Longtime Louisiana High School Athletic Association commissioner Tommy Henry, a 2008 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame inductee, will be remembered Saturday, Jan. 8, at a celebration of life service in his Baton Rouge church.
Henry, 84, passed away unexpectedly on Nov. 26. He served the LHSAA for 31 years, the last 24 as commissioner, until his retirement.
Saturday’s 1 p.m. service will take place at University Baptist Church, 5775 Highland Road in Baton Rouge.
The family encourages, in lieu of flowers, consideration of donations to the Tommy Henry Memorial Fund through secure transactions through the LaSportsHall.com website’s home page (or use this direct link), or to University Baptist Church.
Henry graduated from Alexandria’s Bolton High School in 1955, then Northwestern State University in 1959 (bachelor’s degree) and 1963 (master’s); and LSU (1976). From 1960-62 he served in the U.S. Army Military Police and earned the rank of Captain. He taught and coached multiple sports at Bossier High School from 1963-75, notably building a powerhouse baseball program. Henry was a graduate assistant baseball coach at LSU in 1975-76.
He then joined the LHSAA staff and served the state’s high school athletics association until retiring in 2007. He was a first-ballot selection to the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, recognized as one of the nation’s most progressive prep sports leaders. Henry led the creation of the annual Superdome Classic high school football championship event in New Orleans and obtained sponsorship and television coverage for that and other LHSAA championships.
He is survived by his beloved wife Mildred Ann, his daughter Milette Coles (Al) and his son Ty (Sherri), along with five grandchildren and his sister, Linda Morris (John) and nephews and nieces.
“He was the most influential person who dealt with high school sports in our history,” said former LHSAA president Jimmy Anderson of Lake Charles told the Baton Rouge Advocate. “The one big thing about Tommy was this – his emphasis was on the kids. Whatever decisions he made were always based on what was best for the interest of our student-athletes, and I always respected that.”
“I think the best word to describe Tommy was ‘visionary,’ “ said Mitch Small, who was hired by Henry as the LHSAA’s first marketing director. “He saw things and what they could be before a lot of people. Corporate sponsorship and how it could boost the funding for the association was one of those things.”
The LHSAA’s reserves soared from $400,000 to $1.7 million during Henry’s career. An avid golfer, Henry was a fixture at Hall of Fame events and golf tournaments for most of the decade after his induction.