Floral 09

Carolyn Henke

March 26, 1935 ~ October 8, 2020 (age 85)


Carolyn G. Henke, 85, of Brentwood, Tennessee (formerly of Champaign, IL) passed away peacefully on Thursday October 8, 2020. 

She was born on March 26, 1935, to Everett C. and Ida H. McCord, at the former Fort Sheridan Army Base, in the Chicago area.  She grew up in Champaign and spent a short time in Ingraham, IL, during WW2, attending Champaign Senior High School class of 1952.  She went to work after graduating, at the University of Illinois, as a switchboard operator.    

She married Herbert G. Henke on February 3, 1956.  Together they helped his parents Herbert Sr. & Emma, run Henke Star Markets in the 1960’s, and then went on to run Herbs Market through the mid 1980’s.  She also worked in the Monticello School System as a library aid in the elementary/jr high and the high school.  After a brief stint at Christie Clinic billing, she finished out her working career as a Chief Library Clerk, at the University of Illinois.

She is survived by her son John David Henke.  Her brother Carlton (Mary).  Also, her Nashville quartet of amazing women, that helped her so much, Carol, Donna, Janice and Kathleen.  Her other created family, Melisse, John M., Sally, Terri, Gina, Amy, Tim, Nick & Conor.  Several special cousins.  And especially, Joe and Sue.  Many others for sure and you are all appreciated so much.

She was preceded in death by her husband, parents, sister, Deane and her cats (Peekaboo and Midnight, being 2 of her favorites). 

She had a passion for living and was very social.  She loved to play bridge and taught many others how to play the game.  Reading was her favorite past time and she devoured all kinds of books of several genres.  She loved good movies and television, especially period pieces like Downton Abbey and The Crown.  She also loved music, from the classics to country to the Eagles.  She was quick witted and could deliver a line, that would cut to the point and put you on the floor with laughter.  She had a way of saying what everyone else was thinking, but tactfully and sometimes not.  Being a child of the great depression and world war, she understood hard times, but at the same time championed the future, for other women.  When asked about the Covid19 pandemic and relating it to her life history, she compared it to Polio, but said the difference being, that because it really only struck children, it wasn’t political.  Very wise she was and others sought her advice often.  After losing her husband in 2012 and living in Illinois her whole life, she courageously moved to Nashville to be closer to her son and his work in the country music business.  She lived in 3 different senior communities, making friends and memories along the way.  Rummikub became a new game, of which she became quite proficient at playing and teaching. 

No person is perfect.  No parent is perfect.  She and my father did this one perfect thing as parents.  They accepted me, their son John, as a gay man in 1986.  They didn’t allow others beliefs or any institution, to stand in the way of their acceptance and love.  She was way ahead of her time.  For that I will always thank her and my father.  They had courage and strength.  Their unconditional support and love made all the difference.  They did what was right.  I hope others reading this, will learn from their example.  She taught me that women are so strong.  I’m honored to be her son. 

Due to Covid19, a private celebration of Carolyn’s life, will be held at a later time.    



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