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Shirl Henke

Jim Henke, who is and always will be all my heroes, passed away on September 20th, 2017. These are the hardest words I've ever written. This is why I have not worked on the promised sequel in the American Lords series. Back in early April, Jim was hit head-on by a driver who had lost control of a large SUV a mile from our home. His small wagon was spun into a ditch on his side of the road and smashed to bits. Jim is not only the smartest, but also the bravest man I've ever known. He fought through multiple surgeries and spent nearly half a year in three hospitals and two rehab facilities before finally losing his long battle when his heart and lungs finally gave out. Our son and I were with him every day. The three of us have always been a close trio who have spent birthdays, Father's Days and Mother's Days and all the holidays together.

It will be a long and lonely road back for Matt and me. I don't know what I would do without our son. We're seeing a grief counselor and trying to adjust to living without Jim's vital presence in our lives. The counselor has urged me to begin writing again. I will try. The very evening of the accident, Jim and I sat out on our deck brainstorming the plot for my new book. He had already roughed up three sample chapters for me to check out and rearrange.

Although he always supported me in my writing career, after his retirement he became even more active, handling many of the promotional and communication details (such as checking all the writer's loops to which I belong). Now I'm flying solo. Other than a handful of Face Book posts, I have not ventured into this area, nor have I updated this website until now. One thing I cannot do is write the humorous and entertaining newsletters he did for my website. The backlisted ones will be kept available on the Newsletter page. Any news about my life and work I'll write on this home page.

In his lifetime, Jim was a sailor in the U.S. Navy where he earned a brown belt in judo from an instructor trained at Kodokan in Japan. In civilian life, Jim held many jobs while working his way through three universities to earn his B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. in English literature. Among these jobs were teaching judo, tending bar and driving a cab. Although not a "saint" in the literal sense of Sir Thomas Moore, he shared the traits of courage, integrity and always staying true to his word. He was truly a man for all seasons. Dear friends of ours have a daughter who is a multi-published poet. Jim always admired her work. When he passed, they asked her to write the following Elegy, which was read at his memorial service. I think it best to close with it's eloquent tribute to a man who indeed wore many hats:

An elegy for Jim Henke (April 26, 1938 - September 20, 2017) The sailor's hat is oval, peaked and white,
A souvenir of four years spent at sea.
The judogi hangs near, still crisp and bright,
A sensei's honor in the belt's degree

The bartender has hung his hat as well,
Wiped clean the bar and poured the final glass.
The cabbie's cap is hooked, a tale to tell,
Of driving folks to work or home or class.

Professor's cap and gown are neat and black,
Their English creases pressed so smooth and fine.
The fan of poems in not coming back;
His Herbert Johnson hides the final line.

The hats are hung, the hat rack full of care,
Their wearer gone where halos hang to spare.

Elizabeth Barrette

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Amazon.com | Barnes & Noble
        iBooks             | Kobo                          

Amazon.com | Barnes & Noble
        iBooks             | Kobo                          



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