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Martinsburg to honor Henry

Fundraising drive underway to erect memorial for community leader

MARTINSBURG — A fund drive is underway in Martinsburg to honor the late W. Gene Henry for his many contributions to the community.

Henry, who died Feb. 17 at the age of 88, lived most of his life in Martinsburg and was best known for giving aid to many area organizations.

Borough council members recently appointed a committee to spearhead fundraising efforts to place a permanent memorial for Henry on the vacant ground along East Allegheny Street near the borough building.

The committee includes Mayor Richard Brantner, Councilman Chuck Kensinger, Joe Logan of Morrisons Cove Memorial Park, Herb Whitfield of Martinsburg Volunteer Fire Company and Bill Replogle of the Fairview Cemetery Association.

“I am in my seventh decade living in Martinsburg, I can tell you of many people who gave to this community of their time, their talents and financially. None of that is to be put aside, but I don’t know of anybody who has given financially the way Gene had and there is a good chance there never will be,” Kensinger said. “Gene needs to be recognized and he needs to be remembered for all he’s done for Martinsburg.”

Henry, who taught school in the Altoona Area School District for 25 years and became principal at Baker Elementary School, “was always giving,” Brantner said.

In 1959, Henry founded the W. Gene Henry Mobile Home Parks in Martinsburg, which included the Spring Drive and Stone Manor parks, and continued that business until March 2020.

In memory of his parents and grandparents, he constructed and donated the present Martinsburg Borough Building and police station in 2010.

Henry donated the land to build the Martinsburg EMS building in 2006 and, in 2020, he donated the money for the new Martinsburg Volunteer Fire Company building, in memory of his family.

“Gene had done so much for the community, the money he donated to so many organizations. He saved the taxpayers a lot of money from what he donated. He was always giving, behind the scenes he gave a lot to people,” Brantner said.

Even in death, Henry remembered his beloved community by directing $1 million from his estate be donated to Morrisons Cove Memorial Park in his memory and that of his family.

He also directed in his will that $1 million from his estate be given to the Martinsburg Fairview Cemetery Association Perpetual Care Fund in memory of his parents and grandparents.

“There are so many organizations that benefited, a lot of things got done because of him that wouldn’t have got done,” Brantner said of Henry’s generosity.

A bronze plaque to memorialize Henry will include his photo and information on his contributions to his community.

The committee hopes to raise about $10,000 for the memorial to be placed on a granite pedestal foundation. So far, about $4,000 has been raised for the project.

The plaque has been ordered and fundraising for the pedestal is ongoing, organizers said.

“We hope to get it ordered by the end of the year,” Kensinger said of the pedestal, adding it will take about six months to come in.

Kensinger said the memorial committee is not going to businesses and not using taxpayer money for the project. Instead, “the intent is for the community in some way to remember Gene and give back to what he has done for the community. Soliciting money would go against what we are trying to do, it is important we do something to remember him. We want people to give from the heart.”

Donations to the W. Gene Henry Memorial Fund can be sent to the borough office, 110 S. Walnut St., Martinsburg, PA 16662.

The committee hopes to have the funds needed for the memorial by the end of the year.

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 814-946-7467.

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