Henry A. Behrnd
Henry passed away September 29, 2012, at the age of 96, after a long life filled with a love of learning and an interest and enthusiasm for many things, which he freely shared. He was a kind, gentle, and private man, in many ways a Renaissance man with eclectic tastes. Henry was born on May 11, 1916 to Charles and Emma (Stehr) Behrnd at the family home on West Mifflin Street in Madison. He grew up on Mifflin and Drake Streets and graduated from West High School. Henry served in the Civilian Conservation Corps during the 1930s and in the U.S. Army during World War II, landing on Omaha Beach, Normandy, France. Later he worked in construction and for the University of Wisconsin, finishing his career as a conservator-craftsman at the Elvehjem (now Chazen) Museum of Art, where he was very proud to work. While at the Elvehjem, he studied with expert art conservators and taught himself by practicing on paintings he bought at garage sales. Throughout his life, Henry prized fine craftsmanship and had immense patience and love for doing painstaking, detailed work. He loved nature. As a young man, he enjoyed hunting and shooting, ice skating, fishing, hunting arrowheads, fossils, and rocks. He filled his own shotgun shells and rifle cartridges. He loved to walk in the woods, pick wild grapes in the fall, collect hickory nuts, see the constellations, and watch birds. In later years, he loved working in his flower garden, researching and writing local history, working as a dedicated volunteer at Meriter Hospital and Oakwood, learning to do archival work to share another activity with his daughter, and continuing to clean and restore paintings for his favorite customers, who remember him fondly. He loved music, singing, and literature, reading everything from Greek classics to science to science fiction to history to suspense novels to poetry. Henry especially loved learning new things. He took college and correspondence courses as he could, but, eternally curious, he could learn and do almost anything after reading about it and practicing a bit. He loved making (and sampling) wine with family members; he collected stamps and coins, caned chairs, experimented with local plants to dye yarn for his Navajo weavings, enjoyed using the Mayan counting system, worked as a real estate broker, did needlepoint, and made stained glass, all mostly self-taught. He loved show tunes, jazz and Big Band music; going to auctions, military history and biographies, chocolate, and his beloved Green Bay Packers, teaching his daughter football while watching the Lombardi teams. (We think he personally pushed that New Orleans field goal attempt wide left on Sunday to help the Packers win!)
Henry married twice, to Evelyn Heber, and to Anne Baumgartner, both of whom predeceased him, as did his parents, four brothers and sisters, and a dear friend, B. He is survived by two daughters, Menzi (Gerry), whom he loved deeply and was enormously proud of, and Barbara (Bob), with whom he was happy to reunite late in life after a long separation; nieces, nephews, and other family members.
Our thanks to the compassionate and kind nursing staff at Hebron Hall, and especially to Dr. Deborah Boushea and the wonderful Gail Gaustad, R.N. for giving Henry such good care and 3 ½ additional quality years of life, health, and happiness. Memorials in Henry’s honor may be made to the University of Wisconsin Foundation for the Chazen Museum of Art, or the Oakwood Foundation, both Madison, Wisconsin.
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