Volume 76, Number 22 | October 18 - 24, 2006


Robert Henson, 85, professor and writer; broke WWII code

A memorial service for Robert Henson, a writer and former history professor who made his home in the Village for the past 35 years, was held on Oct. 6 at St. Bartholomew’s Church, at Park Ave. at E. 50th St.

He died at the age of 85 after a year of ill health, according to Paige Jordan, a Jane St. friend and neighbor.

“He was a brilliant man with a wonderful sense of humor,” said Jordan.

Born in Shawnee, Okla., on March 15, 1921, to Robert E. and Pearl V. Henson, he attended Shawnee High School where he served as senior class president and graduated at the top of his class. He went on to the University of Oklahoma where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s of arts degrees in English, graduating Phi Beta Kappa.

Robert Henson enlisted in the Army in World War II and served in the Pacific on the island of New Caledonia where he was credited with helping break the Japanese code. He moved to Los Angeles after Army service, earned his doctoral degree in literature at U.C.L.A. and became an English professor. He also conducted historical research for several Hollywood films.

He took off a year to study in London and then moved to New York to join the Hofstra University faculty in the early 1960s. He then joined the English Department at Upsala College in East Orange, N.J., where he supervised the radio station WFMU, taught English and American literature and served for many years as chairman of the English Department until 1985 when he retired.

He came to the Village in 1970 and began writing short stories blending fiction and history. A collection of the stories, “Transports and Disgraces,” contains two O’ Henry Prize short stories, “The Upper and Lower Millstone” and “Lizzie Borden in the PM.”

An older brother, two nephews, a niece, five cousins and their children survive.

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