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Heidi Tarr Henson

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Published in June 2022

Heidi Tarr Henson, 54, has passed away after a year of living with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

A native of Cape Ann, Heidi loved the beaches and woods of Rockport and Gloucester, in addition to her years volunteering on Thachers Island. She began working at age 12, and spent many summers chambermaiding and in the shops of Bearskin Neck. She later attended Boston College for undergrad, Harvard for her master’s, and earned a doctorate from Drake University in 1998.  Heidi spent over 30 years teaching at various universities, in addition to working as a head of human resources and running a coaching and consulting practice. Her dissertation addressed how diversity training can create attitudinal change, and she published these findings, as well as a relationship book and many articles.

Those who knew her best describe Heidi as vivacious, generous and full of fun. She was also an avid reader and writer, with a head for trivia and useless information. This earned her the affectionate nickname of “Heidichannel”, which was her email moniker since 1995. All Heidi all the time. She loved to entertain and especially to matchmake, helping to create 6 marriages (and thus earning her place in heaven).  During her time in college, she supported herself as a cook, and volunteered with the Appalachia program, an experience that further shaped her passion for helping others. After college, Heidi married and moved to Iowa, where she had her son Oliver, who is her greatest joy in life. While in Iowa, she began her teaching and human resource careers, and also founded the Drake Community Center. The Center supports at-risk youth and is open to this day. Her love of travel and learning brought Heidi to 56 countries, and she had many more trips planned. Before ALS, she was an active ocean rower and captain, a Big Sister, and frequently enjoyed dancing to live music, skeet shooting and working in her gardens.

Heidi is survived by her son Oliver Tarr Herman, parents Lesley Henson O’Neil and John O’Neil, siblings Marley O’Neil and James O’Neil, and aunt and uncle Charlene and Bud Brown. Her ashes will be sent to sea in a private Viking funeral, and a memorial service is planned for her birthday, August 18th, at the Elks Lodge in Gloucester.  In lieu of flowers, please consider making a contribution to CCALS at