Roderick Henry, Jr., age 91, of Winona, died on Friday, June 29, 2018 at St. Anne Extended Health Care.
He was born to Roderick Sr. and Dorothy (Schmaus) Henry on February 18, 1927, in Ponsford, MN.
Roderick Jr. was a member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe White Earth Nation and grew up on the reservation. He attended Ponemah and Red Lake Indian Schools. He graduated from Bemidji High School.
In 1945, Roderick enlisted in the Navy. After completing boot camp at Great Lakes Naval Base, and medic school at San Diego, he was assigned to Millington Naval Hospital in Memphis, TN. He served as a scrub nurse in the operating rooms, treating marines from the Battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. He was honorably discharged in September 1946. He enrolled at Bemidji State College and met his future wife, Ernestine Miller. They married in 1948 and moved to Minneapolis where Rod attended railroad school. Rod and his family moved to Muncie, IN where he worked for Nickel Plate Railroad as a telegrapher, teletypist, and dispatcher. While working for the railroad, Rod completed a bachelor-of-science degree at Ball State Teachers’ College in 1956. He started teaching in Muncie Public Schools in 1957 and continued working for the railroad during the summers. Rod earned a master’s degree in social studies from Ball State in 1959.
Rod was hired as a history professor at Winona State University in 1963. He continued his own education taking two years of graduate courses at University of MN.
Prior to the enactment of the Public Employees Labor Relations Act, Rod served two years as vice president and two years as president of the Inter-Faculty Organization (IFO). He represented Winona State faculty in negotiating the first masters contract. He was elected several times as president of the faculty senate and served many times as head of the history department at WSU. In 1973, with the advice of attorney Duane Peterson, Rod designed and established the bachelor’s degree Paralegal program at WSU. He retired from WSU in 1991.
Rod enjoyed playing his guitar and singing. He loved Minnesota, particularly Winona, and did not hesitate to tell people it is the greatest place in the USA. Rod believed knowledge is a thirst to live, know the unknown, and believe in the ultimate goodness of mankind.
He is survived by his daughter, Eileen (Milton) Bohn; adopted son Mark Henry; daughter-in-law Jill (VanAlstine) Henry; seven grandchildren; five great grandchildren; his siblings: John Henry, Mary Ellen Olson, and Dorothy “Mike” (Don) Carey.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife of sixty-three years, Ernestine; son Steven Henry; siblings Douglas Henry, Betty Beliveau, and Terry Dean Henry.
Services and interment will be privately held. In celebration of Rod’s life, the family will hold a gathering and luncheon at the Leon J. Wetzel American Legion Post 9 on Saturday, August 4, 2018 from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
The family gives special thanks to the staff at Sugarloaf Assisted Living, doctors, nurses and aides at Winona Health and St. Anne Extended Healthcare.
In lieu of flowers, memorials can be directed to WSU Foundation Steven R. Henry Endowment Fund, or donor’s choice.