Katherine Henneberger, 61, professor of economics

September 21, 2006|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,sun reporter

Katherine Henneberger, a retired Goucher College economics professor who believed that the study of financial trends did not have to be dull, died of cancer Friday at her Owings Mills home. She was 61.

Born in Baltimore and raised on her parents' farm, Milford Meadows, she was a 1963 graduate of Milford Mill High School and earned a bachelor's degree in English at Goucher College. As a young woman, she rode horses and was a model and an orientation and training director for the Hecht Co., where she also edited the retailer's in-house employee publication.

She decided to go into teaching and enrolled at George Washington University for graduate study. She dropped her English major after studying with Mary Holman, a teacher who inspired her to pursue economics. She was awarded a doctorate in the field by GWU in 1987.

Dr. Henneberger co-wrote with Robert Shouldice a 1977 book, Medical Group Practice and Health Maintenance Organizations. She joined the Goucher faculty in 1979.

"Kathy loved what she taught. Her excitement for the subject and her clever way of making the topics interesting had me awake and listening," said Shannon Towner, a former student now in the finance department of the Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public health.

"I'll never forget the principle of diminishing marginal utility as Kathy associated it to martinis, gin, olives and vermouth. By the end of that first semester at Goucher, I ended up loving economics, and I have Kathy to thank for that," she said.

Colleagues and students recalled that Dr. Henneberger was adept at telling jokes and had a ready supply. She would give one extra-credit point on tests for students who wrote a joke on the back of their papers. She filled her lectures with amusing stories and also composed limericks. They said she was fiercely competitive at word games and had a sign on her desk that read, "I refuse to have a battle of wits with an unarmed person."

"She was the epitome of a well-read liberal arts graduate who could also ride a tractor and handle a shotgun," said her husband of 16 years and lone survivor, George Delahunty, a Goucher professor of biology who met her when both were teaching at the school. "If she wanted to do something, it would get done."

In 1982, Der. Henneberger's students nominated her for Goucher's Excellence in Teaching Award, which the administration conferred upon her at graduation ceremonies that year.

"She was a real light bulb - witty, engaging and an often irreverent professor," said LaJerne Cornish, an assistant professor in the school's education department who was her student in 1980. "She motivated us to want to learn."

She taught courses in microeconomics and macroeconomics, international trade, money and banking, and health care financing. She was also economics department chairwoman for several years.

"She was a demanding, caring and inspiring teacher," said a Goucher colleague, Kay Munns, who taught political science and spoke at her funeral yesterday in Towson.

Jeffrey Myers, a member of the Goucher English faculty, recalled, "She found the good in everybody and believed in it."

In her free time, Dr. Henneberger acted as the general contractor for her Baltimore County home. She also did the interior design - sewing curtains, painting rooms and hanging wallpaper - and landscaping.

Dr. Henneberger was diagnosed with lung cancer in November and retired from Goucher at the end of that semester.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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