Welcome to the memorial page for

John W. Henneman

November 26, 1932 ~ May 10, 2017 (age 84)

John Henneman, a celebrated mechanical engineer and loving husband, father and grandfather, died Wednesday, May 10, at his home in Rock Island after a long battle with Parkinson's disease. He was 84.

John retired from Litton Industries in Davenport as senior vice president of business development in 2000. That same year, the Survival and Flight Equipment Association honored John with the M. P. Koch Award for his lifetime contributions to the field. He was awarded 18 individual patents and several joint patents for oxygen regulators, anti-G and anti-suffocation valves and on-board oxygen generation systems, still used to provide oxygen to military pilots.  His inventions also were used by Apollo astronauts.

John William Henneman was born on Nov. 26, 1932, in Moline to Richard and Helen Henneman. His family moved to Ottumwa, Iowa, as his father rose in the ranks at Iowa-Illinois Gas & Electric Co. His father died when John was only 10 years old, and the family eventually returned to Rock Island.

John graduated in 1950 from Rock Island High School. He earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering in 1954 from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign and began working as an engineer at the Bendix Corp. In 1982, Litton Industries acquired the Bendix division, which later became part of Northrop Grumman Corp. and then Cobham Life Support. John held a number of positions at Bendix-Litton, working almost 50 years for the company. He also taught math part time for a period at St. Ambrose University. After he retired, he served as a consultant to a long-time friend’s business for many years.

In 1959, John met Patricia Ann Schmidt, a teacher in the Rock Island-Milan School District. He often said he would have married her the next day. A year later, they married at the Church of Peace, United Church of Christ in Rock Island. The mutual love and respect that defined their marriage often drew admiration from those who met the couple.

The Hennemans loved to travel. They not only continued to visit favorite international destinations after retiring but also traversed the country in their motorhome. John participated in a bowling league and enjoyed playing bridge, with his first boss as his frequent partner for the card game.

John was a longtime member of South Park Presbyterian Church, where he volunteered with the after-school tutoring program. He also served as a ruling elder of the church and on the board of its after-school drop-in center.

Most of all, John cherished spending time with his family.

Those left to honor his memory include his wife of more than 56 years, Patricia Henneman, of Rock Island; son Mark Henneman, daughter-in-law Mary Blue Henneman and grandchildren Nicholas and Ellie Henneman of Hinsdale, Ill.; son-in-law Shannon Sheley and grandchildren Brendan, John and Madeline Sheley of Naperville, Ill.; son Todd Henneman and son-in-law Craig Nakano of Long Beach, Calif.; sister Joyce Brittain and brother-in-law Bill Brittain of Dubuque; cousin Lois Volrath of Davenport; and many nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by twin daughters Amy Beth Henneman, who died shortly after birth, and Suzann Elaine Sheley, who died in 2012; his parents, brother Richard Henneman and sister Shirley Myers.

Visitation is 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Friday at Wheelan-Pressly Funeral Home, Rock Island. A celebration of his life will be 3 p.m. Saturday at South Park Presbyterian Church. Burial will be at Rock Island Memorial Park. Memorials may be made to the River Bend Foodbank, South Park Presbyterian Church, Special Olympics Illinois or the Southern Poverty Law Center

 Service Information

May 12, 2017

4:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Wheelan-Pressly Funeral Home and Crematory
3030 - 7th Avenue
Rock Island, IL 61201

Funeral Service
May 13, 2017

3:00 PM
South Park Presbyterian Church
1501 30th Street
Rock Island, IL 61201

Interment following funeral service
May 13, 2017

Rock Island Memorial Park Cemetery
4205 30th St
Rock Island, IL 61201

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