A legacy of love and faith

Thursday, July 3, 2008

On Tuesday morning, I arrived at work to receive the sad news that Heno Head, Sr., had passed away. Heno's death changed my plans for this week's editorial, because I find myself inclined to write about a very special man who touched my life and the life of my family.

Those who didn't have the pleasure of knowing Heno personally, probably knew of him as the founder of Camp Soaring Hawk in Pioneer, which is now the site of Camp Barnabas. My husband Mike spent many summers at Camp Soaring Hawk and has glorious memories of times spent along Shoal Creek in the company of Heno and Jane and their family. Those were happy times for Mike, and I am forever grateful for the foundation of faith those camp years provided for my husband.

I got to know the Head family after I married Mike, and although I arrived at my acquaintance later in life, Heno and Jane always made me feel as if I'd known them my whole life. Heno was one of those men who literally radiated love and kindness. His eyes always sparkled as he talked to me and he made me feel as if I were the most important person in the world during our conversations. As I write this, I don't know Heno's age, because he seemed ageless. Even though he got around a little slower in recent years, he always seemed full of life and youthful vitality.

There are very few people in this world who truly exemplify Christ's love in every aspect of their life, and I believe Heno was one of those special individuals. He not only believed in Jesus Christ but lived a Christ-like life. I'm not saying he was perfect, no one is, but I am saying that I always felt God's love and acceptance when I talked with Heno. Being around Heno just made me feel closer to God. Heno was a man of principle, character and compassion and lived his life with a joy that was contagious.

As I write this, my heart is sad, because I will no longer be able to have those chance meetings with Heno where I felt so valued and loved, but I also find myself rejoicing in a life that was lived so fully. I can imagine that Thursday's memorial service at the United Methodist Church in Monett could go on for hours as family and friends tell "Heno stories." There will be tears, but those tears will be ­mingled with laughter, thanksgiving and praise for a man who touched so many lives with his unconditional love and support.

Over the past year, I have had the pleasure of working alongside Heno's son, Victor Head, on the Barry County Drug Court Planning Team. It was Victor who asked me to serve on the team, and I was grateful for the opportunity to help establish a program that will surely have a huge positive impact on the Barry County community. After spending time with Victor, it's clear to me that Heno's greatest legacy just might be found in his role as father to three men who seem to have followed in their father's footsteps. As I have watched Victor preside over his courtroom as judge, I see the same compassion for humanity that I witnessed in his father. Victor's quiet humor, his gentle voice, his joy for life and his Christian character remind me more and more of Heno. Heno's legacy continues in the lives of his wife, Jane, and his sons, Victor, Heno, Jr., and Hayden and their families. Thank you Heno for the impact you made in my life and Mike's and so many others. You will be missed and remembered always.