Joshua Schipper
Video/Digital Content/Graphic Design Producer
April 16, 2024 // Local

‘Mayor Henry, May God Give You a Safe Home’

Joshua Schipper
Video/Digital Content/Graphic Design Producer

Longtime Fort Wayne Mayor Laid to Rest Following Mass of Christian Burial

On Friday, April 12, hundreds of people packed the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception to pay their respects to the late Fort Wayne Mayor Thomas C. Henry, who died on Thursday, March 28, at age 72, a little more than a month after revealing a late-stage cancer diagnosis.

More photos from the Mass.

Before the Mass of Christian burial, a representative from Governor Eric Holcomb’s office posthumously honored the mayor with the title of Sagamore of the Wabash, the Hoosier state’s highest honor, which Henry’s children accepted on his behalf.

As the Mass began, Monsignor Robert Schulte, Pastor of St. Jude Catholic Church in Fort Wayne, greeted those who were gathered. He recalled that the funeral of Henry’s wife, Cindy, occurred 77 days prior, alluding to the symbolism behind the number seven.

“Seven is a biblical number,” Monsignor Schulte explained, “a number of completeness and fullness. Tom’s life was certainly a life of completeness and fullness. Maybe that’s part of God’s plan as well. I guess, what I’m saying today is, we need to be thankful – thankful for Tom’s life, for his service to our community, for his service as a relative and friend, and for so much that he did for others.”

Father Bill Kummer, referencing John’s Gospel, spoke of the dwelling place that God has prepared for Henry, whom he called a “man of community service.”

In his homily, Father Bill Kummer, Pastor of St. Joseph – Hessen Cassel, recalled that he, Monsignor Schulte, and Henry “were boys together. … We knew each other in many ways and experienced all that fun of growing up – of trying to sort out a life of faith in the world, and then to ultimately follow our chosen and given vocations.”

Father Kummer called Henry a “man of community service,” saying no one would be elected mayor five times without having “service in his heart … may God give you a safe home.”

Friends and family of Henry, including Acting Mayor Karl Bandemer and businessman and philanthropist Chuck Surack, served as pallbearers for the procession that followed the Mass. Numerous city employees and citizens of Fort Wayne lined the sidewalks along the procession route to pay tribute to the mayor before his interment at the Catholic Cemetery on Lake Avenue.

After learning of Henry’s death in March, Bishop  Rhoades released a statement saying: “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. 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!”

Pallbearers carried Henry to a hearse prior to a procession to the Catholic Cemetery on Lake Avenue. For the length of the procession, citizens of Fort Wayne lined the sidewalk to pay a final tribute to the longtime mayor.

Henry had served as mayor of the Summit City since 2008, having been elected to an unprecedented five terms. His wife, Cindy, 67, died on January 20 after battling pancreatic cancer.

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.

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. The Allen County Democratic Party is scheduled to hold a caucus on Saturday, April 20, to fill Henry’s position.

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