In Memoriam

Jack Henning '38, former undersecretary of labor for presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson and the leader of the California Labor Federation for 26 years, died June 4 in San Francisco. He was 93.

Mr. Henning was at the forefront of labor issues since he graduated from Saint Mary's in 1938 and worked with the Association of Catholic Unionists in San Francisco. He joined the United Federal Workers of the CIO and was a member of the boilermakers in San Francisco.

He was named director of California's Department of Industrial Relations in 1959, and helped Kennedy in his presidential campaign, which led to his appointment as undersecretary of labor, his son, Dan Henning '76, said. Jack Henning remained undersecretary of labor under Johnson, who later appointed him ambassador to New Zealand.

Mr. Henning returned to San Francisco with his family of seven children when President Richard Nixon took office in 1969. From 1970 to 1996, he led the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO as its executive secretary-treasurer.

"He had a distinguished career as a public servant and a keen interest in promoting social justice," Brother President Ronald Gallagher said. "We are very proud of his many associations with Saint Mary's College."

"Jack was a lion of a man and a great labor leader," said Art Pulaski, current executive secretary-treasurer of the California Labor Federation. "His vision and his magnificent oratory inspired several generations of union activists."

Dan Henning said his father developed those oratorical skills at Saint Mary's under the legendary speaker Brother Z. Leo. "My dad credits the Christian Brothers for all the abilities he had. The ability to learn public speaking from Brother Leo enabled my father to get those distinguished jobs."

Jack Henning was also the personal secretary to famed football coach Slip Madigan. His interest in sports led him to recruit the great basketball player Tom Meschery ‘61 to Saint Mary's. Meschery played 10 seasons in the NBA and is in the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame.

"I think Jack Henning was probably the principal closer in recruiting," Meschery said. "He's responsible for me going to Saint Mary's because he made such a lasting impression on my mother. He had a very deep, abiding love of the College and considered himself available to help them every way he could."

Mr. Henning's family connections to Saint Mary's go back to the College's earliest days in San Francisco in the 1860s, when his great-grandfather graduated, Dan Henning said. Three of Mr. Henning's sons, John Jr. '62, Dan and Tom '77, graduated from SMC.

Randy Andrada '73 said Mr. Henning's commitment to social justice and labor stemmed from the traditions of the Christian Brothers and the Catholic view of the dignity of man and work.

"He understood the Great Books. He understood that philosophy and the ethics had to be lived in the day-to-day, rough-and-tumble world that we all deal with," Andrada said.

He supported the United Farm Workers, campaigned to pass the groundbreaking Agricultural Labor Relations Act in 1975 and led the campaign to restore Cal-OSHA and reform the state worker's compensation system.

Mr. Henning was a former member of Saint Mary's Board of Trustees and a past executive director of the California Catholic Conference.

Mr. Henning's wife, Marguerite, died in 1994. Mr. Henning is survived by children, John Jr., Brian, Patrick, Nancy, Dan, Thomas and Mary; 10 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

– Erin Hallissy


  • Ramiro V. Asencio '78
  • Lori R. Bonilla EE '83
  • Robert E. Buckley Sr. '52
  • Clarence A. Cagney, Jr. '50
  • Michael C. Davis EE '88
  • Consuelo L. Enriquez EE '88
  • Jacqueline Fielding P '80
  • John Frei '51
  • Michael Gable '92
  • Rose Garcia '01
  • John "Jack" Gleeson '52
  • David Haffner '95
  • Thad A. Hallock MBA '04
  • Gerald L. Henderson '62
  • Deborah L. Holmes EE '89
  • Albert Horton '49
  • Kathleen Hubbard EE '04
  • Jean D. Jackson EE '82
  • John A. Keane '42
  • William C. Keating, Jr. '42
  • Robert J. Klatt '43
  • Anthony A. Lagorio '53
  • Robert W. Langford '52
  • Bing Lee '93
  • Richard LeSage '71
  • Oscar J. Lumpkin, Jr. '59
  • Richard "Rich" Masar '61
  • Tony Mason '64
  • Robert J. McAndrews '32
  • Jane Monroe '74
  • Rebecca A. Moore ECR '07
  • Charles Michael Oden '69
  • James B. O'Hara '79
  • Gerald Parker '50
  • Fr. Stan F. Parmisano, O.P. '47
  • John F. Rodden '73
  • Stephen A. Stringer-Smith '70
  • William J. Timmings '39
  • Donald Waldemar '51

Family and Friends

  • E. John Ainsworth
  • Sebastian Barbagallo
  • George Bastian, father of Edwin Bastian '76
  • Edmond J. Bowman
  • Paul J. Burke, grandfather of Bryan Vargas '03
  • John A. Buschini
  • Russell Craig
  • Robert J. Foley
  • Joan E. Fox
  • Lee Glasgow
  • Richard Granzella
  • Joan C. Halbert
  • Harold J. "Bill" Haynes
  • Donald Linggi, brother-in-law of Richard Klutz '68
  • Joseph Loudon
  • Mary Nicoli
  • Richard A. Parodi
  • John E. Pond Jr.
  • Peggy Quontamatteo
  • Marie A. Sabatte
  • Stuart M. Schmucker
  • Ralph Spiegl
  • John A. Stohr, Jr.
  • Dorothy Weiss
  • Gladys Zeman
  • Theodore Zeman

Saint Mary's magazine runs the names of recently deceased alumni, Christian Brothers and friends who have given to Saint Mary's. Names of other friends of the College, as well as family members of alumni, faculty and staff, appear in the online version of the magazine.