Coe College mourns the passing of campus icon George Henry

George Henry '49 Legacy With heavy hearts, Coe College mourns the passing of George Henry ’49, an alumnus and beloved campus figure known amongst Kohawks and the greater community as “Mr. Coe College.”

For decades, Henry was the official campus photographer, and through this work created an incredible legacy that will be felt for decades to come through the images he captured during his 67-year career — images that continue to hang across campus as a tribute to his uncanny ability to capture both the routine and extraordinary events that shaped Coe.

“Many a Kohawk recognized that no event was truly a Coe gathering until George appeared to capture the moment with his lens,” said Coe College President David Hayes ’93. “He will be dearly missed by all those who had the opportunity to know him and see the world through his work.”

Henry began his time with Coe in 1941, with his education interrupted due to his dedication to his country during World War II. He joined the U.S. Army Air Force in 1943 and served with distinction and valor as a B-24 bomber pilot until 1945. Although he majored in commerce and finance, he began taking photos for the Cosmos newspaper and yearbook, studying under Professor of Art Marvin D. Cone ’14. After graduating in 1949, he never left Coe.

In acknowledgment of his multi-decade role as the college photographer, the college archives were dedicated as the George T. Henry Archives in 1999. His generosity and that of his late wife, Kay, made it possible for the space to preserve his photographs, college publications, Coe-related artifacts and the history of the college. In his time at Coe, Henry photographed luminaries like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., United States presidents and foreign heads of state.

The significance of Henry’s service to Coe has been recognized further through the years. He has been the recipient of the college’s Distinguished Service Award in 1984, Alumni Award of Merit in 2004 and the Kesler Outstanding Service Award in 2018. Coe also bestowed the honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts to him in 1998.

Born and raised in Cedar Rapids, he has also left a significant mark on this city and community. Henry shared his photographic talent with Theatre Cedar Rapids, capturing over 150 productions for posterity. He also was the longest serving member of the Optimist Club, with membership spanning over 70 years.

George Henry’s Coe story:

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