With deep sorrow, the Henry and Clarke families announce the death of Mrs. Annette C. Henry.
A dedicated public administrator, educator, businesswoman and civil servant, Mrs. Henry was committed to serving others and improving opportunities for women and children. She was 79.
She died peacefully at her home in Bethesda, Maryland on January 14.
“Mommy’s passing hurts us deeply,” says her son Tanu Henry, who lives in New York. “What comforts us now is embracing the memories and lessons she leaves with us. To treat everyone with respect. To keep an open mind and never stop learning. To trust in God. That it is more important to give than to receive. That humility is strength and to always be grateful for what you have.”
“Nettie,” “Net,” “Sister” or “Mrs. H,” as many of her loved ones nicknamed her, was born on June 1, 1939 in the township of Arthington in Liberia.
She attended high school at the Suehn Mission School where her mother, Louise Hill Clarke, served as a teacher and her father, Ned Richard Clarke, worked as a carpenter. After high school, she matriculated to Cuttington University in Liberia where she obtained her bachelor’s degree.
After college, she became a teacher with the Monrovia Consolidated School System. She also worked as a clerk at the Ministry of Labor before attending Springfield College in Massachusetts, where she obtained her master’s in Public Administration.
In 1966, she returned to Liberia where she married Robert G. Henry who was also an educator and Principal of the Joseph Jenkins Roberts Elementary School. They met as students at Cuttington University in Liberia and kept in touch through letters during her graduate school years. He was a graduate student at Indiana University during their courtship.
The Henrys had three children: Florence, Robert, Jr., and Tanu. In 1971, the family settled on Weaver Street (now A.B.Tolbert Road) a then-remote and sparsely populated suburb of Monrovia with wide-open grassy fields, marshy swampland and newly constructed homes. There, they built a house – helping to dig the foundation of it themselves. The area became a close-knit community of extended “family” that included the Tarpehs, Langfords, Brewers, Bests, Taylors, Richards, Acquis, Lavalas, Reeves, Stewarts, among so many other families.
In 1970, she returned to the United States and completed post-graduate professional studies at the United States Department of Agriculture in Washington, DC. She also did post-baccalaureate coursework in Berlin, Germany while her brother, Edwin J. Clarke worked there with the Liberian Foreign Service.
Mrs. Henry served in several roles in her professional life including Human Resources Administrator at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center in Liberia when it first opened.
She went on to serve as Registrar at Cuttington College before joining the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) in 1978. There, she rose to the position of Senior Assistant Registrar. With WAEC, she attended conferences all over the region representing Liberia, strengthening cooperation and standardizing requirements.
In 1985, she accepted a position as Director of Administration at the Liberian Produce Marketing Corporation where she worked before joining the African Development Foundation (ADF), a United States Federal Government international agency. She was the organization’s Country Liaison Officer for Liberia. In that role, she traveled to villages and towns throughout rural Liberia soliciting grant proposals and administering direct U.S. Government aid to Non-Profits and Non-Governmental Organizations.
Mrs. Henry was also a board officer and a founding member of the Alpha Cooperative School, a K-6 learning center in Sinkor, Liberia.
After the Liberian civil war began in 1990, she moved to Washington, DC and continued to work at the Washington office of the ADF as a contractor until 1997. After that, she took on a number of temp jobs and part-time assignments in Montgomery County near Washington through the Jewish Council of the Aging until she retired in 2004.
In Liberia, she was an active member of the Liberian Businesswomen Association. She also started several of her own businesses — including a bakery and retail store — under a sole proprietorship titled Del’s Enterprises.
Mrs. Henry was born and baptized into the African Methodist Episcopal Church but later followed her husband to become an active member of the United Methodist Church. She believed in the power of prayer and wrote a journal of poems about life with themes that included the joys and power serving God and living in the spirit. She was treasurer, Mother of the Year (1989) and member of the Women’s Department of Tubman United Methodist Church in Paynesville.
Mrs. Henry is survived by her children: Florence Henry, Robert Henry, Jr., and Tanu Henry who all live in the United States. Also mourning her loss are her siblings Joetta Dennis, Sandra Monger and Ralph Clarke who live in the United States, and Joanna Glay of Paynesville, Liberia. Her husband, Robert G. Henry and elder brother Edwin J. Clarke predeceased her. Other close relatives include members of the Clarkes, Mongers, Glays, Coles, Masons, Boakais, Richards, Warners, Tarpehs, Kuyons, Yorks and so many other families in the United States and Liberia.