Nov. 22, 1933 – Nov. 18, 2022
Henry Rosenthal lived a very active life as a loving husband and a pillar of his community. Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, he moved to the United States in 1947, at age 14.
He learned electronics in the Air Force, stationed at several bases across the country (1952-1956). Following his military service, he studied at California State University, San Diego, and eventually established a wholesale electronics supply company in Los Angeles, together with his wife, Esther, in 1979.
Henry and Esther married that same year, on Santa Catalina Island. Specializing in avionics, their business proved very successful; they sold it in 1991 and soon thereafter relocated to Point Roberts, living in temporary quarters while their house was under construction.
Henry immediately began to volunteer in the community, greeting newcomers and finding multiple ways to help others. He soon became known affectionately as the “Honorary Mayor of Point Roberts.” Together with Reverend Ernie Loreen, he helped establish the Point Roberts Food Bank; and he was one of the original community organizers of the Point Roberts Clinic.
With Esther, he helped start and lead the Point Roberts Emergency Preparedness Group (PREP) and was trained as a community emergency response team (CERT) member. Henry and Esther were also original members of the Point Roberts Wackie Walkers. As a health conscious, fit and active person – a runner and a walker – Henry was proud to still be able to don his vintage USAF uniform to the end.
In 1989, at the time of the Tiananmen Square protests in China, Henry and Esther became witness to an interesting convergence of family, place, music and international intrigue. A cousin of Henry’s, at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby became involved in protecting a young Chinese musician who did not want to return to China.
She was a world renowned pipa (Chinese lute) player who eventually became a Canadian citizen, married and formed her own performing group with her husband who plays the guitar.
For several years following the unrest in China, Henry’s cousin hid her from Chinese authorities seeking to make her return to China; and Henry and Esther were privileged to meet her and enjoy several private pipa performances at dinners with the cousin in North Burnaby.
Henry worked tirelessly to keep the food bank operating and serving local residents, primarily with food items of course, but also extending other types of assistance and support to neighbors in need in a community without easy access to social services.
Henry’s compassion and desire to help others was not confined to the south side of the border. After enlisting the assistance of a Canadian service club, Tsawwassen Order of Old Bastards (TOOB), to provide Christmas hampers to Point Roberts families one year, he was recruited to join the TOOB, becoming their first American member. Henry went on to serve on the TOOB’s executive committee for many years and, in turn, recruited several other Point Roberts residents to join. He was recognized as the recipient of the TOOB’s 2021 Honourary Lifetime Award.
On June 25, 2022, Henry was the featured honoree at the Point Roberts Volunteer Appreciation Day; and on July 4, 2022, he led the annual Independence Day parade as Grand Marshal.
Henry especially enjoyed making people laugh, either with funny jokes or tricks. He never allowed anyone to know if he was not feeling well or was in pain. He loved music and attended regular concerts in Canada and Washington. He spearheaded concerts that were presented here in Point Roberts so that people who were not able to leave Point Roberts could also be entertained. He was very good at whistling and, unknown to most, he was an accomplished mandolin player, having started at age 12, but never played in public.
Henry Rosenthal passed away just four days short of his 89th birthday, on November 18, 2022, leaving an indelible imprint on his many friends, family, and community. He is sorely missed by all of us. A celebration of life will be held Sunday, May 21 at the Point Roberts Firehall at 1 p.m.