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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Milton G. Henschel (1920 - 2003)

MILTON G. HENSCHEL, a longtime member of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, finished his earthly course on Saturday, March 22, 2003. He was 82 years old.

As a young man, Milton Henschel joined the headquarters staff of Jehovah’s Witnesses and served faithfully for well over 60 years. He quickly became known for his good judgment and sincere interest in the Kingdom-preaching work. In 1939 he became secretary to N. H. Knorr, who was then the overseer of the Brooklyn printery of Jehovah’s Witnesses. When Brother Knorr began to take the lead among the Witnesses worldwide in 1942, he kept Brother Henschel as his assistant. Brother Henschel married Lucille Bennett in 1956, and together they shared the joys and challenges of life.

Brother Henschel worked closely with Brother Knorr until Knorr’s death in 1977. Often at Brother Knorr’s side, Brother Henschel traveled to over 150 countries, visiting and encouraging Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world, especially missionaries and those in branch offices. Such travels were arduous at times, even dangerous. In 1963 when visiting a convention in Liberia, Brother Henschel was a victim of vicious persecution for refusing to take part in a patriotic ceremony. Undaunted, Brother Henschel returned to Liberia just a few months later to meet with the president of the country and to seek greater freedom of worship for Jehovah’s Witnesses there.

In handling difficult problems and challenges, Brother Henschel had a reputation for being practical, flexible, and reasonable. His associates particularly valued his orderliness, his modesty, and his sense of humor. Blessed with a remarkable memory, he delighted many missionaries around the world with his ready knowledge of their names, a phrase or two in the local language, and a witty quip—which he delivered with a twinkle in his eyes.

Micah 6:8 reminds us that Jehovah God wants us “to love kindness.” Milton Henschel will be remembered for setting an example in that regard. Despite his heavy load of responsibility, he remained approachable, gentle, and kind. He was fond of saying, “When in doubt, remember that the kind thing is the right thing.” While we grieve the loss of this beloved brother, we rejoice that he endured faithfully to the end, assured of receiving his reward, “the crown of life.”—Revelation 2:10.

- August 15, 2003 Watchtower, WTB&TS

Milton Henschel, 72; Executive Who Led Jehovah's Witnesses

Milton G. Henschel, a member since 1971 of the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses, which looks after their religious programs around the world, died on March 22 at his Brooklyn home. He was 72.

The Jehovah's Witnesses' public information office did not give a cause.

He lived in the complex of buildings in Brooklyn Heights that is the world headquarters of the Jehovah's Witnesses, a Christian denomination founded in the late 19th century that believes the end of the world is near and advocates door-to-door evangelism.

Mr. Henschel was a member of the staff of the world headquarters since 1939 and was the president since 1992 of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society Inc. of Pennsylvania and the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society Inc. of New York State, two of the corporations that the Jehovah's Witnesses use to conduct their business affairs, which include publishing Bibles.

He was also president of the International Bible Students Association. A native of Pomona, N.J., Milton George Henschel had several years of religious training at Jehovah's Witnesses training institutions in Brooklyn Heights. He was ordained a Jehovah's Witness minister in 1934 and traveled to 150 countries while overseeing, and taking part in, ministry activity.

Surviving are his wife, Lucille; and a brother, Warren, of Canada.

Correction: April 2, 2003, Wednesday An obituary on Sunday about Milton Henschel, a member of the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses, misstated his age. He was 82, not 72.

- New Yourk Times, March 30, 2003

Milton George Henschel (August 9, 1920 - March 22, 2003) was a member of the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses and succeeded Frederick W. Franz as president of the Watch Tower Society in 1992.

Milton Henschel was born in Pomona, New Jersey. His father, Herman George Henschel assisted in the establishment of the Watch Tower Society's farm on Staten Island, working with and mentoring the staff about once each week during the 1920s. The family relocated to Brooklyn, New York in 1934 to enable Herman to work on construction projects in the printeries and residences for Jehovah's Witnesses' headquarters there.

Milton was baptized as a Jehovah's Witness minister in 1934, and joined the full-time Watch Tower staff in 1939. His older brother, Warren, was a full-time minister assigned to Oregon until he was invited to serve at the Brooklyn facility around 1940. In 1956, Henschel married Lucille Bennett, a graduate of the 14th class of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead and a former missionary in Venezuela. Henschel died on March 22, 2003 at age 82, survived by his wife Lucille and brother Warren.

Professional life

In 1939, Henschel was appointed secretary to Nathan H. Knorr, who was overseeing work at the Watch Tower printery. After Knorr became president of the Watch Tower Society in 1942, Henschel continued as his assistant. Henschel was often with Knorr in his travels, visiting at least 150 countries during this time. By 1945, Henschel was a featured speaker at international events though only 25 years old.

By 1947 Henschel had claimed to be "anointed" —not unusual among Jehovah's Witnesses at the time—which was a criterion at the time for appointment as a director of the Watch Tower Society. Henschel was elected to the board of directors in 1947, after the death of W. E. Van Amburgh (since 1903 Secretary-Treasurer of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society), who died on February 7 of that year.

By 1960, Henschel was a zone overseer, supervising and auditing the administrative and ministry activities of about 10% of the Watch Tower Society's branch offices.

In March, 1963, Henschel was among a large group of Jehovah's Witnesses who were detained and assaulted during a religious conference in Liberia. He returned a few months later to meet with Liberia's president to discuss freedom of worship for Jehovah's Witnesses. In June, 1963, Henschel was a guest on a talk show hosted by Larry King.

In a July, 1968 interview with the Detroit Free Press, Henschel was asked about the Watch Tower Society's recently stated opposition to organ transplants, to which he responded that "transplanting organs is really cannibalism", a position that was abandoned in 1980. In the same interview, Henschel described the Watch Tower view of the immediate future, making reference to the impending battle of Armageddon. He conceded that there was no specific date for the outbreak of Armageddon, but stated, "1975 is a year to watch," alluding to Jehovah's Witnesses' belief that 6000 years of mankind's existence would be reached that year, an apparent precursor to Christ's millennial reign.

By 1973, Henschel was "branch overseer for the United States". Henschel contributed to the book Religions of America (1975), edited by Leo Rosten, with the chapter "Who are Jehovah's Witnesses?". In 1984, Henschel was the chairman for the centennial commemoration of the incorporation of the Watch Tower Society.

In February 1990, Henschel met with the chairman of the Committee of Religious Affairs in Moscow, along with eleven Russian elders representing local Jehovah's Witnesses, which led to the official recognition of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia by March 1991.

Henschel became president of the Watch Tower Society December 30, 1992 and remained in that position until 2000. Major organizational changes took place in 2000, as the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses was separated from the Society's board of directors. As a result, members of the Governing Body stepped aside from their capacities in the Watch Tower Society, and Don A. Adams was appointed president. Henschel remained a member of the Governing Body until his death in 2003.

- From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 11/28/2010