Henry Denny: In Memoriam

Shawn and John Hamilton, Henry J. Denny

Henry J. Denny, the teacher through whom I met White Bear, died at his home on Friday, April 24th  in Chino Valley, Arizona. He was 79.

In the late 1970s Henry was my high school history and anthropology teacher at Loara High School in Anaheim, California. I was not conforming well to the social pressures of high school, and Henry made life much easier for me—by talking to my other teachers and even starting a class specifically for me and a few other students that used Edgar Cayce’s book on Atlantis as its textbook.

Henry recognised certain skills or talents in me that I didn’t know I possessed, allowing me to give talks to all of his classes on such unconventional topics as the social commentaries of comedian-activist, Dick Gregory. Those experiences contributed to my having become reasonably comfortable and proficient as a public speaker.

As an anthropology teacher, Henry escorted some of my classmates and me to Silverado Canyon, where we dug marine fossils out of cliffs. That really drove home the fact that this part of southern California had once been under water. Henry’s classes were fun—and more genuinely educational the most of my other classes. He provided a model of the “ideal teacher” that I have tried to live up to in my own teaching career.

This was the context in which Henry introduced me to White Bear during the summers of 1977 and 1978. What I’m calling the “Kásskara” series on the Hopi is a direct result of Henry’s influence. Henry is proof that one well-intended teacher can make a major difference in the life of a student.

Henry also served as a surrogate grandfather to my son, John, whose biological grandfathers had died before his birth. He always remembered John on his birthdays and sent him gifts for Christmas.

I really appreciate what Henry did for me and others over the decades, and I’m so happy he was able to see the “Kásskara” series published before his transition!

I sure will miss him!

Shawn Hamilton, Sacramento, CA

26 April 2020

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