Friends who came to pay their final respects wore cheerful colors, especially pink, to the memorial service Saturday in honor of Gregory “Greg” Henry.
Mr. Henry, 51, was the principal at Sierra Pacific High in Hanford. He died last week of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, which shocked the community.
He famously wore a pink shirt to school at least once a week. When he got the job at the high school, one he coveted, he had several custom shirts made to carry on the brightly colored shirt tradition he had established as principal at Pioneer Middle School in Hanford.
To accommodate the number of people who knew Mr. Henry, the memorial service was held at Golden Eagle Arena on the West Hills College Lemoore campus.
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Mr. Henry graduated in 1983 from Hanford High, where he played water polo and golf.
He married at age 20, graduated from Fresno Pacific University in 1999 and became a math teacher. He later got an advanced degree at Chapman University.
He and his wife, Linda, who he met while working at a grocery store in Hanford and married six months later, had three children, Nikki, Connor and Lauren. He also is survived by two grandchildren.
There are thousands of students who knew Greg. Greg will live through them.
Bobby Peters, director of learning at Hanford Joint Union High School District
As a teacher and administrator, he knew the names of all his students, said high school Superintendent William Fishbough.
“He didn’t have to look it up on a computer,” he said.
Before the eulogy by Mr. Henry’s pastor, four Sierra Pacific High students played the national anthem on saxophones.
Pastor Bruce Kane of The Epic Church said Mr. Henry appeared to have a normal day on Monday. He even bought batteries and creamer at the store.
“Greg Henry was greater than his worst decision,” Kane said. “His legacy deserves to be preserved.”
John Raven, principal at Pioneer Middle School, said that when he first met Mr. Henry, “I didn’t know anything about him except he liked brightly colored shirts.”
But as they got to be friends and colleagues, “he always talked about his students” – and he loved his children.
“You were his heart. He loved you all so dearly,” Raven said, addressing the family.
At Pioneer, Mr. Henry would read the announcements over the loudspeaker and always end with a signature phrase: “Make it a great day or not – the choice is yours.”
Bobby Peters, director of learning at Hanford Joint Union High School District, said Mr. Henry was a prankster whose playfulness had a purpose the staff and students appreciated.
“He created an atmosphere where work and play could co-habitate,” he said. Deep down, “he just wanted to be one of the guys.”
Please remember him as a guy who cared – his well-wishing and humor as he asked you about your day.
Michael Mayer, high school friend
Peters said Mr. Henry’s generosity extended to students.
When a student’s parent’s car broke down, he pulled the child out of class and gave him a new bicycle so he could get to school, he said.
“There are thousands of students who knew Greg,” he said. “Greg will live through them.”
Former student Sammy Springer said Mr. Henry “made such a personal effort to connect to every student. … He preached to his students to have the courage to try something new. … He made a lifelong impact on every one of us.”
Sierra Pacific senior Kaitlyn Ignacio said she came to Pioneer as an eighth-grader knowing no one, but Mr. Henry said hello to her.
“He even introduced me to some kids who became lifelong friends,” she said. “I know a lot of us are seeking closure today. … Just by seeing so many people wearing bright colors here today … I know we’re all going to be OK.”
But why Mr. Henry took his own life remains a mystery.
His high school friend Michael Mayer said, “We haven’t made sense of it, and we’re all still in shock.”
Mr. Henry was found dead Monday in his pickup along a dirt road in a rural area near Hanford.
There is no indication he had been involved in anything criminal, both the Kings County Sheriff’s Department and Hanford police said.
The Sheriff’s Department said he texted his family that he didn’t want to put them through a personnel investigation and was saying goodbye.
That text message prompted his family to seek police help in finding him.
“Please remember him as a guy who cared – his well-wishing and humor as he asked you about your day,” Mayer said.