Henningsens Honored by Benedictine College

  • Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Two prominent alumni were honored by Benedictine College during the annual Alumni Reunion Banquet on June 9.  JoAnn Henningsen ’63 received the 2012 Offeramus Medal and her late husband, John ’62, received the 2012 Kansas Monk Award posthumously. 

Mount St. Scholastica College, which joined with St. Benedict’s College in 1971 to form Benedictine College, established the Offeramus Medal in 1957 for alumnae who had distinguished themselves in their profession, showed a prominence of service to the civic community, demonstrated outstanding loyalty to the alma mater, and reflected honor on the college through family and social life.  In 1960, St. Benedict’s established the corresponding Kansas Monk Award for its graduates.

JoAnn (Johnson) Henningsen was born in Maryland, but her family moved to Missouri, where she graduated from Webster Groves High School in 1959.  She went on to Mount St. Scholastica College, now Benedictine College, and earned Bachelor’s degrees in Sociology and History in 1963. 

“Who could have predicted the lifelong connections all of us have had from this little town of Atchison,” said Henningsen during her acceptance speech.  She went on to tell several stories of those connections, including the garden tea party for incoming freshmen, travelling to Denver on Easter Break, meeting her husband, getting married in St. Benedict’s Church and sending three of her own children to Benedictine College.

“”I’m really grateful to be part of this Benedictine family,” she said.  “Whether our introduction to the Benedictine family spirit was through Mount St. Scholastica College, St. Benedict’s College or Benedictine College, we all are the recipients of a legacy that dates back almost 1500 years.”

JoAnn married John Henningsen following her college graduation and the couple raised five children together.  They were married for 47 years, until he passed away in 2010.  JoAnn taught at St. Adalbert’s Elementary School in Omaha, but John’s job took the family around the country, giving her the opportunity to experience several careers.  She spent 15 years developing new medical practices for Family Practitioners and Orthopedic Surgeons and consulting with other medical practices.  A move to California sparked interest in real estate and she took up sales and part ownership in a residential real estate firm.  After enjoying another 15 years in her third career in world travel and tour management, she finally retired in 2007.  Throughout it all, she has maintained a 53-year relationship with Mount St. Scholastica and a close friendship with Sr. Kathleen Egan, O.S. B., whom she describes as her mentor and personal guidance counselor.

“There is one thing that is key, John would want you to remember one thing about this honor, this gathering and this weekend; and that is what it means to be part of a community,” said John’s son, Tim Henningsen ’95, who accepted the Kansas Monk Award in memory of his father.  “This was his legacy in everything that he did, as a son, a brother, a student, a teammate, a husband, a father, an uncle, a business leader, a coach, a mentor, and a dear friend.”

John Henningsen was born in Omaha and grew up in Bellevue, Nebraska.  He graduated from Creighton Prep in 1954.  Eventually he went on to St. Benedict’s College, now Benedictine College, and graduated in 1962 with Bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and economics.  He began his professional career as a benefits analyst with United of Omaha but, encouraged by one of his college classmates, Larry Sink, John began a 38 year sales and management career in Educational Publishing with Addison-Wesley, The Wright Group/McGraw Hill Publishers. His work moved him and his family from Omaha to Kansas City, Washington, D.C., Orlando, Boston, San Francisco, and Seattle.  He retired to Arizona in 2005.

Throughout his publishing career, John was described as an inspirational mentor and life coach by coworkers. He credited his experiences at Benedictine College, and in particular his basketball years, as an important part of his education.  He said he learned to trust and lead others, solve problems, quickly analyze situations, and work within an organization.

Reunion Weekend
More than 400 graduates from as far back as 1952 returned to the Benedictine campus over June 8, 9, and 10 for the annual Alumni Reunion Weekend.  Many attendees brought spouses, children, and even grandchildren along to enjoy the camaraderie and festivities.

The reminiscing got underway Friday evening with the 50th anniversary gathering of the St. Benedict’s College and Mount St. Scholastica College alumni of 1962.  The group enjoyed a wonderful dinner and gathering in the new conference center on the top floor of the Ferrell Academic Center.  After the meal and a round of storytelling, the group joined others out on the quad where they were entertained by a live band into the night.

Saturday was filled with events, including the All-Alumni Barbeque,  the traditional ice cream social at the Mount and a wine and cheese tasting on the fourth floor of the Ferrell Academic Center.  The celebrations culminated in the annual All-Alumni Reunion Banquet and Dance that evening.

Benedictine College
Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas.  The school is proud to have been consistently named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report.  It has also been named a Leader in Educational Excellence by Colleges of Distinction as well as one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by The Newman Guide and First Things magazine.  Benedictine prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging.  It has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.