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Former Bellerose banker succumbs to lung cancer

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Henson, 64, had been battling lung cancer. At a wake held...

By Michael Morton

Edward Henson, a former president of the Jamaica Savings Bank and a sports lover known for his charity work in eastern Queens, died at his home in Nassau County March 15, a family member said.

Henson, 64, had been battling lung cancer. At a wake held March 19 at St. Aidan’s Church in Williston Park, friends, family and colleagues remembered Henson as an affable but modest man who had a special ability to make personal connections.

“He was very charismatic,” said his sister Arline Henson of Mineola, L.I. “Just about everybody liked him.”

Born in Brooklyn but raised in Rosedale, Henson served in the Air Force in the late 1950s, his sister said. After he was discharged he enrolled at the American Institute of Banking and earned a degree from Brown University’s Graduate School of Banking before taking a job as a teller at the Jamaica Savings Bank.

From that entry-level job he rose to become president of the bank in 1990 and a member of its board. Henson retired after Jamaica Savings Bank was bought by North Fork Savings Bank in 1999.

Although he ended up living in East Williston, Henson maintained ties to eastern Queens his entire life. After returning from his Air Force duty, he and his then new wife, Juanita Henson, lived in Bellerose during the 1970s.

It was there that Henson volunteered as a coach for the youth athletic teams sponsored by St. Gregory the Great, the couple’s local parish.

It was a perfect fit for Henson, whose sister recalled the athletic prowess that began as a child.

“He was like a spider,” Arline Henson said of his early days as a baseball infielder.

Later the 6-foot-4-inch Henson played basketball for the Air Force but eventually focused on golf, whittling down his handicap to an 11, his sister said.

Of his volunteer coaching, Arline Henson said, “he enjoyed sharing it with the kids,” adding that it was only one of the ways her brother gave back to the community.

Even after moving from Bellerose, he continued to help fund-raise for the Little Sisters of the Poor in Queens Village, where the nuns “adored him,” his sister said.

A fellow fund-raAt a fund-raiser last fall, she said Henson “looked tired but he still had a big smile on his face. He apologized for not selling more raffle tickets.”

Lang attended the wake and said she was surprised at how many people showed up, including commentator Sean Hannity of Fox News Channel’s “Hannity and Colmes,” who she said was related to Henson.

Those gathered for the memorial recalled a number of stories about Henson’s helping them out, often by loaning his own money, Lang said. But Henson was not one to publicize his kindness, she said.

“He had this incredible depth that you never saw until the wake,” Lang said.

Henson was buried at the Cemetery of the Holy Rood in Westbury, Arline Henson said. Besides his wife and sister, he is survived by five children, four siblings and 12 grandchildren. Most of his survivors live outside the state, but a daughter, Maritza Hernandez, lives in Glendale.

Reach reporter Michael Morton by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by calling 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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