Boyne City’s Ed Hennessey remembered as local icon

ed hennessey july 4
Ed Hennessey of Boyne City is pictured in the Boyne City Fourth of July Parade in recent years. Photo by Chris Faulknor/Boyne City Gazette


Ed Hennessey
Ed Hennessey

After a long life of 95 years, Edward H. Hennessey of Boyne City died on May 29, 2016.

Throughout his time in Boyne City, he became known for a wide variety of causes and accomplishments, including the American Legion, Boyne Valley Lions Club, Camp Quality, Camp Daggett, and more.

But, in the community of Boyne City, the person he lived to be is remembered every bit as much as the things he did.

“I referred to him as Dad, and he referred to me as John-Boy,” said Mayor and fellow Lion Ron Grunch. “He was very special to me as far as a person-veteran-dad. My wife and I took several trips with Ed and Irene. They were like family to us.”


Hennessey was born on Aug. 31, 1920, in Hamilton, Ontario.

He married Irene Reichlin, and they remained married until her death in 2011.

“Anyone who knew Ed knew the true love he shared with Irene, and how much, after her passing, he longed to be with her again,” said Fr. Francis Partridge, Sacramental Minister to the Boyne Valley Catholic Community.

“We feel sorrow in his passing, but should take joy in the fact that he is reunited with his true love.”

Hennessey served in World War II, both with the United States Navy and the Merchant Marines.

“He was a member of the Legion for several years, and transferred in from another post,” said Brian Morrison.

“I got acquainted with Ed way back when. Wilma and I became close friends with him. I got him to come to the Legion meetings with me,” said Legion Member Woody Austin

In addition, Hennessey spent a great deal of time working with the sixth precinct of the Detroit Police Department.

“Ed was a Detroit Police Officer, and he did the polygraph for the Detroit Police Department,” said County Commissioner and Former Charlevoix County Sheriff George T. Lasater. “Ed was the epitome of a townsman, he and I both enjoyed discussing and talking about the Civil War. He liked history.”

As it turns out, Hennessey’s love of history was more than a passing hobby.

“The house that he bought was one of the oldest homes in Charlevoix County,” added Lasater. “It was built by a Civil War veteran, and he was very proud of his beautiful home.”

And, yet, a mutual love of history isn’t the only thing they shared.

“Ed was very personable. I never heard anyone say anything negative about Ed Hennessey,” said Lasater. “I was honored to be considered one of his friends.”

Throughout his career, Hennessey also ran his own private investigation firm and worked security for several companies, including J.L. Hudson and the Ford Motor Company, even travelling to Europe with Henry Ford II.

Hennessey retired to Boyne City in 1981.

Once retired to Boyne City, Hennessey immediately became active in the local community.

“Ed and I worked together on a number of programs. We worked on Camp Quality for a number of years,” said Gordon Lambie. “He was also very active in the Boyne Area Community Christmas program. He was on that committee, and did a lot of the early purchasing for those baskets.”

Additionally, Hennessey was an active member of the Boyne Valley Lions Club.

“He was president on at least two or three occasions, and sponsored my wife in becoming a member,” added Lambie. “One of my favorite memories was when, to celebrate his 80th birthday, he rode the zipline at Camp Daggett. Another time, we decided to go for a ride and ended up on the shore of Lake Superior eating hot dogs.”

His work with the Community Christmas program continued until his death.

“He worked for us for about 35 years, and was such a lovable person,” said Ruth Witenski. “If I could have had a second dad, Ed would have been it. He was one in a million. He was an angel on Earth.”

Hennessey was also a very devout Catholic, as well as being active as a fourth degree knight in the Knights of Columbus.

“He is what we call an Advocate,” said John Czarniecki. “He would tell us at meetings about what was going on, or even just a funny story, and he kept the guys in stitches and always had them laughing.”

He added, “He was also a great storyteller, and had the best memory of anyone I knew.”

Hennessey will be interred at Holy Sepulcher Catholic Cemetery in Southfield, but will remain in the hearts of all who knew him throughout Northern Michigan

I first met Ed Hennessey when I was 4 years old and came to the Lions meetings with my grandfather.

Ed would place a quarter in front of me to put in the “tail twister” bank and let me put it in. He often referred to me as the “paper boy” later in life, and joked about whether we “got the scoop” that week.

I’ll always remember him for his sense of humor and devout involvement in whatever cause he took on.

Most of all, though, I’ll remember that he never quit up until his death.

I saw him at Lions meetings up until mere weeks before he died. And, personally, I can only hope to have his drive and fortitude when I hit my 90s.

I will sincerely miss him.

Ed Hennessey of Boyne City is pictured in the Boyne City Fourth of July Parade in recent years. Photo by Chris Faulknor/Boyne City Gazette
Ed Hennessey of Boyne City is pictured in the Boyne City Fourth of July Parade in recent years. Photo by Chris Faulknor/Boyne City Gazette