Roger Lee Henneous

Roger Lee Henneous

February 28, 1937 - February 2, 2021

On Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, Roger Lee Henneous passed away.

Roger Lee Henneous (Feb. 28, 1937- Feb. 2, 2021) was the eldest child of Leonard and Myra (Stanton) Henneous of Blencoe, Iowa. Born during the Depression, his family moved many times in the early years of his life. Because of the frequent moves, he struggled to learn to read. He credited his aunt Dorothy with providing him the motivation when she gave him a copy of the first book in a series of 15 and by the time he’d finished the series he’d fallen in love with reading. Family and farm life in Iowa provided him with a solid work ethic that served him well.

He graduated from Blencoe High School in 1956. He enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard. Although he never learned to swim, he passed basic training and was eventually assigned to a base in Alaska, where he was told that knowing how to swim wouldn’t matter much as it was hypothermia that would kill him if he went overboard. He served four years and was honorably discharged February 1961. He was hired at Freightliner Truck Company in Portland, Ore.

In September of 1964 Roger heard about Rose Merrie (Snooky) Peterson through a mutual friend, he invited her on a blind date to the Pendleton RoundUp. It was a day trip from Portland, and Roger wasn’t feeling well that day, in fact, he felt so ill that Rose Merrie had to drive them back to Portland. Rose Merrie thought he wasn’t interested because she didn’t hear from him again for two weeks. He finally got around to calling her again and they married Dec. 31, 1964. He always referred to his wife (and later included his daughters) as the high water marks of his life. Unhappy painting trucks for Freightliner, Rose Merrie told him he needed to find a different job or a different wife. She searched and found his match when the zoo was hiring keepers. He spent 30 years at the zoo, retiring in 1998.

He and Rose Merrie moved to Bend, Ore., following her retirement in 1999. He was a regular blood donor (every six weeks), and an avid outdoorsman. Roger is best remembered for his strong sense of loyalty, unshakable work ethic, love of animals, quick wit, and inability to string more than six words together without mixing in profanity.

He is profoundly missed by those that loved him. You can read more about his life and career years in “Elephant Speak; A Devoted Keeper’s Life Among the Herd” by Melissa Crandall.

Roger was preceded in death by his parents; and younger sister, Virginia Karin (Aug. 31, 2020). He was survived by wife, Rose Merrie; brother, Donald Henneous (Beverly); daughters, Michelle Plaschka (John) and Melissa Mayes (Roger); three grandchildren; one great-grandchild; and several nieces and nephews.