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‘Our go-to guy’: Members of Sykesville fire company mourn loss of longtime member

Ralph Curtis Henson, long time member of the Sykesville-Freedom District Fire Department, died on March 14.
Ralph Curtis Henson, long time member of the Sykesville-Freedom District Fire Department, died on March 14.(Courtesy Photo)

The Sykesville-Freedom District Fire Department is mourning a member who served for more than a half-century.

Ralph Henson, who was born Jan. 9, 1937 in Laytonsville and moved around Maryland a lot until his parents settled down in Sykesville, was with the Sykesville-Freedom District Fire Department for 63 years and served his community in a variety of ways before his death on March 14.

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Henson was an electrician by trade and many of those in Henson’s life knew him as someone they could count on.

“You could find him at times being our go-to guy,” said Dennis Beard, a friend of Henson’s. “Let’s say they needed something from Home Depot; Ralph would hop in the utility vehicle and go out to Home Depot and get whatever or if we needed to go to take some something to a repair shop.”

Henson’s niece, Kelly Straub, supported this claim.

“As far as just looking out for us and stepping in to give us rides home when my parents couldn’t, he was kind of like the go-to guy in the family,” said Straub.

Ralph Curtis Henson, long time member of the Sykesville-Freedom District Fire Department before he died on March 14.
Ralph Curtis Henson, long time member of the Sykesville-Freedom District Fire Department before he died on March 14.(Courtesy Photo)

According to Beard, Henson served as a line officer, a member of the board of directors and was most active with their fundraising efforts in recent years.

Henson was also known as a bachelor by close friends and family since he never married and never had kids but will be remembered as a beloved uncle by his 31 nieces and nephews.

“He was a really wonderful uncle,” said Straub. “We loved the fact that we had an uncle who worked with the carnivals. the fire department, fireman’s fair and he would always get us tickets and it was a fun ride so we always appreciated that when we were kids.”

Henson and other members would wire up the carnival grounds every year and other electrical needs for the department, according to Beard.

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According to Straub, Henson knew his way around the kitchen.

“He loved to bake. He would always be making pies and cakes and salads and friendship bread to give people,” said Straub. “That’s kind of how he showed love to people was through his baking and sharing the holidays and things with them."

Straub said Henson’s body was being donated to science upon his request.

“In the last week of his life, he thought that with his issues and stuff that maybe he could help people if he donated his body,” said Straub. “He really wanted to do that.”

According to Beard, the Sykesville-Freedom District Fire Department will hold a memorial service but the time is yet to be determined as they are dealing with making arrangements amid the coronavirus crisis.

“We don’t know when it’s going to be because of the coronavirus,” said Straub. “We have to wait until that really kind of clears."

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Said Beard: “It’ll be an open service. We’ll be able to come in and honor Ralph."

Henson is survived by his siblings Henry Douglas (Nikki) Henson, of Sykesville; Mae Katherine Kefauver, of Sykesville; Mark Allen (Pat) Henson, of San Diego, California; and Dennis William (Velia) Henson of San Diego. Along with his 31 nieces and nephews, Henson had numerous grand and great nieces and nephews.

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