John Wesley Henson dies at age 91

Postal worker who enjoyed singing in choirs

August 20, 2010|By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun

John Wesley Henson, a retired postal worker and active church member who enjoyed singing in choirs, died Aug. 10 of a stroke at Northwest Hospital Center. He was 91.

Mr. Henson, the son of a farmer and homemaker, was born in Baltimore and raised by an uncle and aunt in Lincoln, Del.

After graduating from high school in Delaware, he began his college studies at Delaware State College for Colored Students, which became Delaware State College in 1947 and later Delaware State University.

His college studies were interrupted when he was drafted into the Army during World War II, where he attained the rank of sergeant and served in the Pacific.

After the war, he returned to Delaware State on the GI Bill of Rights. He was the football team's star running back and earned a bachelor's degree in biology.

His prowess on the gridiron earned him entry into the Delaware State University Hall of Fame.

Mr. Henson worked for the Library of Congress in Washington before taking a job in 1951 with the U.S. Post Office in Baltimore.

He was later assigned as a postal clerk and worked at the main post office on East Fayette Street. He retired in 1984.

Mr. Henson and his wife, the former Mildred Burton, whom he married in 1948, lived for many years in Walbrook before moving to Owings Mills in 2001. She died in 2004.

Mr. Henson was a member of Trinity Presbyterian Church, where he sang with the choir for many years.

Mr. Henson received a scholarship to Peabody Prep, where he learned to sing in Italian and German.

He also performed with the choir of Heritage United Church of Christ and the Olton Singers.

"In recent years, John could be heard singing at his home in Owings Mills, especially during birthday celebrations when his family and friends would gather around the piano," said Keith Pennick, a longtime friend. "John's full baritone voice would soar powerfully above the others."

Mr. Henson was an avid Baltimore Colts and Ravens fan.

Services were Wednesday at Trinity Presbyterian Church.

Surviving are a son, Dr. Arnold Henson of Laguna Beach, Calif.; a daughter, Terri Jean Henson of Owings Mills; a brother, Solomon Henson of Randallstown; a sister, Antoinette Green of Camden, N.J.; and five grandchildren.

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