Edward E. “Buzz” Henifin, 88, U.S. Navy captain, made his final PCS and passed away on July 25, 2020. He was born in Madison, S.D., to the late Rose Vreyens Henifin and the late Ralph Henifin.
Henifin graduated from high school in Minneapolis, Minn., and went on to the U.S. Naval Academy, despite having never seen an ocean. A proud member of the Class of 1954, he pursued a career in submarines. The Navy took Henifin and his wife, Betsy, (and children as they arrived) up and down the East Coast (Newport, New London, Key West, Portsmouth, N.H.), west to Seattle and San Diego, and finally homesteading in the metro D.C. area for the last 13 years of his 30-year career. His decision to homestead in the D.C. area was likely career-limiting but allowed all three children to graduate from the same high school and really allowed the family to put down roots, much deeper than a typical military family.
Highlights of his distinguished career include executive officer of the U.S.S. Albacore, commanding officer of the U.S.S. Pomfret and commanding officer of the Naval Research Lab. Henifin spent significant time deep below the ocean as part of the Navy’s deep-submergence program, including as commanding officer of the Trieste II. He participated in searches for the U.S.S. Thresher, the U.S.S. Scorpion and various classified items lost at sea, including a hydrogen bomb and a reel of surveillance film dropped from a U.S. spy satellite.
The family learned about the classified missions after they were declassified and appeared in various publications — Henifin still would not confirm or deny! His wife finds it ironic that the Navy paid him to find small items in big oceans when she had to find everything for him in his own house.
The couple retired to Fenwick Island, Del., where they quickly became part of the community. He served on the Fenwick Island Town Council and various committees, and volunteered for the Center for the Inland Bays, and the James Farm and as a water quality monitor for the Delaware Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control (DNREC). Henifin was an oyster gardener before it was in vogue and a regular participant and leader of many beach clean-ups.
Henifin was an active member of Ocean View Presbyterian Church, spending much time and energy working behind the scenes as a leader of the Building & Grounds Committee, as he had at Bush Hill Presbyterian in Northern Virginia. He enjoyed volunteering with Christmas in April and Habitat for Humanity. A true servant-leader, Henifin earned the respect of those he worked with, those he worked for and those who worked for him, by rolling up his sleeves and doing whatever needed to be done. Yes, he could still bark orders to the end, but they were only barked to get the job done. If Henifin said he would take care of it — you knew it would be done.
A gracious host, Henifin enjoyed having family and friends over, and always stocked everyone’s favorite beverages. He and Betsy threw some memorable parties throughout the years, including a particularly lively evening with crew members from a Peruvian submarine and a lot of limbo dancing. He valued friendships with former shipmates and neighbors across the country, USNA classmates, Bush Hill friends, the Ocean View men’s breakfast group and the Fenwick Island Usual Suspects. He will be missed by all who had the privilege to know him. “We will always hear him — loud, clear and ungarbled!”
Henifin is survived by the love of his life and wife of 65 years, Betsy; his children, Ann Reddick, David Henifin and his wife, Jeanne, and Ted Henifin and his wife, Pam; five grandchildren, David Reddick and his wife, Darlene, Elisabeth Francis and her husband, Christopher, Cate Henderson and her husband, Caleb, Wells Henifin and Jimmy Henifin; and four great-grandchildren, Monroe Reddick, Presley Reddick, Huntleigh Henderson and Freyja Francis.
Plans for a COVID-responsible service and remembrances are in the works.
Memorial donations can be made to The Dolphin Scholarship Foundation, the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays, Delaware Hospice or Ocean View Presbyterian Church. Condolences may be sent online at www.melsonfuneralservices.com.