Robert D. Hennigan, 92, of Skaneateles died peacefully on October 12, 2017. He was predeceased by his wife, Ginny (Egan) Hennigan, in 2004.
Bob Hennigan was a doer. Whether in his professional, civic, spiritual, or family life he exerted commitment and confident leadership. At his retirement celebration a professional colleague humorously described him as “Occasionally wrong, but never in doubt.” Bob welcomed such comments as he exemplified Teddy Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena”.
A depression toddler, Bob was born in Syracuse and received his primary and secondary schooling at Most Holy Rosary and Christian Brothers Academy. Like many of his generation, Bob spent his late teenage years on the battlefields of Europe. A field promotion to Staff Sergeant presented his first serious leadership experience and developed his instinct to challenge authority. He honed that instinct throughout his life and imparted it to his children (Occasionally to his regret.)
Educated @ Manhattan College following the war and later at SU’s Maxwell Graduate School, Bob enjoyed a long and consequential professional career. He spent his first eighteen professional years with the NYS Department of Health in several positions. During his tenure he was the principal architect of the Rockefeller “Pure Waters Program”, which laid the groundwork for the 1972 Federal Clean Water Act.
Bob spent his final twenty-five professional years with the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Joining the faculty as the Director of the SUNY Water Resources Center, he served in a number of administrative positions retiring in 1993 as Chair of the Environmental Studies Faculty. He educated a generation of engineers, problem solvers, and civic leaders whose subsequent influence stretches far beyond the ESF campus.
Bob also served in numerous civic and professional leadership roles while at ESF. These included Executive Director of the State Commission on the Water Supply Needs of Southeastern NY, Chair of a number of Onondaga Lake committees, Chair of the Onondaga County Environmental Management Council, Chair of the County Water Quality Management Agency, and Executive Director of the NY Water Environment Association.
Bob’s made his best decision when he married Ginny Egan in 1950. She enabled his professional success and together they provided a loving, stimulating, and fun household. Their greatest achievement was raising two daughters and six sons whose teenage years spanned the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Talk about commitment and confident leadership! They employed both while deftly guiding that crew through their journey to adulthood.
Bob eventually displayed the same commitment and leadership guiding Ginny through her ten year battle with Alzheimer’s.
He is survived by two daughters, Patricia Hennigan of Westvale, NY and Karen (Jeff) Janson of Newburyport, MA, six sons, Robert (Margie-deceased) of Rensselaer, NY, Joseph (Mary Ellen) of Skaneateles, NY, Peter (Sue) of Hampton, NH, Bill (Moira) of Glenmont, NY, Dan of Manlius, NY and Christopher (Buffie) of Indian Land, SC, twenty-two grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
Calling hours will be held on Thursday, October 19th from 4 to 7 at Robert D. Gray Funeral Home, Skaneateles. A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. on Friday, October 20th, at St. Mary's of the Lake Church, Skaneateles. Burial will follow in St. Mary's Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be made to The Robert D. and Virginia E. Hennigan Scholarship Fund, ESF College Foundation, 315-470-6683, www.esf.edu.
To send condolences visit: robertdgrayfuneralhome.com.