April 2, 2024 // Diocese

‘A Man of Faith’: Bishop Offers Condolences After Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry Dies

Following the passing of Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry, Bishop Rhoades offered his prayers and condolences as well as his appreciation for Henry’s faithfulness and dedication to the city. Henry died on Thursday, March 28, following a battle with stomach cancer.

Thomas Christopher Henry was an American businessman and politician who was the 35th Mayor of Fort Wayne from 2008 until his death. A member of the Democratic Party, Henry served five terms on Fort Wayne City Council from 1984 to 2004, representing the 3rd District. He was Fort Wayne’s longest-serving mayor having been elected to five terms.

“I and the Catholic community of Fort Wayne mourn the death of Mayor Tom Henry, a man of faith, who served our city with selfless devotion through his many years of public service,” Bishop Rhoades said in a statement. “Mayor Henry died on Holy Thursday as we began our three days of remembrance of the passion, death, and resurrection of the Lord.  We pray that Mayor Henry, who died peacefully in the Lord, may share in the joy of his resurrection. On behalf of the people of the diocese, I extend condolences to Mayor Henry’s family and friends, praying that God will grant them comfort and consolation during these days of mourning. I will always remember with thanksgiving Tom’s goodness to me and to so many others, especially the needy of our community. May he rest in peace!”

Henry, 72, who had served as Fort Wayne’s mayor since 2008, was elected to an unprecedented fifth term in November. His wife, Cindy, 67, died January 20 after battling pancreatic cancer. At a news conference on February 26, Henry revealed he had been diagnosed with late-stage cancer. On March 28, Henry’s family released a statement saying the mayor had been placed in hospice care. Hours later, they issued another statement saying Henry had passed away.

“Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry passed away peacefully Thursday, March 28, 2024, after experiencing a medical emergency related to his cancer,” the family statement read. “In the early morning hours of Wednesday, March 27, Mayor Henry was privately transported to a local hospital at which time he and his family consulted at length with medical professionals including his oncologist. After careful consideration of the risks associated with surgical intervention, Mayor Henry opted for comfort measures. He died peacefully surrounded by his loving family. Mayor Henry was a man of the highest character – a true servant leader who devoted his entire adult life to the betterment of Fort Wayne and its residents. He was also the best dad a son or daughter could ask for. We, his family, mourn the loss of Tom with the rest of our community, but we also take great comfort in knowing that he is once again with his beautiful Cindy who passed away from cancer just two months ago. We thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers, but also ask for privacy as we grieve Tom’s passing and celebrate his extraordinary life and legacy.”

Henry is survived by his son Benjamin, daughter Elizabeth, and four grandchildren. Henry was the second oldest of 17 children born to Jerome and Marganelle “Marge” Henry. Mayor Henry and Cindy were married on June 21, 1975, at St. Henry’s Catholic Church – a day he said he would never forget.

“It was extremely hot, no air conditioning in the church or reception hall,” he told the Journal Gazette in 1996. “My uncle and my brothers kept me up the whole night before. My wife was absolutely gorgeous. What an angel! What a day!”

Henry graduated from Fort Wayne Central Catholic High School in 1970 before serving in the U.S. Army Military Police Corp. He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1976 from Saint Francis College (now the University of Saint Francis) and a master’s degree in business administration from the school in 1981.

“The University of Saint Francis community is deeply saddened over Mayor Tom Henry’s passing. As an alumnus with two degrees, he remained a dedicated supporter and proponent of his alma mater,” said Dr. Lance Richey, President of Saint Francis. “His service to the city of Fort Wayne is well known throughout Indiana and beyond. His love for the people in our community was undisputed and he will be greatly missed. We offer our condolences to the Henry family and pray they be comforted in this time of grieving. May our friend Tom rest in the everlasting love of our Heavenly Father.”

Karl Bandemer, 79, who had been serving as Henry’s Deputy Mayor since 2013, was sworn in as Fort Wayne’s acting mayor on Friday, March 29. He will serve as acting mayor until the Allen County Democratic Party holds a caucus to elect a replacement within a 30-day deadline. If the party does not select a replacement, Bandemer will remain in the position until the end of Henry’s elected term in 2027.

A funeral Mass for Henry will be held on Friday, April 12, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne at 10 a.m. with calling starting at 9 a.m.

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