Donald Edward Thomas Henson of San Diego, son of (late) Edward Joseph Henson and (late) Alice Cecelia (Giblin) Henson, passed away peacefully on June 10, 2020 with his family close by his side.
He was born July 23, 1943 in Providence, Rhode Island and attended Hope High School where he played both hockey and tennis from 1959-61. After a post graduate year at Kimball Union Academy in Meriden, New Hampshire, he attended University of Vermont on a hockey scholarship, played tennis for the Catamounts and was a proud member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity. It was there that Don met the love his life, Marianne “Marcie” Card of Baltimore. Don and Marcie were married on Jan. 28, 1967 at Cathedral of Mary our Queen in Baltimore. They settled in Rhode Island and created their family of four children.
Don began his life work as a teaching tennis professional and coach at 17 years old for the Rhode Island Tennis Organization’s summer club at Brown University’s Aldritch Dexter courts. In the fall of 1966 Don became the assistant tennis pro at the famed Indoor Court in East Providence. The next 18 years saw Don teach in and around the Rhode Island area. He built and owned two clubs, the Centre Court in Riverside and later, The Tennis Center in Johnston. Both were well known for producing great junior players and for hosting a variety of national and international tournaments. Don was named New England “Pro of the Year” on three different occasions. He served 12 years on the New England Professional Tennis Association board, two as president.
During the late 70’s and early 80’s, however, Don began dreaming of moving his family to Southern California after visiting several times for tournaments and conferences. In 1984 Don took a position as the director of the historic Balboa Tennis Club in San Diego and moved his family to Coronado. From 1987-1994, Don was Director of Tennis at Murrietta Hot Springs Resort and Enchantment Resort, Sedona, Arizona. He was the resident tennis professional at Coronado Cays for over 10 years
He accelerated his involvement with the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA). Don was a national tester for the USPTA since 1971 under the guidance and mentoring of the late George Basco, USPTA Master Professional. He travelled extensively on the west coast representing the USPTA, giving schools and seminars for tennis teachers as well as administering the USPTA certification exam. This work also brought Don down to Mexico and involved numerous excursions to South Korea, Hong Kong, Macau, and mainland China. Don was one of the original 18 USPTA Master Professionals, was president of and awarded “Pro of the Year” for the New England, San Diego, and California chapters of the USPTA. Don founded the Tennis Teachers Institute in 2011 which was his final tennis passion project, “to provide a comprehensive educational and resource center for teachers and coaches of tennis” with it’s mission to, “furnish tennis coaches the tools and knowledge that will allow them to be more effective on the courts.” Don was inducted into the New England Professional Tennis Hall of Fame in 2017 at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island.
On Easter Sunday 1993, Don walked into St Stephen’s Church of God in Christ in San Diego to hear some gospel music. He soon knew that he was home and matriculated through the Interdenominational Theology Center to receive his Certificate of Theology in 2001 and proudly served as a Deacon at St. Stephen’s, which prepared him for the ministry that awaited, “the ministry of teaching raggedy young athletes about the greatness that lies within them, and that with commitment and desire and fervent prayer, they can be more than they ever dreamed.”
Don is survived by his children Donovan “Scooter’ (Catherine) Henson of Coronado, Patrick (Yenny) Henson of Melbourne, Australia, Carlin (Robert) Reardon of Murrietta, CA and Seanan (Michael) McGrath of Coronado; nine grandchildren, Sean Reardon, Kyle Reardon, Patrick Henson, Riley McGrath, Katelyn McGrath, Donovan Henson, McKenna Reardon, Colin McGrath, and Marsilius Henson; cousins David Burns, Joseph Giblin, Jean Giblin West, and Robert Molyneaux. He was preceded in death by his sister Alice-Rose Henson of Chicago.
A celebration of Don’s life was held in Providence, R.I. on June 29, and others will be held at St. Stephen’s Church of God in Christ, San Diego, July 11 at 11 a.m., and at Burbank Tennis Center, Los Angeles, date to be determined.
“The Lord has given you a song, continue to sing it. Let your light shine on everyone you touch so that they might get a glimpse of the glory of God.” – Bishop George D. McKinney, St Stephens Church of God in Christ