Gerhard "Gerry" Hencky

Gerhard "Gerry" R. Hencky

Dec. 28, 1924 – Feb. 2, 2014

Born in Delft, Holland, Gerry had a nomadic childhood which was greatly affected by the turmoil of World War II.  His German born father Heinrich and Russian mother Alexandra Judezkaya first brought Gerry and his older sister Lydia to the U.S. in 1929.  After teaching at the Technical University in Delft, Gerry's father was able to land a position as Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT in 1930. Three years later, Gerry's father lost his job at MIT in the middle of the Great Depression and moved the family to a potato farm in Lisbon, New Hampshire.  After several difficult years on the farm, Heinrich accepted a position in Kharkov, Russia as a professor in Technical Mechanics in 1936.  During this time, Gerry attended a Russian school in Kharkov for about a year before he was again uprooted. The expulsion of all foreigners from Russia forced Gerry and his family to take refuge in Mainz, Germany with his father's brother Karl.

Gerry's father eventually found work near Mainz in 1938, but fearing for the future of his children in Nazi Germany, he sent Gerry and his sister Lydia on a return voyage to the U.S in May of that same year. Gerry boarded with a family friend on the south side of Chicago and graduated from Hyde Park High School in 1942.  He was extremely close with his older sister Lydia, who found work at St. Lukes Hospital as an X-Ray department transcriber and lived in their nurses quarters.  Gerry attended the University of Illinois in Urbana for one year before being drafted into the Army in 1943 and becoming a U.S. citizen.  He was able to attend the College of Medicine at the University of Illinois under the G.I bill, graduating in 1948.  He then moved to California and did his internship at Highland Hospital in Oakland, where he met Grace Hyde, whom he married in 1949.  Gerry did his residency at Stanford University Hospital from 1950-53 while Dr. Hyde remained at Highland hospital as a pathologist.  Finishing up his military service from 1953-55 as a Captain, Gerry commuted to the U.S. Army hospital in Fort Ord.  In 1955, he and Grace moved to Orinda, where he began a lengthy career as a practicing radiologist, first at Richmond and Brookside Hospitals for more than 30 years and then on a part-time basis at the Rossmoor Clinic in Walnut Creek until he was almost 80 years old.

Gerry was profoundly affected by his sister Lydia's premature death from kidney disease in 1962, describing it as the greatest trauma of his life.  He never saw his father again after 1938 and saw his mother only a handful of times before her death in 1969.  An active mountaineer, his father died in 1951 in an avalanche.  Like his father, Gerry was highly intelligent and a voracious reader. He was able to speak articulately about almost any subject and was particularly interested in history and politics.  He loved to travel, whether it was scenic car rides along the N. California coast or longer trips tracing his roots across Europe.  For a period in the 60's, he even maintained a private pilot's license.

In 1975, Gerry married his second wife Beverley Jean Bovo and settled in the Fairfield home where he would spend the remainder of his years with "Bev" until she passed away in 2003.  Gerry is survived by his children, Sharran and Alan, their mother Grace Hyde,  grandchildren Chris, Rachel, Nathan, and Afton, nephew Bill, nieces Katy and Jean, and Bev's son Barry and his daughter Genisse.

A celebration of his life will be held in Oakland on Saturday February 22 at 2pm.  Please RSVP to or call 510.338.3975.

Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Feb. 9, 2014