Obituary of William Henigbaum
An honored veteran of WWII and of classical music, William Henigbaum, departed on December 19, 2017 to play in the heavenly orchestra. Born April 26, 1921 in Davenport, Iowa, Bill passed away peacefully at home in Sylva, NC, attended by daughters Cathy and Jane. He lived his 96 years with a passion for playing the violin, conducting orchestras, teaching students, and playing golf. His mother, Helen Gobble Henigbaum, was a concert pianist. His father, William Klemm Henigbaum, was treasurer of the Tri-City Symphony, Davenport, and his brother Jack played French horn in the Tri-City, Chicago and Atlanta Symphonies. At age 14, Bill joined the Tri-City Symphony (now Quad-City Symphony). He retired from that orchestra after 50 years, serving as concert master and assistant concert master, after which the chair of assistant concert master was endowed in his name. He also conducted the Clinton Symphony (IA), the Augustana College Orchestra (IL), directed the Friends of Chamber Music (IL) and was a long-time member of the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra (Chicago, IL). One of his most treasured golf honors was beating the Iowa State Golf Champion, Joe Von Maur, in the first round of a Rock Island Arsenal club tournament when he was just 16.
First Lieutenant, then Captain William Henigbaum served in the army as a 34th Division infantry officer and platoon leader, and spent two years in Italy where he was awarded the Bronze Star. He also earned battle stars for Anzio, Casino, Rome and the North Apennines. The only war story the daughters were told was of finding a violin in no-man’s land. It happened while leading an advance scouting unit, one of the war’s most dangerous occupations, that one of his men found a violin in an old abandoned farmhouse. “I tried playing it and from then on we carried it around with us all the time. When we had some time off, I’d play and the others would sing,” Henigbaum recalled. The violin remains in the family to this day.
He married violinist Mary Carol Penn of Kokomo IN. After the war they resumed their musical careers in Iowa and had three daughters, who also became musicians. Bill “retired” and moved to Jackson County NC, to build a home in the mountains and to play golf, but music called him back into action. He taught violin students, played in the Asheville, Hendersonville, Brevard and Greenville symphonies, and conducted the Western Carolina Civic Orchestra for many years. After he passed the baton at WCU in 2012, he joined the violin section and played until the spring concert this year. That concert was dedicated to his honor in gratitude for his many contributions to the musical community.
Mr. Henigbaum was preceded in death by his parents, his brother John (Jack) Henigbaum, and his former wife Mary Carol Henigbaum. He is survived by his daughters Cathy (Ron) Arps of Sylva NC, Jane (Rich) Fanning of Bethlehem PA and Nancy Honeytree (J.R.) Miller of Fort Wayne IN, his grandchildren Hannah (Blythe) Ardyson, Emily (Orsin) Thanasi, William (Ryleigh) Miller, and Eric Fanning, and great grandchildren Adah, Walker, Milena, Elisa and Paisyn. The family wishes to thank Bill’s very special helpers: Debbie Schultz, Ellen Boyd and Peggy Stern, for five years of loving care for the whole family.
Contributions in his memory would be received gratefully by the music department of Western Carolina University, the Quad-City Symphony Orchestra (Davenport, IA) or the Jackson County (NC) Arts Council. A memorial service to celebrate Bill’s life with words and music will be announced at a later date.