Donald Edward Thomas Henson of San Diego, CA, son of (late) Edward Joseph Henson and (late) Alice Cecilia (Giblin) Henson passed away peacefully on June 10th in San Diego, CA with his family close and by his side. He was born July 23, 1943 in Providence, RI and attended Hope High School where he starred in both hockey and tennis from 1959-61, playing on Hope’s state championship hockey team for (late) Coach Ed Mullen, who made a lasting impact on Don’s life work as a coach. After a post graduate year at Kimball Union Academy in Meriden, NH he attended University of Vermont on a hockey scholarship, also playing tennis for the Catamounts and proudly was a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity. It was at UVM that Don met the love his life, Marianne “Marcie” Card of Baltimore, MD. Don and Marcie were married on January 28, 1967 at Cathedral of Mary our Queen in Baltimore. They settled in Rhode Island and created their family of four children (Scooter, Pat, Carlin, and Seanan.) For sixteen years they lived at 10 Bond Rd in East Providence.
Don began his life work as a teaching tennis professional and coach at seventeen years old for the R.I. 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 eighteen years saw Don teach in an around the Rhode Island area. He built and owned two clubs there. First was Centre Court in Riverside and later, The Tennis Center in Johnston. Both clubs were well known for producing great junior players and for hosting a variety of national and international tournaments. During this period Don was named New England “Pro of the Year” on three different occasions. He served twelve 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 the summers of 1968 to 1972 Don was Head Tennis Pro at the Winchester (VA) Country Club and returned to Winchester in summer of 1982 as Head Pro at Stonebrook Swim and Racket Club. In 1984 Don took a position as the director of the historic Balboa Tennis Club in San Diego and moved his family to Coronado, CA. He also accelerated his involvement with the United States Professional Tennis Association at the time. Don was a national tester for the USPTA since 1971 under the guidance and mentoring of (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 eighteen USPTA Master Professionals, and 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 and was created “to provide a comprehensive educational and resource center for teachers and coaches of tennis” and 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 Tennis Hall of Fame in 2017 at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I.
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 from then on 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 sons Donovan “Scooter’ (Catherine) Henson of Coronado, CA, Patrick (Yenny) Henson of Melbourne, Australia, daughters Carlin (Robert) Reardon of Murrietta, CA and Seanan (Michael) McGrath of Coronado, CA. He had nine grandchildren, Sean Reardon, Kyle Reardon, Patrick Henson, Riley McGrath, Katelyn McGrath, McKenna Reardon, Donovan Henson, Colin McGrath, and Marsilius Henson. Cousins David Burns of Waynesville N.C., Joseph Giblin of North Kingstown, R.I., Jean Giblin West of Mashpee, MA, and Robert Molyneaux of San Francisco, CA. He was preceded in death by his sister Alice-Rose Henson of Chicago.
Celebrations of Don’s life will be held at the Roger Williams Park Tennis Courts (Providence, R.I) on Monday June 29th at 5pm, at Burbank Tennis Center (Los Angeles, CA) Date TBD, and at St. Stephen’s Church of God in Christ (San Diego, CA) Date TBD. For updates on Burbank and San Diego celebrations, please visit https://www.facebook.com/don.henson.524.
“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
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