Monday, September 12, 2016

The Brief, Brave Life of Denise Henning

Denise Henning died yesterday.  I don't know if it is appropriate for me to write this blog about her, but I feel compelled to do so. I cannot stop thinking about who she was and the life she lived. I feel like everyone should know her name, she was such an amazing person.  I knew Denise for more than twenty years.  I always liked her, always admired her, but we were not really girlfriends,

Denise was a trial lawyer.  She had guts.  She went to trial when others were too afraid.  And, she won. I remember when she started her own firm across the street from ours.  Unlike me, Denise was not satisfied just practicing law.  She was truly a role model.  She was a leader.  She volunteered her time doing charitable things.  She had celebrations for women who achieved recognition in the field of law.  Denise excelled, and she gave back.

Denise founded a charitable branch of the Association of Women Lawyers.  She started a mentoring group for young women lawyers.  Her energy seemed inexhaustible.  I remember her pregnancies, giving birth to two healthy boys a dozen or more years ago.  I remember meeting her husband, Denise's high school sweetheart.

I remember years ago when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and her announcement that she had it beat.  She deservedly received award after award.  When she was on the cover of Kansas City Magazine as a Super Lawyer, I read with interest about her life.  The article is attached.  Denise Henning.  That was in 2011.

Then, in 2012, when her boys were playing baseball, Tim, Denise's husband, had a major heart attack and died.  He was only 47 years old.  I felt so bad for Denise.  I think, I hope, I let her know.

What I did not know then, but came soon to find out, was that just a few months before Tim's death, Denise discovered that her cancer had returned.  Her boys were young.  Denise called and asked if I knew who could hire her secretary, because she didn't want to leave her employee out in the cold while she ended her practice to tend to her boys and to her health.

Then, Denise started a foundation in memory of her husband, The Henning Family Foundation. She held golf tournaments to purchase AED devices so that if someone had a heart attack in a public, perhaps, unlike her husband, their lives could be saved. Every year we contributed to the foundation so another AED could be purchased.  In 2015, with an AED in her car, Denise saved a man's life whose heart had stopped.  Henning News Article She received an another award, this time from the Red Cross.

This past May I did not hear from Denise.  May is when she held the Tim Henning golf tournaments. I feared her health was deteriorating further.  In June, I learned that the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys was honoring Denise with its highest award, the Tom Strong award.  I made sure that I attended the banquet.  There is no one I know who was and is more deserving of that award.  I sent Denise a long email telling her how much I admired her.  Denise accepted the award at the annual banquet.  She needed help getting onto the stage.  Her boys were with her.  She did not look well.  I made my way to her and hugged her and told her again how deserving she was.

That was is the last time I ever talked to Denise.  I noticed that within the past few weeks, her friends on Facebook had been posting photos of Denise.  Denise's oldest son, a teenager, posted a loving tribute to his mother.  He wrote of how much his mother had sacrificed for he and his brother in the wake of their father's death.

On Sunday evening, September 11, 2016, Denise died.  I cannot stop thinking about her.  I cannot stop worrying about her sons.  I cannot stop mourning the loss of this wonderful women.  I can just imagine how hard Denise's passing is for her loved ones.  Denise Henning is irreplaceable.  The world is a better place for her having lived among us for oh too short a time. What an amazing person she was.

15 comments:

  1. What a brave woman your friend Denise was, Lynne.

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  2. Denise would love that you took the time to write this! She leaves behind a legacy and million friend!

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  3. Denise was an amazing woman. She had more strength and courage than anyone I know. She will be greatly missed, but I know she will be looking down on all of us with strength and love.

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  4. This is a wonderful tribute. I am so sorry for her loss.

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  5. Lynne, Thank you so much for that lovely tribute to Denise. She was a great lawyer, a great mother, and a great woman, who really gave back every day. May we all honor her by continuing her legacy.

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  6. I do not know Denise, but this tribute brought me to tears. Isn't it ironic that she died on 9/11 -- a day of heroes. She is one.

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  7. Great tribute Lynne.

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  8. what a beautiful tribute Lynne.

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  9. This is a beautiful tribute! I knew of Denise, but I did not know her. I know some very good friends of hers and have known for a long time how much she means to them. And those women whom I do know are strong, committed women whose opinions mean a great deal! I really do wish I had known her...a truly special woman and a great loss to her family, her friends and to the community.

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  10. I also did not know Denise well, but knew her Tim's brother and his wife. Denise is truly one of my heroes. She lived life to the fullest and always thought of others first. My heart has been so broken since I heard the news. I too worry about her boys and all her friends. I know how I feel and I hardly knew her. Thank you for the blog post and the beautiful things you said about her.

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  11. Lynne, will you marry me? Oh wait, you're already married ... & so am I. Well, it's the thought that counts.

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  12. God, please with this family during this tragic time. Bring peace & love. May both boys know how much thier parents love them & may they be blessed thought thier lives! Amen!

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  13. Thanks for posting. It's great to know.

    I'm going to also post this tribute on a Facebook page of mine, "More Women Need to Lead the World."

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  14. As intelligent as you clearly seem to be and as much a feminist and supporter of other women, I can't for the life of me understand why you supported, at least in the past, the misogynist, sexist Tony Botello and his "Tony's Kansas City" blog. By virtue of his posting racist commenters statements, it's also a disgustingly racist blog, too, but that, I suppose, is another matter, though important to me and a lot of us.

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  15. You didn't mention his fanatical pro-gun stance. He characterizes reasonable people asking for reasonable gun controls as "attacking our freedom". Lynne, do you think men convicted of domestic violence should be allowed to possess a gun?

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