Heartfelt notes that accompanied donations made in memory of Lynne Henkhaus reflected both her influence and her passions.
"One said ‘Your mom inspired me to be a teacher,'" Anne Gannaway, alumni director at St. Ambrose, recalled a few weeks after her mother lost a 16-year battle with cancer on Christmas Eve 2012. "Another said ‘I don't ever show up empty-handed for a party and that's because of Lynne.'"
Donations large and small were made to the Academy for the Study of Saint Ambrose to honor the last request of a lifelong teacher who never attended nor taught at St. Ambrose, yet was as Ambrosian as she possibly could be.
"I don't know if it was from Day One—it probably was," said Ed Henkhaus '64, who brought his wife of 45 years into the St. Ambrose family when he was hired as chief financial officer in 1979. "The more we were around St. Ambrose, the more she fell in love with it."
Ed Henkhaus was promoted to vice president for finance in 1980 and, except for a two-year hiatus, remained in that role until his retirement in 2008. Lynne was a teacher and reading specialist for the Davenport school district for 30 years. She retired in 2000, four years after being diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma.
Known as ‘The Fighter," her daughter said, Lynne battled the disease into remission three times. Two years before her death, she endured 24 hours of surgery over three days.
That surgery forced her briefly into a wheelchair and before the family could figure out how to have a ramp built at their Davenport home, Ambrosians had constructed one for them.
Lynne's last trip outside her home was to St. Ambrose on Dec. 2, where she and her husband attended a luncheon to welcome Msgr. Cesare Pasini, prefect of the Vatican Library, to campus.
Ed Henkhaus said his wife, though ailing, felt compelled yet again to express her appreciation for the university. "She was beaming with pride," he said. "There was nothing she was more proud of than her family, but St. Ambrose was a close second."
Friends of the family honored her last wish through generous memorials to the academy totaling more than $8,500. The Henkhaus family, including Anne and her brothers John and Paul '93, decided to match those donations.
Ed Henkhaus said he opted to talk about his family's decision to match the memorial gifts only to encourage other Ambrosians to follow his wife's lead one more time, and support the university Lynne Henkhaus so deeply loved.