The Lumberjack

Erin Henry awarded degree, honored and remembered

Erin Henry posing with her degree at Humboldt State University. Photo submitted by Tom Henry, father of Erin.

No one at Humboldt State University could forget the tragic story of Erin Henry. The 22-year-old HSU student was found deceased in Dec. 2017 after being reported missing for over a week. Henry was only a few weeks away from completing her degree in theatre arts with a minor in social advocacy. Last month, HSU awarded Henry her bachelor’s degree, just in time for her memorial service in Wyoming on Jan. 26.

Henry’s death came as a shock to her college community. Her theatre professor and academic advisor, Rae Robison, remembers her as a hard-working actress, playwright and passionate social advocate.

“I’ve never met anyone more kind, more thoughtful and more considerate of others than herself,” Robison said. “She was the type of positive, talented person who doesn’t come along every day.”

What was most unsettling for Henry’s friends and family was the unusual circumstances surrounding her death. According to the North Coast Journal, the police found Henry’s injuries to be caused by a self-inflicted fall from Elephant Rock.

“I have no idea what happened,” Robinson said. “I don’t think anyone will ever know.”

Henry made her mark during her five years in Humboldt. She volunteered for Visiting Angels, a Eureka-based group that provides care for seniors. She also dedicated a great deal of time and energy to the theater at HSU, holding roles in many productions including “Young Frankenstein” and “Julius Caesar.”

Henry was also a devoted student. She worked hard to earn her degree and according to HSU registrar Clint Rebik, Henry graduated Cum Laude with honors.

Henry walked for graduation in Spring 2017, though she still needed one more semester for completion.

A copy of Henry’s degree will be mailed to members of her family next week by the Dean of Students, Randi Darnall Burke.

Her brother Ian Henry says she was always passionate about theater, but the demands of college did not always come naturally to her.

“She had to combat that by working hard at it,” he said. “She was always working.”

Ian is proud of his sister for completing her education and thinks sending her degree is a nice gesture from HSU. Although it is accompanied by bittersweet emotion, reminding him of her compassion and goals for helping others.

“She was always a big proponent for being a voice for those less fortunate than her,” Ian said. “She was trying to go places. But obviously, that’s not going to happen.”

Henry grew up in Sheridan, Wyoming and was adopted at two months old by parents Tom Henry and Terry Rowland. Her biological father passed away and biological mother felt she couldn’t handle parenthood alone.

On Jan. 26, friends and family gathered at the WYO Theater in Sheridan to celebrate her life. Henry’s father says the theater donated their space for her memorial because she had been in several productions there. The venue seems fitting, considering the theater is where she loved to spend her time.

“Her dream was to use theater as social advocacy to stop human trafficking,” Tom said.

The memorial service was streamed live on the In Loving Memory of Erin Henry Facebook page, making it possible for all of her friends, fellow students and professors in Humboldt to view. HSU was an important part of Henry’s life.

Henry’s father sent a letter to The Lumberjack, thanking the community for all of their efforts to find his daughter and emphasizing the importance of reaching out for help.

“We would also like to encourage others suffering from depression, or related ailments, to seek help,” Tom said.” Please help to eliminate any stigma associated with needing medication or treatment in order to function as a happy, healthy human being,”

The full letter can be viewed in the Letter to the Editor section of this issue.