Kenneth A. Henry, a lifelong Eden Valley farmer and founder of Kenneth Henry and Sons Greenhouses, died Friday (Oct. 9) at his Hamburg home surrounded by his family after a long illness. He was 87.
Mr. Henry was born in his parents' home in Eden and attended Hamburg High School.
Mr. Henry was the organist at St. Paul's Lutheran Church of Eden for 58 years. When he was young, he was trained by the internationally acclaimed organist Hans Vigeland of Westminster Church in Buffalo.
At St. Paul's, he maintained the town of Eden's only pipe organ, dating to 1949, and was a director of the church choirs and taught Sunday School for many years.
A vegetable and greenhouse grower for his entire life, Mr. Henry also was a founding member of the Eden Valley Growers Cooperative. He also was a member of the Erie County Farm Bureau and active in the Clinton Bailey Market, selling vegetables there.
He was an avid pilot for over 60 years, flying until last summer. He was a member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. He also was a longtime member of the Hamburg Flying Knights Remote Control Club and a member of the Academy of Model Aeronautics.
Mr. Henry also was an amateur inventor designing a winter air sled, the forerunner of today's snowmobile.
He also invented other vegetable handling equipment for other Eden Valley farmers, such as a hamper carrier that enabled farm workers to carry two baskets out of the fields at a time. Mr. Henry also invented a vegetable washer as well as various hand tools used for seeding and transplanting in greenhouse work.
He was one of the first in the Eden Valley to build a Cornell-designed double-poly greenhouse, the early wood frame greenhouses that were commonly used in the area.
A favorite hobby of his was woodworking. He enjoyed making cabinets and furniture, also making a lot of toys for his grandchildren. For the past 15 years, he made more than 20 Christmas nutcrackers a year for his children and grandchildren.
He also enjoyed traveling to Switzerland to visit his relatives.
Mr. Henry is survived by his wife of 60 years, the former Ellen J. Eckhardt; two brothers, Calvin and Lowell; a daughter, Joyce O'Gorman, and sons, Peter and Martin; and ten grandchildren.
A funeral service will be held at 3 p.m. Monday at St. Paul's Lutheran Church, 3487 North Boston Road in Eden.