Kathleen E. Henning, 90 of Eau Claire passed away on Wednesday, April 13, 2022, at River Pines in Altoona.

Kathleen, Kay, Katie, Grandma, GG, Old Grandma… She went by many names, but the one constant was her impact on the people and the world around her. Even people who hadn’t met her felt touched by her and the strength she instilled in her children and those around her.

Born in a farmhouse on September 7th, 1931, she was the third of four children born to Sidney and Margaret Kyes. In November of 1951 she married Leonard Henning and they began their family on the south side of Eau Claire, eventually having two sons and three daughters, though lost one daughter at birth in 1956. In addition to her own children, she made sure to take in any number of foster children and to take Christmas gifts to families in need all over the Chippewa Valley. She was involved with the Open-Door adoption group supporting families that were adopting children from around the world.

An avid reader she loved her books and worked in the McIntyre Library at UWEC from 1962 until her retirement in 1997, though she continued working there part-time after retirement. Prior to UWEC she had been a schoolteacher at Lowes Creek while raising her family at the same time. Kay loved to drive. Secretly, and maybe not so secretly, she wanted to drive truck across the country. A world traveler she explored every continent except Antarctica and drove on almost all of them. In 1999 she drove an RV from London, England to a ferry across the English Channel and then continued right through the middle of Brussels, Belgium, doing her best Cousin Eddy impression. She was always exploring, from the Pyramids of Egypt to the Great Wall of China she traveled with her sisters and family and was always the constant companion.

One of her most loved hobbies was camping and rock collecting, she was always searching for agates and did so from campgrounds in Cumberland, WI to Little Girl’s Point, MI, on the shores of Lake Superior and in every country she visited. She loved to sing and act and was in the Peace Lutheran church choir for a number of years and also appeared in productions of the Sound of Music and Peter Pan with the local theater guild.

Kay was proceed in death by a lot of people (let’s face it, she was 90) but most notably by her parents, husband Leonard, infant daughter Peggy, daughter-in-law Jacky, sisters Margaret and Elizabeth and brother Bernard. She is survived by her children Henry (Lynne), Jeffery, Agusta, Angie and a number of grandchildren and great grandchildren.

She was the world’s biggest cheerleader with the world’s biggest lungs, you could hear her from a mile away no matter if it was a sporting event, to the chagrin of her kids and grandkids, or calling Leonard up from fishing in the creek for dinner. She was an altruistic member of the community and was constantly giving to everyone around her without ever expecting anything in return. She will be greatly missed by all who knew her.

In lieu of flowers the family would like you to donate to your local library in honor of Kay.

A visitation will be from 5:00 to 7:00 pm on Tuesday, April 19, 2022, at Smith Funeral Chapel. A memorial service will be at 11:30 am on Wednesday, April 20, 2022, at Smith Funeral Chapel. Burial will be at 2:00 pm at St. Paul’s Cemetery in Cleghorn.

Smith Funeral Chapel is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Kathleen Henning Service – Smith Funeral Chapel
Time: Apr 20, 2022 11:30 AM Central Time

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Meeting ID: 839 3532 9426
Passcode: 252270


  1. What a beautiful obituary for an exceptional woman of great accomplishment and enormous depth of spirit. This woman helped raise me, and with her sisters Elizabeth and Margaret (my mom) taught me many lessons in life. Condolences to all my cousins and their families for our collective loss, but we take joy in her reunification with the loved ones that preceded her. Deb and I will forever miss our beloved Aunt Katie.
    Scott and Deb Ryburn

  2. God gave us aunties and uncles as extra moms and dads. Aunt Katie took her job seriously and with joy and wit. Table manners were taught with a song about elbows off the table whenever we slipped up! I remember most her laughter, the special birthday cakes she made for Jesus’ every Christmas and she led us in song with her beautiful voice. Because of her help I was able to go to college to become an RN. There’s no way to thank her enough for all she did and the wonderful memories she made just for us.

  3. I was one of the many she took in .Kind and compassionate she put me onto the right track in life. She had her hands full with Jeff, Cousin Tommy and me all at the same time.

  4. I got to know “Ma” about eight years ago. She sort of took the place of my Ma who had passed. She was fun and interesting and always had a story to tell.
    I knew her through Lynne and Mic. But she bragged to me of her daughters her other son and her many grandkids. She loved her family of that you can be sure. And l loved her too and will miss her. God rest her soul.

  5. Sorry for your loss, Jeff. I never knew your mom but if you are a reflection of her, she was GREAT! Nora and I send blessings to you and your family.

  6. Beautiful soul and a life well lived. Will always cherish my childhood memories of camping and rock hunting with Kate, Len and family. Wishing you comfort and peace during this time of loss.

  7. Aunt Katie was my Godmother and she made sure I always knew Jesus. (I even named my daughter after her!) I was especially happy to see her and the girls before she went home. She was still shining! with the Holy Spirit. She has given all of us that knew her a ray of sunshine to carry us through until we all meet again. Thank you Aunt Katie!! I love you and will miss you, until we meet again. Thank you for all the childhood memories of camping and Christmas’s and being loved.
    Angie and Augusta, I see so much of your mom in both of you!
    I know you miss her but you both have the best of her in you. May your lives be blessed and happy!
    And that wish is for the entire family! I love you all and miss you.
    Kim Henning

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