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Former Bar President Henry dies.

William O. E. Henry--former president of both The Florida Bar and Florida Bar Foundation, a Holland & Knight lawyer for more than half a century, a champion of the poor, and an Eagle Scout extraordinaire--died March 11 after complications from a lung disorder.

"Bill was a great Bar leader and a great and caring person," said Gerry Richman, who served as Bar president-elect under Henry. "His service to The Florida Bar, ABA, Florida Bar Foundation, and other organizations should long be remembered."

Henry, 77, of Maitland, was one of the six original associates of what was then Holland, Bevis and McRae in Bartow, and retired in January after 51 years of a distinguished career as a tax lawyer. Twenty-one years ago, he opened Holland & Knight's Orlando office, after heading the Lakeland office. He died before the firm dedicated a conference room in his name on the SunTrust Tower's 30th floor.

As Florida Bar president in 1983-84, he pressed lawyers to work pro bono for death row inmates because no state money was available.

"We do a pretty good job with our efforts to improve the administration of justice, but the public thinks the judicial system is not working. They blame the system because it is falling to carry out the death penalty," Henry told the Bar Journal in 1983. "The Bar has no role in the social and political decision creating the death penalty, but once it is law, the Bar has a responsibility to see that it is carried out."

Though unpopular at the time, Henry convinced large law firms to handle at least one pro bono case representing a death row inmate.

As president of The Florida Bar Foundation in 1988, Henry lobbied for mandatory funding to provide legal services for the poor, and succeeded the following year when the Florida Supreme Court made mandatory the IOTA program requiring lawyers to donate interest from client trust accounts to indigent legal services.

In recognition of Henry's efforts to improve Florida's justice system, The Florida Bar Foundation presented him with its Medal of Honor in 1996.

"Bill's receipt of two awards defined his contributions to our community and to scouting," said former Bar Board of Governors member John Yanchunis. "The Silver Beaver Award, the highest award which can be awarded by a Boy Scout Council, is awarded to a volunteer who has provided exemplary service to the scouting movement. Bill also received an even rarer award--the Distinguished Eagle Award, which is given to an individual who earned the rank of Eagle as a youth, continued to contribute to scouting as an adult, and who also distinguished himself in the community and in his chosen profession and occupation."

Both before and after his term as president, Henry distinguished himself in service to the Bar. A former chair of the Tax Section, Henry served for six years as a member of the Board of Governors, served as president of the Foundation from 1988-89, and trustee of the Foundation's Endowed Trust from 1988-98.

He was a retired U.S. Naval Reserve officer and a former Officer in Charge of a Reserve Intelligence Unit. Henry earned his law degree in 1952 from the University of Florida, as well as his bachelor's degree in journalism in 1950.

He is survived by his wife, Mary; daughters Jean Theobald and Carol Lee; son Bob Henry; grandchildren Dawson and Will Henry, Jeffrey Lee and Jesse Theobald; sister Audrey Jensen; eight nieces and nephews; and his wife's three children and 11 grandchildren.

The family suggests contributions be made to the William O.E. Henry Charitable Foundation, c/o The Community Foundation, 1411 Edgewater Drive, Suite 203, Orlando, FL 32804.

The family has asked that cards be sent to Bev Martin, Holland & Knight, P.O. Box 1526, Orlando, FL 32802.
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Publication:Florida Bar News
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2005
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