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Paul Francis Henne
January 5, 1945-April 29, 2019
The family of Paul Francis Henne, 74, of North Branch, is mourning his death while rejoicing his beautiful life. He died peacefully at home on Monday, April 29.
Paul was a man of many passions but his first love was, and has remained, his family. He was married to his true love, Connie Jo (Heck) for nearly 51 years. She survives him, along with their four children and eight grandchildren: son Patrick and Rebecca (Caitlin, Nora and Ryan); son Michael and Kathryn (Cormac); daughter Sarah and Jason Willson (Laura and Daniel Hagemeier); daughter Laura and Paul Drotleff (Keira and Colin).
He was the son of Fred and Mary Ellen (Dwyer) Henne, and the son-in-law of Herman and Evelyn (Eilers) Heck, all of whom preceded him in death. He is survived by four siblings and their families: brother James and Margaret Henne of Howell; brother William and Betty Henne of Charlevoix; sister Ellen and Jim Mikulski of North Branch; and brother Joseph and Christy Henne of Drummond Island; and his brother-in-law Alan and Deborah Heck and family of Lapeer.
Paul was the unofficial patriarch of the Dwyer clan and frequently gathered cousins from all over the country who deeply adored him. He was a favorite of Connie’s extended Eilers family and for both families he and Connie hosted many gatherings on Dwyer Road full of music, love and laughter. Paul always knew what to say to provide guidance, celebrate and give comfort to family and friends throughout the milestones of their lives.
A lover of life, a student of literature and agriculture, and an avid reader, Paul was inquisitive and always learning and growing. He believed in taking risks and the lessons to be gleaned from putting one’s whole heart into hard work and a job well done. Paul studied education at Central Michigan University and was a member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity there, graduating in 1968. He was an educator for 32 years, first at Swartz Creek where he also coached wrestling, then at North Branch schools. Paul was an influence on many lives through his love of literature and poetry. His students may remember a poem or passage he would recite from memory, but they would certainly the way that his gentle yet firm, affable manner made them feel valued and important as a champion of their potential.
Paul’s tie to the land and his love of family and farming drew him back to North Branch in 1975. He was most at home in nature in the woods or working on his farm, and he could name nearly any species of trees in the Michigan forest. Paul’s cathedral was his Sugar Shack where he made maple syrup with family and friends on the bank of the Flint River for more than 40 years. An advocate of agriculture, Paul loved his farm, working cattle, sheep and fields, tinkering on tractors with his boys and trying new practices. He loved growing food and flowers in the gardens at home with Connie and he inspired a love of the land in all his children who now work in some aspect of agriculture. He was an avid supporter of Michigan FFA and especially his son Pat’s chapter in Springport, MI.
As an All-State athlete in his early days, Paul celebrated sports and could often be found cheering on family members, friends and students on the sidelines at a football or basketball game, wrestling, track or cross country meet. His deep yell matched his heart as he believed in showing up for others in full support.
Always quick to light up a room or a party or an ordinary day with a song or verse, he was always singing songs and quoting poetry. Paul was many things to many people but to all of us he was a teacher, a coach, a mentor, friend and confidant. He was a charismatic leader who made fast friends everywhere he went and was well-loved and revered by so many people. He will be deeply missed.
The family will hold visitation on Thursday, May 2 at Blackburn Chapel-Martin Funeral Home in North Branch, from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. The funeral mass will be Friday, May 3 at 11 a.m. at SS Peter and Paul Catholic Church in North Branch with Father David Parsch officiating.
Contributions in his memory can be made to The Refuge, P.O. Box 1435, Lapeer, MI 48446; Michigan FFA Foundation, 446 West Circle Drive, 319 Morrill Hall of Agriculture, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824; or North Branch Area Schools to establish the Paul Henne Poetry Collection in the high school library, 6655 Jefferson Street, North Branch, MI 48461.
You are welcome to share an online condolence at www.blackburnchapel.com
Arrangements entrusted to Blackburn Chapel-Martin Funeral Home