Obituary: Gary Henkel, 30-year veteran of Menlo Park fire district


The ranks of former firefighters from the Menlo Park Fire Protection District who are still around to talk about their experiences were reduced by one recently with the death of Gary Henkel, a 30-year veteran of the district.

Mr. Henkel died Aug. 5 in Redwood City after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease. He was 77.

He started two businesses: Gary's Auto Repair in Redwood City, and SCBA Safety Check, a Fremont company involved with the safety of the breathing apparatus carried by firefighters. He also built boats and enjoyed softball, golf, dancing and skiing on the water and in the snow.

Mr. Henkel was born in Dinuba in the Central Valley, came to Menlo Park in 1950, and attended high school at Sequoia High and M-A, where he graduated in 1954. He was a Marine from 1955 to 1959, then joined the Menlo Park fire district, where he rose to the rank of captain. He had a degree in fire service from the College of San Mateo.

He married in 1972. In his 42-year marriage with Carol, Mr. Henkel was "a good listener with an ever present twinkle in his eye," his family said, "and he was able to bring pleasure and unexpected humor to their relationship."

The couple spent vacations with friends in Hawaii and Palm Springs, Lake Tahoe and Lake Berryessa (in Napa County).

"Gary was a thoughtful, sympathetic, kind and loving soul who brought immeasurable joy to his family and friends," his family said.

Mr. Henkel is survived his wife; his son Marshall; his daughters Vickie, Kelly, Caryn, Cheryl and Michele; 11 grandchildren; and one great-grandchild. Services have been held.

— Dave Boyce

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