A Masonic service for Michael A. Henning by Signet Lodge 265 will be held at 2 p.m. June 26 in the Willow Twp. Cemetery, Bayard, with the Rev. William Crawford, grand master of Iowa Masons, officiating.
Michael’s story begins over the German/Austria border in a B-17 piloted by Capt. Albert C. Henning in World War II.
In the process of a bombing run with the 459th Squadron, the “Texarkana Hussy” — his plane named for his wife, Jane — was shot down.
After bailing out and surviving the explosion, he was captured and transported through Frankfort, Germany. While at the train station, a group of German civilians became aware of the situation and were prepared to hang both Albert and the pilot he was carrying on the spot. A German soldier grabbed him and the man he was carrying and threw them both into a locked box car headed to prison camp, saving his life.
After 17 months in a POW camp, Albert returned home but he never forgot what the German soldier had done for him.
Following the war, Albert continued in the U.S. Air Force and was reassigned to France in the mid-’50s. At that time, he and wife Jane adopted Michael Henning, a German orphan born Aug. 18, 1955.
Michael was so proud of his father and mother. May they rest in peace.
Mike graduated from Bayard High School with the Class of 1973. He considered his classmates his lifelong friends.
No one will ever forget Mike’s impressions, which he loved to share, making people laugh. He could imitate anyone but was especially known for John Wayne, Jack Benny, Harry Morgan and a host of others. His sound effects of a Kawasaki motorcycle hitting a brick wall were legendary, always bringing a smile to his classmates.
His life plans were to be a cattle farmer, but a serious car accident changed those intentions. He rented out his farm ground to Jerry Peckumn and reluctantly sold his cattle.
He became a volunteer at Thomas Rest Haven and for other organizations. Mike worked for a short time at Thomas Rest Haven. He was a dedicated volunteer there, spending many hours with the residents. He called Bingo and enjoyed awarding prizes. Mike helped residents by taking them shopping and to church.
Most of all, he visited with them and listened to their stories. He loved to sing the great Frank Sinatra tunes to entertain the residents and staff. He had a beautiful singing voice.
Mike received his third degree of Masonry in Coon Rapids Charity Lodge 197 in 1989 and served the lodge as worshipful master in 1996, 2001 and 2002. He continued to be an active Mason in Signet Lodge 264 in Carroll when the Coon Rapids lodge was discontinued. He was also a Shriner and a Scottish Rite Mason.
Mike was fondly known as “the onion man.”
He delighted in selling bags of sweet Vidalia onions each spring to benefit the Shriners. It gave him the opportunity to talk with his friends and customers, and Mike loved to talk. This year it was a challenge for him to deliver more than 100 bags of onions, but with perseverance and the help of friends, every bag was delivered.
Mike was a collector of many items, but especially John Wayne memorabilia, “CHiPS” and other TV/movie items. He enjoyed classic vehicles, was proud owner of several used police vehicles, and “collected” motorcycles and vehicles like those he or his family had owned throughout the years.
Mike died June 10 at his rural home in Bayard. He was 64 years, nine months and 23 days of age.
While he was an only child without any close relatives following the death of his parents, Mike considered his numerous friends as his family, and his presence and good nature will be missed forever.
Michael was preceded in death by his mother, Margaret “Jane” (McGaha) Henning in 1988; his father, Albert Clifford Henning, in 1996; and his grandmother, LuLu Henning.
He is survived by his Bates and Henning cousins; his farmer, Jerry Peckumn; his lifelong friends of the Bayard Class of 1973; and so many special friends from Thomas Rest Haven and the Masons and Shriners of Coon Rapids and Carroll.
With special thanks to Kent and Kim Bates, for sharing Albert’s stories, to Luann Waldo and the Class of 1973 for the memories; to the caregivers at McFarland Clinic in Carroll, who helped Michael deal with his many health challenges; and to Aunt Janette Henning Hostetler, who filled Michael’s cookie jar countless times over the years, providing not only sustenance but comfort and advice!
Ohde Funeral Home in Manning is assisting with arrangements.