How Memories Help Us Heal: RIP Andy Henson

Andrew “Doc” Henson

The first line of today’s blog was going to start with, “I lost a good friend this week”, but I then realized that isn’t true.  We never totally lose those we love.  I hadn’t spoken to Andy for years, because we both did what adult friends seem to do…we kept putting off calls and visits.  Then the phone call comes reminding us that we procrastinated for far too long, and a rush of emotions and feelings begin.  For a brief moment I did feel guilt, but it quickly gave way to regret.  I regret not taking the time to have just one more conversation, and a couple of cheap beers while laughing.  You rarely spent five-minutes with Andy without laughing.  

Andy was extremely intelligent, and I know this because I actually gave him an IQ test.  After a “few” Strohs he asked, “Russell you give IQ tests at your office don’t you?”  Before long we were taking a 20 minute drive to my psychology practice.  Despite his mildly altered state of mind he scored within the superior range of intelligence!  I shouldn’t have been surprised considering his father is a doctor, his oldest brother was a doctor, and his second brother is a doctor!  However, Andy always said that his mother was smarter than all of them! I asked him why he never became a doctor and his answer was simply, “I hate the sight of blood.”  

Another odd indicator for Andy’s high level of intelligence was the bathroom in his apartment.  The first time I walked in I was not only shocked by the fact it hadn’t likely been cleaned for 10 years, but there were at least 4 encyclopedias on the floor!  Most college guys go to the bathroom while reading Sports Illustrated, but Andy would read through encyclopedias.  And If anyone questioned the amount of knowledge in that large head of his all they needed to do was sit and watch Jeopardy with him!  Is it any wonder he cringed as he stood and watched me burn some of my text books the day I graduated from college?  He stood there shaking his head, and at one point reached into the flame to save a book he said he wanted to read.   

One of my most vivid memories comes from my first marriage.  On the…the wedding day and a minute before we walked up the long steps to trot down the isle…Andy pulled me aside to ask me one last question.  Well actually it was more of a statement when he said, “Russell, if you don’t want to do this I will take you anywhere you want to go.  We’ll just get in my car and take off!”    

The wonderful memories like those I just mentioned play-out with HD quality in my mind, which helps replace the regrets and tears.  Make note that Andy would despise my sentence structure, and the fact I’m talking openly about shedding tears.  Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts about one of my favorite people.  My heart and thoughts go out to the those of you who were lifelong friends of Andy, and to his family who have endured too much grief over the last few years.  I pasted Andy’s obituary for you to read below. It’s well written with humor, which Andy the English major would have loved.  Remember, we never fully lose those we love when we have memories of them that make us smile.  



ANDREW SAMUEL HENSON. Andrew “Andy” Henson, 45, died on Monday, March 3 at his home in Hurricane. A lifelong resident of Hurricane, he was preceded in death by his brother Dr. Scott Henson, maternal grandparents Clyde and Midge Westfall and paternal grandparents Clifford and Harriet Henson.  He is survived by his parents, Dr. Sam Henson and Joan Westfall Henson of Hurricane, & brother Dr. Doug Henson…and many other friends and family were listed.    

Also left to miss him as well is his mixed breed mutt, “Mac,'” passed on to him by his late brother, Scott, and who, by Andy’s admission, pees too much. Growing up in Hurricane, Andy was a better than fair athlete being a starter for the Hurricane High School basketball team and an all-state golfer. He was a low single digit handicapper during his mid and late teen years at Sleepy Hollow Golf Club, noted for routine 300 plus yard drives. He received his B.A. degree from Marshall University in 1991 and became a top administrative assistant to state treasurers Larry Bailey and later John Perdue. He worked there alongside his good friend, cousin and golfing croney, Sam Cole, the assistant treasurer under Mr. Bailey.

Andy’s health took a sudden bad turn in 2002 when he developed dilated Cardiomyopathy, a very serious heart problem, ultimately requiring a heart transplant in 2003 at Cleveland Clinic. This forced his retirement from the political arena. Even though he could no longer play he continued to follow golf via the PGA tournaments. Always rooting for the underdogs, he particularly enjoyed seeing Tiger, on those rare occasions, take double bogies or plop one in the water or among the trees.

Visitation for family and friends will be on Friday, March 7 from 6-9 p.m, at the Allen Funeral Home in Hurricane. The Allens, long time family friends are assisting. The Henson family wishes to thank the local rescue squad and Putnam EMT’s for their efforts. In lieu of flowers please make a donation to West Virginia Health Right in Charleston or to your favorite charity. On the off-chance that there is an organization around whose aim is to help left-handed golfers with outlandishly high handicaps, please remember them in Andy’s name.