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Henry, Paul B. (1943-1993) | Heritage Hall, Hekman Library

Name: Henry, Paul B. (1943-1993)

Historical Note:

Paul Bernard Henry (b. Chicago, IL, 9 Jul 1943; d. Grand Rapids, MI, 31 Jul 1993) was the son of theologian Carl Henry, former editor of Christianity Today.  He married Karen in August of 1965 after both had graduated from Wheaton College.  They had three children: Kara, Jordan, and Megan.  Henry served as a Peace Corps volunteer from 1963-1965 in Ethiopia and Liberia.  In 1968 and 1969 he served as a legislative assistant to Representative John B. Anderson from Illinois.  Then he went to Duke University where he earned his MA and PhD degrees.  In 1970 he joined the faculty at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  During the time he was teaching at Calvin, he was named Kent County Republican Party Chairman. In August 1975 Governor William Milliken appointed him to the Michigan State Board of Education.  Henry became Republican Chairman of the Fifth Congressional District in February 1977.

In 1978 Henry was elected to serve in the Michigan House of Representatives succeeding Peter Kok.  His Democratic opponent in the election that year was John Falicki.  Henry served for a time as State Campaign Director for John B. Anderson’s GOP presidential bid in 1979-1980.  After successfully defending his Michigan seat in 1980 against the Democratic challenger, F. Lange Montfort, Henry ran for the seat in the Michigan Senate vacated by Democrat Stephen Monsma, a fellow Calvin College Political Science faculty member.  He successfully defeated John Ottabacher in a vigorous campaign.

Henry defeated Gary McInerney for the seat of retiring 5th district Congressman Harold Sawyer in 1984.  A string of successful campaigns for re-election against Terry Decker in 1986, James Catchick in 1988, Tom Trzybinski in 1990, and Carol Kooistra in 1992 kept Henry in office until his death.  Yet another Calvin College professor, Vernon Ehlers, succeeded Henry in the 5th district seat.  Elected to five terms and completing 8½ years in Congress, Henry served on three Congressional Committees:  Educational and Labor; Science, Space and Technology; and the Committee on Aging. His political career reflects the role a Christian can play in politics.

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