County Councilor and Friend Warren Henegar Passes Away

Warren, Amy, and Tessa at Warren’s Farm

Friends, I was so saddened to learn that our good friend and colleague on the Monroe County Council Warren Henegar passed away after his battle with cancer.

Our nation and our community owes Warren a debt of gratitude. Truly a member of the “greatest generation”, Warren’s dedication to peace and community service continued to the day he passed.

And on a personal level, Warren has been such a good political mentor to me and good friend to me and to my family. He has always made us feel at home at his farm, and always showed such an interest in our entire family. I remember when we brought home our daughter from China, Warren even came over to our house and showed us slides that he took during one of his trips to China where he brought farmers over from the US for a cultural exchange, telling us how much he loved the people he met there.

We will miss him tremendously. I am glad that he is at peace – but his passing leaves a hole in our lives.

Warren’s obituary is also a must-read — moving and truly a work of art. I am including it below.

Today’s Herald Times has a very nice article on Warren:

The Indiana Daily Student also had a short article:

Warren Prentice Henegar, 85

NOV. 30, 1926 — AUG. 21, 2012

Born in Hale County, Texas, on his parents’ tenant farm, Warren lived a good, arduous and fortunate life. His titles and accomplishments were many: Father, Husband, Friend, Farmer, Politician, Agronomist, Gentleman Philosopher, Truth Teller and worldly Quaker. He had a few unfulfilled ambitions, but not too many.

Warren loved to learn people’s stories and his own story echoed that of 20th century America. Warren was born to Wallace and Venera Tayes Henegar, two months early, weighing 2 pounds 13 ounces. Expected to die, he was placed in a shoebox. He survived. But the Dust Bowl soon threw the family off their farm and into despair. Warren’s father died in a workplace accident in 1930 and his pregnant mother and her five children survived, barely housed and fed, with her stubbornness, the migrant field labor of Warren and his siblings, and the genius of Roosevelt’s New Deal policies.

World War II pulled Warren and his family out of poverty. Warren enlisted in the Navy and reported for duty just days after his 16th birthday. He served in the South Pacific Theatre as a Torpedo Man 3rd Class on the Destroyer USS Fullam 474. Warren survived six major battles, including the radar picket lines off Okinawa. Warren became a Quaker and a (mostly) pacifist after the war, but he always maintained that World War II was a just and necessary war, that the experience was an adventure of a lifetime and that the post-war governmental policies, such as the GI Bill that paid for his college education, transformed his family’s fortunes and secured them in the middle class.

Following the war, Warren attended Stanford University and Texas Tech before completing his undergraduate degree at Oklahoma City University. He obtained a Master’s in Agronomy from Purdue University in 1969.

In 1951, at a civil rights rally in San Francisco, Warren met JoAnna Nix, another member of the Texan diaspora. Mutual friends intended JoAnna to be the date of Warren’s brother, Buddy. Three months later, Warren and JoAnna were married.

An early career with the Social Security Administration carried Warren and JoAnna across the country. Although Warren maintained the ambitions of a writer his entire life, JoAnna’s pointed out to Warren that he enjoyed working in his garden much more than sitting at his desk. They decided on Bloomington, with its cheap farmland and fertile intellectual community.

Warren and JoAnna led a rich and full life from their cattle farm in southern Monroe County. Warren worked a variety of jobs until his semi-retirement at age 79, including Soil & Water Conservationist, Fieldman for the Farm Bureau Co-op and soil scientist and waste water sanitarian for the Monroe Co. Health Dept. JoAnna worked for IU and as a hostess and excellent cook for the many friends who gathered, night after night, around their dinner table. Together they built a home and a farm and a life to which generations of friends and students and out-of-town visitors gravitated.

For over 53 years, Warren Henegar was a voice of reason in Monroe County. He served in Monroe County elected office, off and on, but mostly on, since his first election to County Council in 1970. He fought for fiscal constraint and for recognizing the good that government brings to our American lives. He campaigned for a Peace Monument on our Courthouse Square and for the tough decisions necessary to efficient government. Warren was last elected to the Monroe County Council in 2008 on the same ticket with America’s first African-American President. He was grateful that he lived to witness the latter accomplishment and grateful that his fellow citizens exceeded his expectations and defied history.

With a firm handshake, a kind greeting and keen curiosity, Warren was a welcomed presence. Always generous with his well-informed opinions pulled from wide and varied interests, Warren could both learn from and teach most everyone he met. He served on national boards dedicated to ending world hunger. He led tours to China in the early 1970s. He had, we were told, exceptional tastebuds. Warren prized the food fresh-picked from his garden and he appreciated the art of world-class chefs. He often proclaimed his joyfulness at the dinner table by asserting that “no one in the world is eating a better meal than we are tonight.”

Warren leaves his adventuresome wife of 62 years, JoAnna Nix Henegar, his above average daughters and sons-in-law: Lillian Henegar, Vancouver; Anna Henegar Ensley, Bloomington; Alice and Chris Eads, Bloomington; Jane Henegar and Matt Gutwein, Indianapolis. To weep and wail at his passing, Warren leaves his adoring grandchildren: Hilary Henegar; Ren and Andrew Eads; Lilly and Jane and Jack Ensley; Clara Gutwein. Warren also leaves lonesome his unofficially adopted children and his many friends with whom he has shared his food, his cigars, his labor, his passions, his love and his grace. We all will miss him and his good companionship and his wise counsel very much.

He was a man of integrity with an open heart.

Visitation will be Monday, August 27, 5 to 8 p.m. at the Monroe County Courthouse, 100 W. Kirkwood, Bloomington, Indiana. A memorial will be held at the Meetinghouse of the Bloomington Religious Society of Friends, 3820 Moores Pike, Bloomington, IN, on Sunday, October 7 at 2 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, Warren asks that you pay your taxes without complaint.



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