Dr. Frederic “Fred” Henninger, 86, died Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018, at Whatcom Hospice House, from complications related to influenza, pneumonia and motor neuron disease. Following a swift transfer to hospice care, Fred achieved his final wish not to die in a hospital. He died peacefully surrounded by all his children, their spouses and the countless prayers of many.
He leaves his love, Joanne Rasmussen of Bellingham; children and their spouses Bruce and Cindy Henninger, Bellingham; Judy Zurilgen, Federal Way; Lisa and Mike Carlson, Puyallup; and Ray and Ann Marie Henninger, Sequim; grandchildren and spouses Kelsey and Rob Hunter; Daniel Carlson; Laura and Jeremy Loween; Kayla and Jordan Tremper; Ean Henninger; Erin Henninger; Zack Zurilgen; Kate Henninger; Eric Zurilgen; and Claire, Aidan, Jack and Joseph Henninger; great-grandchildren Raegan and Levi Tremper, Benson Hunter and Ellacyn Loween; and by Joanne’s wonderful family.
Fred was preceded in death by his wife, LaDonna in 2009, brother Tom in 2017, and both parents.
Born in Buffalo City, Ohio, Dec. 23, 1931, Fred moved with his family at a young age to Bothell, Wash. He graduated from Bothell High School where he played football, basketball and baseball. It was during his high school years that a cute redheaded cheerleader caught his eye and captured his heart — LaDonna Hansen of Issaquah. After high school Fred attended Everett Community College, followed by the University of Washington.
Fred and LaDonna married June 19, 1955, in Issaquah, and lived in Seattle while Fred completed dental school at the University of Washington. Shortly after graduation in 1957, son Bruce was born, and Fred entered the Air Force, serving his country as a dentist in Montana and Guam, where daughter Judy joined the family.
Upon returning to the mainland and his honorable discharge from the Air Force, Fred established his dental practice in Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island in 1960, where he and LaDonna welcomed two more children, Lisa and Ray.
The family enjoyed countless hours of outdoor recreation on and around “The Rock,” including skiing, boating, fishing, tennis, camping and golf. Having been raised with a strong sense of independence and self-reliance, Fred exemplified these traits for his children and others to emulate; he demonstrated abundant generosity to his family, community and organizations whose vision meshed well with his own.
Fred served the Oak Harbor community as a dentist for over 35 years, while participating in activism for causes he believed in, locally and nationally, including serving as an elected city council member. He had a penchant for investing, real estate, freethinking and adventure, including solo boating trips to Alaska.
As the children grew and left home, Fred and LaDonna enjoyed travel and the friendship of many, modeling the art of hospitality to one and all.
Fred was known by many for his sense of humor. He was passionate about learning, and as such, continued challenging his intellect throughout his life. He engaged constantly in reading, conferences, video opportunities and discussion to expand and strengthen his knowledge base about a myriad of topics. Fred was a man who for many years stepped forward to make life better for others. He would be the first to admit that he didn’t always get it right, but he tried and he accomplished his goals most of the time.
Following LaDonna’s death in 2009, Fred moved to Bellingham. In time, he became a “Snowbird,” dividing his time between Tucson, Ariz., and Bellingham, enjoying recreational pursuits and Humanist activities and discussion. Serendipitously, he met his new love, Joanne, and was offered another beautiful opportunity for a loving partnership. Joanne brought joy to Fred’s heart, a smile to his face, and a softening of his demeanor. We are all grateful for the gift of Joanne in Fred’s life and ours.
A family celebration of Fred’s life and legacy will be held later this month. Donations at your pleasure to Whatcom Hospice Administration and Community (Home) Hospice Program, 2800 Douglas Ave. Bellingham, WA 98225, 360-734-5400