University News

Henry Obituary

May 4, 2021

Share |
Printer friendly version

MACOMB, IL – Western Illinois University Biology Professor Emeritus Robert Henry, 93, passed away May 1 in Macomb. Cremation rites have been accorded. There will be no services.

Henry taught botany in WIU's Department of Biological Sciences for 33 years, retiring in 1993 as professor emeritus. He joined the biology department in 1960 as an assistant professor. In addition to teaching botany classes, Henry was the curator of the herbarium at WIU beginning at 1977. Before joining Western's biological sciences department, he was an assistant professor at Ohio Wesleyan University and had also served as an assistant instructor at Ohio State.

During his tenure, he authored and co-authored numerous papers for professional journals, and was a member of many state, national and international botanical societies and organizations.

WIU Alumnus Gerald Lang established the Robert Henry Biological Sciences Award for Botany in 1993 because of Henry's impact on his education and career.

"I came to WIU in 1963 as a first-generation college student. The first college lecture I attended was delivered by Dr. Robert Henry. He walked into class with a leaf he had taken off a tree on his way to class and asked: 'Is this leaf dead or alive?' After some discussion (with no firm resolution), he stuck the leaf on a bulletin board and proceeded to deliver his class lecture from a single 3x5 note card. I was riveted by the question, his manner of engaging students, his command of the course material, and his style of delivery," Lang recalled in a recent Western Challenge release. "I was hooked. I chose to take every course Dr. Henry taught. His approach to transferring knowledge was powerful. I write this statement nearly 60 years later, with that first lecture still vividly imprinted in my mind. I modeled my own future teaching style to reflect that of Dr. Henry's. I even used his leaf story on occasion because of the power of its message."

Henry received his Ph.D. from Ohio State University, his master's degree from the University Of Illinois and his bachelor's from Ohio State.

He is survived by his wife, Alice. Memorials may be made to the Robert Henry Biological Sciences Award through the WIU Foundation.

Condolences may be left at

Posted By: University Communications (
Office of University Communications & Marketing