their empty nest, Jack accepted an assignment to al Jubail, Saudi Arabia. For three years, it served as a perfect platform for Jack and Sally’s interest in travel. India, Egypt, Jordan, Thailand, Hong Kong… the list goes on and on.
It was during a river cruise on the Danube River in 1994 when Sally died suddenly, in Budapest.
After several years living alone, Jack had a remarkable “second act.” He came out and moved to Seattle, where he spent almost two decades with his partner Brian Thompson. They explored all Seattle has to offer, continued to travel, and enjoyed the company of Jack’s best friend from college Charles Nagel and his wife Justine.
Jack moved back to Houston three years ago the be in the care of his children, grandchildren and extended family. He lived at Brookdale the Heights, receiving excellent care from the team there. The family would like to thank everyone at Brookdale, especially those who were stranded four days and nights during Hurricane Harvey, bravely caring for all the residents, and the staff in the memory care unit, who work so hard around the clock.
The family will hold a private celebration of Jack’s life on Sunday. In lieu of gifts or flowers, they ask you donate in his memory to Webster Presbyterian Church, 201 E. NASA Parkway, Webster TX 77598, where Pastor Helen DeLeon assures us … Jack Henry is a legend.