Sacha Henchman
Sacha Henchman

Sacha Henchman died unexpectedly at the age of fifty on October 1st, 2021 at his home in San Francisco. His father, Michael Henchman, had died only four months earlier in Concord, Massachusetts.
Sacha leaves his mother, Kitsie Henchman-Sallet, his sister, Anna Henchman, his niece, Alexandra Henchman-Biel, Alexandra's father, Steve Biel, and her brother and sister, Jake and Olivia Biel, as well as Alena Eckhardt. He also leaves his stepfather, Herbert Sallet, his stepmother, Kate Henchman, and his stepbrothers, Alex and Nicko van Someren, as well as his aunt, Sally David, and his cousin, Gary David, and his family, all of whom live in France.
After high school in Massachusetts, Sacha moved to California. He received his BS and MS degrees in Civil/Environmental Engineering from Stanford University. After returning to Massachusetts and living for a few years in Cambridge, working for Metcalf and Eddy, an engineering company, Sacha missed California.
His former roommate at Stanford and fellow member of the cycling team, Jeremy Hermann, persuaded Sacha to return to California and to work with him as an apprentice software developer in San Francisco. However, frustrated by the realization that tech work was not for him, Sacha quickly found an internship with a cabinet maker, which got him started with woodworking and carpentry.
Jeremy writes : "Freshman year at Stanford, we traveled together to cycling races on the weekends and grew very close. Sacha was fearless and aggressive in the peloton and crashed more than anyone else on the team (perhaps combined), but that never deterred him. He persisted and eventually became captain of the team. We spent tons of time cooking together, and he taught me recipes and tricks that he had learned from his father, a fantastic cook and gourmand. I still smash garlic with the side of a knife blade the way he did. And I still have the kitchen utensils that he fashioned for us out of old bike parts."
In 2007, Sacha founded Stingray Builders with his friend and fellow adventurer, Jeff Couture.
Jeff writes: "Sacha's meticulous attention to detail, masterful efficiency, and irrepressible passion to organize quickly earned him a reputation as a top echelon builder. He delivered the highest quality projects to homeowners and small businesses at relatively affordable prices. He would work with architects and clients to optimize their designs for best building practices, including green building and energy efficiency. Because of Sacha's highly developed aesthetic skills, some clients would forego the architect and work directly with Sacha as a designer and builder.
In 2011, Sacha and his good friend, Jeny Smith, purchased the property at 13 Lucky Street. At just 825 square feet, it may be the smallest residential property in San Francisco. Yet with his keen sense of space and eye for design, he drafted plans to fit an airy and spacious family home on the lot. Using his skills as a Passiv Haus designer, he included in his design a goal of Net-Zero energy consumption. With site permits Sacha was looking forward to securing the final building permit and breaking ground soon.
With all his talents, Sacha always remained humble and approachable. Through the years Sacha had the opportunity to mentor dozens of young builders. He had a gift for breaking tasks down in a way that his apprentices could easily follow. Moreover, he would teach his methodologies to ensure that his students grew to work as efficiently and expertly as he did himself. While Jeff will keep Sacha's legacy alive with Stingray Builders, his contributions will be greatly missed."
A friend of twenty years, Sarah Haggerty, writes: "Sacha was a tender soul with a sarcastic wit, quiet yet always present and quick with a cheeky response to everything. He had an expansive network of friends. Sacha crossed over into many different worlds, covering a wide range: intellects and engineers from Stanford, designers and builders from San Francisco, rock climbers, road cyclists, mountain bikers, motorcyclists, kite surfers, tennis players and, of course, Burning Man and the eccentric group of misfits and artists that thrive in the Bay Area.
Sacha gave his heart through his talents. He had excellent woodworking skills. He was always tinkering, whether it was on his van, bikes or motorcycles, building hanging pot racks out of recycled materials or nests in the corners of small apartments to make a guest room, or customizing people's vans for the nomadic life of climbers, kiters, and dreamers. And he was always teaching someone to kite or bike or fix something.
For such a gentle, kind man, he was an aggressive and adventurous athlete. He was a "semi-pro" road cyclist. He followed the Tour de France religiously, but not as a fan sitting on a couch, watching television. Sacha was also a mountain biker, strapping his bike and often countless others' bikes onto the back of his van to take them on extreme rides, to fling themselves off huge rocks, balance along logs, and climb mountains. He coined the phrase "kite-mare" and had many injuries from doing things that other people would never dream of doing."
In Sacha's biography of his mother, written at the age of 10, a recurring theme was independence in personal decision making. He wrote: "She wants her kids to make their own decisions and participate in family decisions with an independent spirit."
Sacha's best friend in high school, Mike Majors, writes that, at 15, they took a bike trip through Maine and New Hampshire. At 16, they biked sections of the Tour de France on a seven-week bike trip through the French Alps and the Pyrenees. And at 18, they biked from Rome into Tuscany, where, having fallen in love with Siena, they lingered for several nights before biking to Florence and then northeast to Venice, ending their expedition in the Dolomites.
Over twenty years later, Sacha and his French cousin, Gary, shared an unforgettable adventure in the French Alps, camping in the high alpine fields under Sacha's tarp. The mountain passes they biked over included le col d'Isoard, le col du Lautaret, le col de la Croix de Fer, and le col du Galibier. They kept in touch online with their colleagues at work, Sacha's at Stingray in San Francisco, and Gary's at the hospital in Villefranche-sur-Saône, charging their phones at rest areas in the valleys.
A west coast memorial for Sacha will be held in California this fall, and an east coast memorial will be held in Massachusetts next spring or summer.
A memorial « Altar for Sacha » has been created online, a place to share photographs and words. Anyone wishing to share their words or images may send them to: [email protected]
A memorial « Tribute » has also been created online, to share videos. The link for the Tribute is: Jeny Smith invites people to share their videos on the Tribute. If anyone needs help, they may email her. ([email protected]) Videos submitted by November 4th may be shown at Sacha's west coast memorial.
Published by San Francisco Chronicle from Oct. 22 to Oct. 24, 2021.
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Bob Holden and Holly Hosmer
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