Law School and Legal Community Mourn Loss of Robert Henson
JULY 18, 2012—Robert F. Henson (’50), a founding partner of Henson & Efron and its president for nearly 40 years, passed away June 23, 2012, in Minneapolis at age 87. In its online notice, the firm called him the epitome of "what every lawyer should aspire to be."
After beginning his legal career with Gray Plant Mooty, Henson left in 1966 to form his own firm with Stanley Efron (’53). A practice that began as general corporate work and litigation evolved into commercial litigation and, eventually, family law. Throughout his career, Henson was known for his unwavering integrity.
Joseph Dixon Jr. (’69), a former managing partner who joined Henson & Efron in 1971, fondly recalls Henson’s early advice: "You want to walk out of the courtroom knowing you’ve done your best." Retired Hennepin County District Court Judge Richard B. Solum (’69) received similar mentoring and says that Henson taught him "how to be a lawyer in the best sense of the word. His ability as a lawyer was exceeded only by a pervasive sense of ethics and a deep sense of character."
Henson attended U.S. Navy Officer Training and served for three years as an assistant gunnery officer on destroyer U.S.S. John Bole before attending the Law School. He graduated third in his class, Order of the Coif, in 1950 and returned in 1966-67 to teach legal ethics as an adjunct professor. Henson retired from practice in 2007 after becoming disabled following a 2004 aortic aneurysm repair.
The Twin Cities legal community has benefited extensively from Henson's contributions. He was a long-time member and former president of the Hennepin County Bar Association and chaired its Ethics Committee. In awarding Henson its Professionalism Award in 1995, the bar association noted that he was "a sterling example of what is right with the profession."
Henson served on the Minnesota State Bar Association Board of Governors (1969-1972) and chaired its Client Security Fund (1972-74); was a member of the Minnesota Lawyers Board of Professional Responsibility from 1977-82 and chair from 1982-86; and served on the Minnesota Supreme Court's Study Committee on Code of Judicial Conduct, chaired its Study Committee on Prepaid Legal Services, and co-chaired its Advisory Committee on Lawyer Discipline. He also held leadership roles on the Hennepin County Mental Health Board, Hennepin County Health & Welfare Council, Legal Aid Society, and other legal and civic organizations.
Dixon, now practicing dispute resolution with Henson & Efron, says that Henson molded the firm in his image. "He taught us how to represent our clients ethically, honestly and effectively. He was a great friend and steadfast colleague."
Henson was preceded in death by his wife of nearly 60 years, Jean, in 2006. He is survived by sons Robert Jr., Tom, David, and Steven; daughters Sandra Curfman and Laura Henson; and 17 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.