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Former Wayne Law Faculty Member Remembered for His Legacy

April 16, 2009

DETROIT (April 16, 2009) – Wayne State University Law School announces the passing of former faculty member Ray David Henson. Henson, 84, formerly of Johnston City, Ill., died Saturday, March 7, 2009, in St. Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco.

“We are saddened to hear of Professor Henson’s passing,” said Wayne Law Dean and Professor Robert M. Ackerman. “I am told that he was an extraordinary professor and have no doubt that many people around the country and beyond mourn his passing.”

Born July 24, 1924, Henson served in World War II alongside former Chief Justice William Rehnquist in the U.S. Army Air Corps before he went on to pursue his bachelor’s and juris doctorate degrees from the University of Illinois. He also studied at Oxford University. In 1970, he was invited to join the faculty at Wayne Law to teach courses in bankruptcy and creditors rights and land financing.

Henson served on the Wayne Law faculty until 1975, Thereafter, he joined the faculty of Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, where he taught until his retirement in 1995. In addition to his teaching, Henson was also active with a variety of organizations throughout his life, including serving as chairman of the Corporation Banking and Business Law Section and Uniform Commercial Code Committee of the American Bar Association, a member of the American Law Institute, and more.

One Wayne Law alumnus, John G. Cameron, Jr. of Dickinson Wright PLLC in Grand Rapids, remembers Henson as supportive of his students’ endeavors at Wayne Law.

“It’s hard to describe how loyal he was,” said Cameron. “This was a man who cared deeply for his students. He worked hard and would use his contacts throughout the country to place students in the finest law firms in the biggest cities.”

Described by Cameron as an effusive educator, Henson continually expected the best from his students.

“He was very demanding, just as any teacher would be, but he knew what his students were capable of and didn’t expect anything less,” said Cameron, whose passion to teach and write about law stems from Henson’s classes and mentorship. Cameron also served as his late professor’s research assistant for the writing of West Publishing Company's “Handbook on the Law of Secured Transactions.” This was just one of four books and numerous articles which Henson authored. He also assisted with the writing and revision of Article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code, whichgoverns secured transactions where security interests are taken in personal property.

For Cameron, whose relationship with Henson remained strong after graduation, memories of the professor will continue to inspire him as he finds himself emulating Henson’s standards with his own students.

“Demand the highest possible quality, come prepared and always do your best,” explained Cameron as he discussed how he aligns Henson’s teaching expectations with his own. “Perhaps these standards simply come from common sense; however, they were what Professor Henson lived by, and I will always be thankful that he pushed for such standards with me.”

Henson was laid to rest at the Rose Hill Cemetery in Marion, with military rites conducted by Marion VFW and American Legion. Although saddened, Cameron will remember Henson for both his diligent work as a professor and his kindness as a friend.

“Although he tried to hide it, beneath the veneer of distance he had a heart of gold and cared for people more than he ever let on,” Cameron said.

About Wayne Law
Wayne State University Law School has educated and served the Detroit metropolitan area since its inception as Detroit City Law School in 1927. Located at 471 West Palmer Street in Detroit’s re-energized historic cultural center, the Law School remains committed to student success and features modern lecture and court facilities, multi-media and distance learning classrooms, a 250-seat auditorium, and the Arthur Neef Law Library, which houses one of the nation's 40 largest legal collections. Taught by an internationally recognized and expert faculty, Wayne Law students experience a high-quality legal education via a growing array of hands-on curricular offerings, five live-client clinics, and access to well over 100 internships with local and non-profit entities each year. Its 11,000 living alumni, who work in every state of the nation and more than a dozen foreign countries, are experts in their disciplines and include leading members of the local, national and international legal communities. For more information, visit www.law.wayne.edu.  

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