Harold Elmer Heninger
(1926 - 2016)
Our wonderful, hardworking, kind, patient father Harold Elmer Heninger passed away May 7, 2016 at the age of 90. He was born April 11, 1926 in Mendon, Utah to Matthew Elmer and Zelda Bird Heninger. He was raised in Mendon, which was a small close knit community where he had many relatives. Life in those days consisted of working hard and living off the land. His parents were devoutly religious; honest with integrity as well as helping all who were in need. His mother was a nurse and his father farmed and had other employment to help make ends meet. Harold and his brothers worked hard in the family garden and with their animals, hunted for food, and cut their own wood. Harold learned from his parents the attributes of hard work, patience, kindness, and helping those in need which followed him in his raising a family, employment, and service in the community.
Harold loved sports more than academics. He was one of the fastest runners and highest jumper in Cache County. He took second in the state high jump competition his senior year and still holds the South Cache High School record. He took part in school plays and other activities. Harold had an amazing memory, remembering names and dates of events until his death. He could name all his classmates and would enjoy talking to his sister Adele who also had the same memory of their growing up years, both the fun, hard work and fun loving pranks with his siblings. The family enjoyed many close family relationships both in Mendon with his mother’s family and Millville with his father’s. Harold worked hard in the family garden and with their animals as well as helping other relatives or working with his brothers for money.
World War II took his older brothers away, creating a lot of anxiety for his family and community. Harold joined the Navy when he turned 18 rather than being drafted. He began his naval service in landing craft boat training in San Diego and went into combat in the South Pacific. During his time in the Navy h e drove a landing craft, manned anti-aircraft guns, and worked as a signal man and sextant. At one point during the war Harold was able to locate and visit his brother Grant in a hospital at Guadalcanal. The war experiences placed a small town farm boy on a ship in the middle of the ocean and in a war. This was a world only read about in books, and trauma and atrocities' he never knew existed. A small Bible provided comfort when there was time to read it. He had many difficult experiences including the typhoon in 1945 which lasted for about two weeks in which his ship was the only one of the three ships that was in his small convoy that survived. His ship passed the USS Indianapolis just before it was sunk. He watched the B-29 bombers take off to drop the atomic bombs. Close calls with death were too numerous to count, as they were with most WWII vets. Okinawa was one of the experiences where the carnage haunted him his entire life, but he relied on his upbringing and faith in God to help ease the pain. It was mayhem, chaos, darkness in the day. His brothers Grant and Howard also experienced severe situations. He had no contact with his family during the war years. They didn't know if he was alive. After the War the brothers did not talk about it until later in life.
After the war, Harold attended Utah State Agricultural College. He was president of the Yellow Dog fraternity for one year, and president of Lambda Delta Sigma for two years. He arose at 3:30 a.m. to drive from Mendon to Utah State to make the famous Aggie Ice Cream and other dairy products. He lived at home to save money and worked hard during the summers to pay for school. His mother waited up for him to talk about his day. While Harold was in the war, his family had moved to Logan where his father began working at Utah State in the horticulture department and for the Cache National Forest. Harold graduated in Dairy Manufacturing and Industrial Management. He started working in Salt Lake City at the largest ice cream plant at that time, Colville Ice Cream. He then worked at Cloverleaf Dairy and then Pet Milk Company which was bought by Cream O’Weber. While at Cream O’Weber, he worked long hours in the day at the ice cream plant and drove their milk tanker to Tremonton and Richmond two to three nights a week. Harold later became the assistant plant manager of ice cream plant and then plant manager. Cream O’Weber later merged with Federated Dairy.
Despite his heavy work schedule he managed to find time to engage in social activities such as dancing at Lagoon and at the original Saltair. He eventually met his future wife Barbara Jean Meldrum and they married in the Logan LDS Temple February 20, 1953 and settled in downtown Salt Lake eventually building a home in the East Millcreek area where they had their three children.
When the Salt Palace in Salt Lake was originally built, it was on the property where the ice cream plant was located. This required the plant to be demolished. The Salt Lake ice cream plant then combined operations with the company’s ice cream plant in Ogden. This required Harold to commute to Ogden to work in the combined plant. After 20 years in the ice cream business, Harold was offered a job by Clearfield Cheese Company in Wellsville Utah where he worked for the next 18 years until Clearfield Cheese merged with Schreiber foods. Harold then took a Job from one of his former bosses, Bill Tate, to manage his cheese plant in Exeter California. This gave Harold another opportunity to show his brilliance as a designer, engineer, and plant Manager. He arrived on a Friday afternoon in Exeter at which time he promptly met with some of the plant mechanics and Bill’s son Hammer. For the next several hours stretching into the night they re-engineered the plant to make it more efficient and workable. They then spent the weekend rebuilding production lines and rearranging the building to make it operate properly. By Monday morning at 10:00 am they started their first production line. Despite the plant having been opened for five years, six different managers had failed to get a complete shift to run for more than a week. After three months with Harold at the helm, the factory was running 3 full shifts round the clock in production. His brilliance, ingenuity, and managerial skills continued even after his retirement in 1991. Harold and Barbara moved back to Utah to be with their families and first granddaughter.
After moving to Cottonwood Heights his ambition continued in several endeavors like cold fusion at Research Park and consulting on plant production management. In 2002, his beloved Barbara was diagnosed with dementia. Harold retired again to take care of his treasured wife. Harold spent five long years giving 24/7 care for every need Barbara had, before she passed to a better place. He loved her deeply and missed her greatly. He is now rejoined with her.
Harold served in many callings in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints such as Home Teacher, Elders Quorum Presidencies, Teacher, Stake Sunday School Presidency, and Ward Clerk in two different Wards. Harold loved people and enjoyed sharing conversations with strangers about life. Harold looked for opportunities to help someone in need including neighbors and friends. He was always willing to share his God given talents with others. Harold tried hard to teach others about life, his skills, and loving family. He was known to brag about his children and grandchildren. He and Barbara often said that their greatest accomplishment was their children and grandchildren. Harold will be missed by his family and friends. We will miss the wonderful stories he would tell.
Harold is survived by his children, Dr. Michael (Suzanne) Heninger, Atlanta, GA; Carolyn Heninger, Salt Lake City; Scott (Sirena) Heninger, Layton; grandchildren, Camilia, Jeffrey, McKenna (Nick) Drysdale, Rylan, Sam, and Josh; sisters, LaPrele (Einar) Hall, East Millcreek and Naomi (Lonell) Burton, Ogden.
Graveside Services will be May 21, 2016, 11:00 a.m. at the Mendon City Cemetery, Mendon, Utah.
The family would like to thank the Intermountain Medical Center, 9 th floor doctors and nursing staff for their wonderful and kind care they provide.