Jozef Lawrence Hennigan
Jozef Lawrence Hennigan
  • December 26, 1950 - September 11, 2017
  • Fairfax Station, Virginia

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Jozef Hennigan was born in Altoona, Pennsylvania, on December 26, 1950. He spent his youth crisscrossing the country as his dad's work took the family to New Mexico, Florida, before finally settling in Hyattsville, Maryland. Throughout all the moves, Joe proudly earned his Eagle Scout award and often told tales of camping, his survival experience at Philmont Scout Ranch, and how the boys of 299 were as close as brothers.

Joe graduated from Northwestern High School in 1968, a most turbulent time in our country. He began classes at the University of Maryland, studying to be an engineer His path changed and he decided to enlist in United States Navy. His letters from boot camp in Michigan highlighted his newly found dislike of the cold. His first post was the White House Communications Agency (WHCA), directly supporting the President of the United States and his staff.

Joe met the woman who quickly become the love of his life through friends from UMD. Sandra and Joe became inseparable. Joe made quite the impression on Sandra's family, including that one time when Joe, the city boy, set the field on fire with the tractor. As fate would have it, they went to an event at the volunteer fire department that night, where he good naturedly endured a just a few comments at his expense. Sandra and Joe were married on December 7, 1974, in Galena, Maryland. They welcomed two daughters, Christina in 1976, and Katie in 1978, and settled into life in the D.C. metro area. To say that Sandra and Joe were true partners is an understatement; they became intertwined in all aspects of life.

Joe's career at WHCA took him all over the world. He spent an unprecedented twenty years serving the administrations of Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush. Joe had a million inside stories about his time at WHCA, which he told with a twinkle in his eye, much to the delight of the listener. Each story began with, "well, there was this time in." Sandra kept the home fires burning and the care packages in the mail. Joe would call and say, "Sand, can you send me." One his daughters' favorite stories was about a maid in Ireland who kept stealing peanut M&Ms from his bag in the dresser. He caught wind of it, emptied the bag, filled it with air, and left it for the girl to find. He returned to his room to find the deflated bag on the dresser. He had quite a laugh about that one. One of Sand's famous care packages included a bag of M&Ms for the maid. Part of his job was receiving important calls from headquarters in the middle of the night. Of course, there are varying degrees of important; Joe could answer detailed questions about WHCA operations in his sleep as well as give the guys the correct recipe for Irish Flag shots.

Joe left WHCA in 1991, entering the Navy Fleet Reserves, fully retiring in 2001. He may have retired but he did not slow down. He worked with a private firm, TWD, which supported international dignitaries, much like his work with WHCA. After 9/11/01, his work as a communications engineer led him to the Department of Homeland Security. During his time at DHS, he supported FEMA and the Secret Service. In 2008, he transitioned to the U.S. Patent Office, again supporting network communication operations.

Everyone who knows Joe has a "Joe" story to tell. All of them are filled with humor, in a "tell it like it is" manner. Once he was providing technical support to an agent whose earpiece was not working right. Joe's response was, "If you clean the ear wax off once in awhile, the thing will work better." Or the time that he was testing a new generator at the White House and he had to run to find the gardener so that Liberty, President Ford's dog, wouldn't die of asphyxiation, as the generator had been placed near where the dog was kept kenneled. Joe made the mundane seem fun.

His greatest joys, besides his Sand, were his two daughters, Chris and Katie. He loved to call each of them with something ridiculous that would make the three of them giggle so hard they couldn't speak. Poor Sandra was often caught in the middle, trying to maintain some semblance of control. His favorite line with his girls when the going got tough was, "it builds character."

Joe had a lifelong love of baseball, following the Cubs, and later his beloved Nationals. Imagine his joy when the Cubbies won the series! He rode high on that excitement for weeks. He became a season ticket holder for the Nationals in 2005 and loved cheering for the team. He and his girls never missed an opening day. He passed his love of the game onto his granddaughter Alison, and his namesake grandson, Joseph.

In 2015, Joe suffered a devastating stroke, which took a toll on his physical body. The last two years were tough on Joe, as he was forced to give up riding his Harleys, and become increasingly reliant on others to support him in the day-to-day of life. He tried to find the joy as he and Sandra navigated their new normal.

Ranger Joe was so much to so many. He was quick with a smile and a joke in every situation. He had a unique take on life, offering a silly quip whenever possible. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of sports stats, movie quotes, and other random bits of knowledge only useful in a trivia game. Most of all, he was a loving husband, father, and grandfather, who will be missed in ways we are only starting to realize.

Joe was preceded in death by his parents, William and Stefania Hennigan, and Carolyn Huey, his sisters Carol Huey and Mary Beth Huey. He