Longtime community leader, educator, Citizen of the Year, Bill Henry, passes away Thursday

Community Leader Bill Henry pictured at West Hills College Lemoore.
Community Leader Bill Henry pictured at West Hills College Lemoore.
Photo by Dennis Gallegos

One of Lemoore’s most visible and active citizens has passed away. Bill Henry, a longtime educator, former planning commissioner, Lemoore Citizen of the Year, college trustee, and community activist passed away following a series of strokes. Henry, a longtime valley educator who served much of his educational career as a teacher in the Central Union Elementary District, and sitting member of the Board of Trustees of West Hills Community College District, died Thursday, Oct. 31 at the age of 71.

Friends and fellow educators cited what they say is a significant loss to the community of Lemoore. “The West Hills family experienced a significant loss today with the news of the passing of Bill Henry,” said West Hills Community College District Chancellor Frank Gornick. In a written statement, Gornick said the trustee and retired elementary school teacher was “a strong advocate for access to education for all citizens of Kings and Fresno counties.”

 Arrangements will be handled by Lemoore’s Phipps-Dale Funeral Home. Mass for Henry will be held at St. Peter's Catholic Church on Wednesday, November 6 at 10 a.m. Graveside services will follow and a luncheon will be held at the Stratford Hall.

 According to West Hills College, the one-time community college student served for 26 years on the WHCCD board, starting in November 1987. He lived in Lemoore with his wife, Paddy. He went to college at Fresno City College; California State University, Fresno; and Fresno Pacific University.

 “His positive attitude, perceptive questioning and good sense of humor were always present at the Trustee meetings,” Gornick said. “He was a member of a cohesive team whose members have served an average of 24 years. He was part of unique group that operated more like a family than a governing body. He will be greatly missed by his fellow trustees and colleagues. More than a board member, he was a friend to all of us at West Hills.”

 Henry was a very visible presence in many community affairs and his affiliations included the Kiwanis Club of Lemoore and the Tulare Kings All-Star Football Game committee. He served on the board of the West Hills Community College Foundation. He was previously named Lemoore Citizen of the Year.

Henry was the 1994 Lemoore Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the year, awarded him for his community service as a planning commissioner, board member, educator, service club member, and more.
He was once asked what pleased him most about serving on the WHCCD board of trustees and replied, “The district’s ability to produce online educational opportunities and programs that can dramatically change someone’s ability to provide for themselves and their family.”

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