Elmer Arthur Hennig was born May 14, 1905 in Chicago, to Hermann Frederick Hennig (1869-1945) and his wife, Paulina, nee Runzheimer (1874-1939). Elmer's mother was known as "Polly" to the family. Elmer had four brothers and one sister who lived to adulthood: August Horace (1892-1976), Herman Martin (1895-1931), Raymond Clarence (1902-1968) and Bernice Laura (1914-1975). There was also an infant son who was born in 1901 but did not live. Hermann Hennig had come to the United States from Wesel, Germany in 1884; Polly was born in Chicago. They married in Chicago on October 10, 1891. Hermann Hennig was in the drapery business.
|Elmer A. Hennig at his desk at Rosehill. Note the picture of the Mausoleum on the wall behind him|
|Elmer Arthur Hennig Chapel - Rosehill Cemetery|
The owners of Rosehill Cemetery decided to name the chapel after Elmer Arthur Hennig as a permanent testimonial to the man who had dedicated his entire business career to Rosehill.
It goes without saying that Bertha was buried at Rosehill Cemetery in the beautiful plot she and Elmer bought in Section 15.
Elmer's daughter Judith had this to say about her step-mother Catherine, "She was a special, delightful lady who brought love and happiness to all of us." Catherine must have been a wonderful person and Elmer was blessed to have re-discovered her after all those years. The fact that they re-met at Rosehill may have had something to do with it. Remember, Elmer always thought that Rosehill was a special, sacred place.
Elmer and Kay continued spending the summers in Michigan and the winters in Lubbock. Their happiness came to an end however, when Kay died on February 1, 1984 in Lubbock.
Here is the memorial card from her funeral:
When Kay died Elmer was 79 years old, and the family felt that it would be better for all of them if he gave up the place in Michigan and moved in with Judith and her family.
This is not the place to talk about how Rosehill has changed, but it is safe to say that it is not Elmer Hennig's Rosehill any more. I asked Judith what Elmer would say his greatest accomplishments at Rosehill were. She said:
- Keeping the grounds beautiful out of respect for those who rested there
- Keeping the grounds private and dedicated to the purpose for which they were established.
- Being a fair and honest employee and treating all of the workers with respect and getting to know them well.
- Knowing all he could about the people resting there and the fabulous history the grounds held.
- Overseeing the additions to the mausoleum.
Now you know the story of Elmer A. Hennig. I will end this article with the final comments I got from his daughter Judith:
"He loved his job at Rosehill, the people there, and the beautiful city."
Acknowledgements: Thank you to Elmer Hennig's relative Victor Lee for the photos and funeral cards, and most of all for putting me in touch with Judith Bray.
A very special thank you to Elmer and Bertha's daughter Judith Bray for providing photos and being willing to tell me the story of her father and share personal details that helped us to get a better picture of Elmer Hennig.
And most of all thank you to Elmer A. Hennig - a man I never met but greatly admire. He was mostly responsible for creating the Rosehill Cemetery that I fell in love with, and still enjoy to this day, albeit in a diminished way. I'm sorry we never met because he had my dream job: President and Superintendent of Rosehill Cemetery. I'm sure that the grounds of heaven will be made even more beautiful if Elmer Hennig is in charge of their care.