He was born on July 24, 1918, in Raiford to Chester White Henry and Myra Anna (Morris) Henry, the fourth of six children. The family moved to Claremore in 1925. There he graduated from high school in 1936. He attended Oklahoma A&M College and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Instrumental Music in 1940. While at college he was a member of the band, orchestra, pep band and Student Entertainers. In 1940 he became band and orchestra director at Pauls Valley public schools. It was there he met his future wife, Wanda June Suggs, and they were married Nov. 27, 1941, in Pauls Valley.
He enlisted in the U.S. Navy during World War II in April 1942 and was assigned to the Seabee Band was stationed in Norfolk, Va., and later in Williamsburg,Va. After two and a half years with the Seabee Band he was assigned to the Navy School of Music in Washington, D.C. as an instructor. He served there a year and was discharged from the Navy in October 1945. He entered the University of Southern California in November 1945 and received a Master of Music degree in July 1946.
He was invited to the join the staff of the Music Department at Oklahoma A&M College in 1946 as assistant director of bands, director of a newly formed all-girls band, and instructor of low brass and percussion. He advanced in rank from his initial appointment as instructor to full professor in 1967.
He was Director of Marching Bands until 1957 when he was appointed Director of Bands. He directed marching and concert bands until 1966 when an additional assistant director was hired for marching and pep bands. The Concert Band performed concerts on campus each year and took an annual concert tour throughout the state to various high schools and communities. They also performed at state music conferences and on area TV stations. One of the most popular activities of the band program was the summer concert series at Theta Pond. He was the conductor for 33 years. These summer band concerts inspired the establishment of the Stillwater Community Band that continues to flourish. He retired from Oklahoma State University in 1981 after 35 years. He remained active with student organizations including the OSU Alumni Band, Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma, as well as attending many Music Department concerts and events.
His primary area of interest was in the preparation of students to be instrumental music teachers. He maintained close contact with former students who taught in public schools and universities across the nation. They shared their reports of successes, happy occasions and families. He was also an advisor for student organizations such as Kappa Kappa Psi, Tau Beta Sigma and the Music Educators National Conference.
He was a guest conductor at numerous summer band camps throughout the nation each year as well as guest conductor for several clinics and concerts. He was a member of several state and national professional music organizations, serving in leadership positions in each.
In addition to his teaching duties, he was chairman of the Oklahoma Band Clinic for many years, chairman of instrumental music contests, summer band camps, summer music reading clinics, and was chairman of the State Music Contest Committee for many years. He was elected to the Oklahoma Bandmasters Hall of Fame in 1972 as a result of the numerous activities and years of service to music education in the state.
He was recognized by many professional organizations for his work. In 1977, the national band fraternity, Kappa Kappa Psi, awarded him its highest honor, the “Distinguished Service to Music” award. In the same year he was recognized as “Outstanding Teacher of the Year” by the College of Arts and Sciences. He was elected to the Oklahoma Music Educators Hall of Fame in 1988.
Mr. Henry served an integral role on the Steering Committee for the 100 year celebration of bands at OSU, commemorated in fall 2005. In the fall 2006, the OSU Alumni Band Association, in conjunction with Alumni Band Day, presented “A Tribute to Mr. Hiram Henry” through a series of events, noting his significant contributions throughout the years.
He was a member of the First Presbyterian Church and served as a Sunday school teacher and two terms as a Deacon and Elder. He joined the Golden K Kiwanis Club and became active in community projects early in his retirement serving as song leader, program chairman and president. His community service as a volunteer included meal deliveries for Elderly Nutrition, Stillwater Medical Center and transportation for friends, community dinners and events for children. He was recognized for this by Kiwanis with their “Kiwanis Tablet of Honor Award” for community service in 2000 and their “Lay Person of the Year Award” in 2004 for District 16. He also received the Rotary “Stillwater Citizen of the Year Award” in 2003. The Sunshine Seniors honored him as their “Volunteer of the Year” in 2000. The nayor of Stillwater issued a Proclamation in 2000 recognizing the many years of numerous and varied volunteer activities.
Mr. Henry was known for providing consistent and loving daily assistance to his wife, Wanda, the nine years she was a resident at Westhaven Nursing Center. During that time, he chaired the Family Advocacy initiative. He was a dedicated father to Jan and Bob, and to their children and grandchildren, as an exemplary role model for living a full, selfless and giving lifestyle.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife Wanda in June 2008; one brother, Britton Henry; and four sisters, Leona Tanner, Bonnie Helm, Velva Stewart and Kiamichie Brown.
He is survived by a daughter, Janice Brucker and her husband Bill of Columbia, Ill.; one son, Robert Henry and his wife Anna of Lubbock, Texas; five grandchildren, Katrina Kirby of Los Angeles; Chris Brucker of Millbrae, Calif.; Jeremy Brucker of Columbia, Ill.; Matthew Brucker of Columbia, Ill.; and Scott Henry of Dallas; four great grandchildren, Ashley Kirby of Columbia, Ill.; Caroline Molinier of Los Angeles; Jack Molinier, Jr., of Los Angeles; and Landon Brucker of Columbia, Ill.; and many nephews and nieces.
Memorials may be sent to the OSU Music Department, 132 Seretean Center, Stillwater, OK 74078; Stillwater Medical Center, 1323 West 6th Street, Stillwater, OK 74074; Judith Karman Hospice, 915 South Main Street, Stillwater, OK 7407; and Elderly Nutrition, 312 West 9th Avenue, Stillwater, OK 74074.