Beloved husband of 53 years, father of two, and “Papa” to four grandchildren, Edward J. Henley of Hampton, New Hampshire passed away on May 18, 2021. A veteran of the United States Naval Construction Battalions, or “Seabees,” Ed was 75.
Ed grew up and spent the early part of his life in Lawrence, MA. After his military service, he got his start in the automotive business in 1967, working early in his career as a technician at Shawsheen Motormart, Nassar Ford, and others. Cars were a passion over the course of Ed’s entire life. He raced hot rods at New England dragway, traveled to Formula One and NASCAR races, and painstakingly restored a number of classic cars, including his beloved 1957 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider convertible. Ed owned and operated “Henley and Sons Automotive,” a mainstay at the corner of Pleasant and Howe Streets in Methuen, MA, for two decades, building a loyal customer base and creating lasting relationships over the years.
What made Ed special was that he would come home from work, wash off the grit and grease of his auto shop, and get to work in the kitchen. He loved entertaining, he was an extraordinarily good cook, and many poolside cookouts, celebrations, and memorable events took place at Ed’s longtime Salem, NH home. While kids splashed in the pool, Ed prepared smoked ribs and cocktails to a reggae soundtrack. “Papa’s ribs” were legendary.
He also had a green thumb, and created a spectacular backyard oasis that featured lush flowerbeds, frequent visits from wildlife, and a water garden that provided endless hours of peace and relaxation. If he wasn’t enjoying his back patio with a glass of wine, Ed was exploring his ponds with his grandchildren in search of frogs.
Ed had the travel bug, and when he stepped onto a plane, that plane was likely headed to the Caribbean. Over the years, he wiggled his toes in the sandy beaches of the British Virgin Islands, US Virgin Islands, Belize, Barbados, and many others. For Ed, there was no better cure for a long New England winter than sun and palm trees. In retirement, Ed relocated to Hampton so he could easily enjoy walking New Hampshire’s beaches with his wife.
Above all else, family was at the center of Ed’s life. He enjoyed a marriage that spanned half a century. He was deeply involved in his sons’ lives. And he thoroughly enjoyed spending time playing with his grandchildren and grand-doggy, Kaya. Ed stared down and defeated three bouts of cancer, doing so with his trademark humor, and demonstrating to his family courage in the face of adversity.
He is survived by his wife, Jeanette of Hampton, NH; his son Scot and daughter-in-law Michelle, of Madison, NH, son Todd, of Portsmouth, NH; and four grandsons, Owen (17), Cabot (15), Brennan (5), and Connor (3).
A private celebration of his life will be held this summer. Over the years, Ed received extraordinary care from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. In lieu of flowers, please make a generous gift to either of those institutions in Ed’s memory. Please send contributions to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, P.O. Box 849168, Boston, MA 02284-9168; or Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Development Office, 116 Huntington Avenue, 3rd Floor, Boston, MA 02116.Print Obituary & Condolences