Kenneth Walter Henderson, World War II Navy pilot, environmental engineer, beloved father, grandfather, mentor and friend, passed away peacefully at his son’s home in Hingham, Massachusetts, on Wednesday, March 1, 2017, surrounded by family.
Ken was born on January 1, 1926, in Exeter, NH, and while still a child, moved with his family to the Ward Hill section of Haverhill, Massachusetts.
Eager to serve his country, Ken enlisted in the Navy shortly after his 17th birthday. Within months of graduating from Haverhill High School in 1943, he was sent to the Deck Officers Training Program at Williams College. He got his wings and commission as an ensign in Pensacola, Florida. He flew a TBF Avenger as an escort pilot based off the USS Mindoro. He was decommissioned in 1947 with a rank of lieutenant.
After his discharge he spent a year working at the Knipe Shoe Factory in Ward Hill, Massachusetts. With a strong desire to further his education, he enrolled in Northeastern University as an engineering major in 1948. While an undergraduate student, he met his future wife, Lee, on a blind date and they were married in 1951.
Ken graduated from Northeastern with a degree in civil engineering in 1953 and then “went across the river” to study at Harvard University from where he received a master’s degree in sanitary engineering in 1954.
After graduating from Harvard in 1954, he accepted a position with the environmental consulting firm Malcolm Pirnie Engineers in New York City as a sanitary/environmental engineer with a focus on drinking water quality improvement. For this position he and his family moved to New York, living several years in Port Chester, NY.
He became a partner in the firm in 1963 and when the firm incorporated in 1970, he became a vice president, shareholder and director.
Ken worked on many projects for the village of Scarsdale, NY, including the water distribution system study and the Reeves Newsom Water Supply Pump Station. Other notable clients included the New Haven Water Company/Regional Water Authority and the Birmingham Water Works Board. Projects included water distribution studies, water supply plans, numerous water tanks, pumping stations and treatment plants including the Lake Gaillard Treatment Plant and Generating Station.
In 1969, he was selected as Water Utility Man of the Year for the NY section of the American Water Works Association. For many decades, Ken was an active, contributing member of the American Water Works Association and was an author of AWWA’s original standards for ductile iron pipe and cast iron pipe. He served as its national vice president and was a Fuller Award recipient in 1969 for his “contributions to the advancement of the water works industry.” Also in that year, he moved with his family to Greenwich, CT, where he would spend the next four decades of his life.
Recognizing the importance of construction contract documents, Ken started the firm’s system of standard specifications in 1975. He was an early member of the Engineers Joint Contract Documents Committee (EJCDC), starting in 1976 (one year after EJCDC formed in 1975).
Ken lived in Heliopolis, Egypt, from 1976 to 1978, where as an engineer, he led a team of Americans and Egyptians in restoring the fresh water infrastructure along the Suez Canal and in the cities of Port Said and Ismailia through a project sponsored by USAID.
When he returned to the U.S. in 1978, Ken rejoined EJCDC and became chairman of EJCDC in 1987, while chairing its construction subcommittee for many years.
At the age of 70, he assumed a new role as a senior consultant at Malcolm Pirnie Inc., becoming known throughout the firm as the “King of Specs.” He continued working on projects until the age of 84, five years after suffering a stroke that left him partially paralyzed, and completed his service as an employee of its successor firm, Arcadis, in December 2014.
In 2013, he moved to Hingham, Massachusetts, returning to his home state and enjoying being closer to his family.
Ken loved the company of his family and friends, stimulating conversation, good food, quality drinks, and spending time in the outdoors; he was exceptionally passionate about fishing and boating.
Ken was predeceased by his parents, Frank Dinsmore Henderson and Annie Winifred Henderson (Hall); and his brother, Gordon Douglas Henderson, and his wife, Marion “Lee” Henderson. He is survived by his daughter, Judith Ann Hall, and her partner, Alistair MacMartin, of Wendell, MA; his son, Bruce Kenneth Henderson, and his wife, Doris Bernacet, of Hingham, MA; and seven grandchildren: Robert Rutherford and his wife Rachel, Jennifer Rutherford and her fiancé Timothy Sheridan, Tyler Henderson, Drew Henderson and Justine Bernacet.
A memorial service will be held May 13 in Waitsfield, VT.
A memorial contribution can be made to Northeastern University to support the Lee and Ken Henderson Engineering Legacy Scholarship. Gifts may be mailed to Northeastern University Advancement Information Systems, 118 Cushing Hall, 360 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115. Alternatively, memorial gifts may be made to the scholarship fund online at northeastern.edu/giveonline. See www.Keohane.com for online condolences.