Duane Allan Henry, a colorful former newspaperman and advertising agency owner who played a pivotal role in getting Havre de Grace recognized as the "Decoy Capital of the World," died Dec. 14 of heart failure at the Veterans Medical Center at Perry Point.
The Havre de Grace resident was 85.
The son of a railroader and a saleswoman, Duane Allen Henry was born and raised in Olean, N.Y., where he graduated from high school.
During World War II, he served in the Navy as a gunner's mate on a Landing Craft Tank and participated in the Battle of Leyte Gulf.
After the war, Mr. Henry settled in Bainbridge and worked as a newspaperman. During the 1960s, he established his own newspaper, the JoppaTowne News Journal, whose name he later changed to the News Advertiser.
"He did it all. He sold the ads, wrote the stories, took the photographs and laid out the paper," said his wife of 33 years, the former Christianne Lowe.
"Duane was a maverick. His paper came out a day before The Aegis did, and when he could, he scooped us," said Todd Holden, a longtime friend and former Aegis reporter and photographer.
"The Aegis hated him but I liked him for his brashness and 'don't give a damn' attitude. He was not the establishment. He was a renegade in the news business," said Mr. Holden.
Mr. Holden recalled when he and Mr. Henry covered a Ku Klux Klan rally in Cecil County.
"I came back with pictures and a story and he got arrested because he was not taking photos where he was told to shoot," he said.
The two competing reporters often shared news tips and went on jobs together.
"I got a tip on the first big drug raid on the county line near the Club 40. This was in the 1960s. So I told Duane and we sat in a field across the road the night of the raid," he said.
"Four hours in the field and then suddenly two rows of police cars from the State Police and Harford and Baltimore counties rolled west on Route 40 and circled the bar. I'd never seen anything like it," he said.
"Off we went across the road, camera in hand. Duane goes roaring in shooting pictures while I stayed outside until it was clear, and then went in," recalled Mr. Holden. "That's the kind of rogue reporter he was. He was fearless."
Mr. Holden recalled a Christmas Eve when a Frederick County couple's car had been hit by a train.
"I was having dinner with my parents when Duane called. He said, 'Don't worry, I'll get some shots for you.' And they were the same ones that he used and we used. That's the kind of friend he was," he said.
Mr. Henry eventually left journalism in the early 1970s, when he established Henry Advertising in Havre de Grace, which he owned and operated for about a decade.
In the late 1970s, Mr. Henry and his wife established the Susquehanna Trading Co., a Havre de Grace decoy shop, adjacent to their historic North Union Avenue home. The couple were also founders and charter life members of the Havre de Grace Decoy Museum.
"The Susquehanna Trading Co. was the very first local retail outlet for most all of the up-and-coming young carvers from the region," said C. John Sullivan Jr., former director of the state Department of Assessments and Taxation.
"He was a huge figure in the decoy world and brought attention to Havre de Grace. He was the one who made Havre de Grace the Decoy Capital of the World. He put the city on the map," said Mr. Sullivan.
"Duane's marketing skills and innovative merchandising of local carvers' work brought attention to the decoys of the region's youngest folk artists," said Mr. Sullivan, a decoy expert and collector who is the author of "Waterfowling on the Chesapeake 1819-1936" and "Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, Decoys & Long Guns: Tales of Carroll's Island Ducking Club."
Mr. Sullivan said the couple's store gained a national reputation and became a "must visit destination" for those who traveled to Havre de Grace.
"For decoy collectors of both contemporary and vintage birds there was but one place to go, and that was Duane Henry's," he said.
Mr. Sullivan explained that his friendship with Mr. Henry went back three decades.
"He was a character. … In more recent years, Duane and I would walk just down the street to Vancherie's Union Avenue Cafe. We would talk decoys over breakfast as Duane would greet and chat with the locals," he said.
Mr. Henry, who also did some waterfowl carving himself, was a collector of a noted local decoy carver, R. Madison Mitchell, who died in 1991 and whom many consider to be the dean of the Upper Chesapeake Bay carvers.
Mr. Henry closed the store in the late 1990s.
Mr. Henry had also been the organizer and coordinator of the annual Havre de Grace Antique Street Fair.
In recent years, Mr. Henry and Mr. Holden were writing a book together recalling their newspaper days.
"We were going to call it 'Duane and Me: Stories of Rogue Reporters in the Sixties.' That was the working title, and then he got sick and we weren't able to finish it," said Mr. Holden.
Funeral services will be held at noon Wednesday at the Lee A. Patterson & Son Funeral Home, 1493 Clayton St., Perryville.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Henry is survived by two daughters, Susan Retchless of Olean, N.Y., and Barbara Hardie of Deer Isle, Maine; a stepdaughter, Christina Carty of Colora; a brother, Paul Henry of Williamsville, N.Y.; a sister, Norma Hendrix of Olean; six grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren. A son, Duane Allen Henry Jr., died in 1992. Two previous marriages ended in divorce.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly spelled Mr. Henry's middle name and Christianne Henry's first name. The Sun regrets the errors.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun