Claude Forney Henson was born in Livingston on April 13, 1931, the youngest of five boys, to Earl and Bessie (Forney) Henson. He was raised in Paradise Valley among many relatives who helped settle that valley starting in 1879. He moved to San Bernardino, California, when he was 10 years old so his father could find work during the Depression. He contributed to the household finances by raising chinchillas and selling them to UCLA. He graduated from Colton High School in 1949, and left for Livingston as soon as his last class ended, not even staying for his graduation ceremony. He met his future wife, Carol Fuher, at a New Year’s Eve dance, and they married a little more than a year later on Feb. 9, 1951. They celebrated one month shy of 67 years together before Carol passed away in 2018.
Claude received his military draft notice the day after his wedding and served in the Army until 1956. He told us the story of when he hitchhiked, in his uniform, from Massachusetts to Livingston for Christmas in 1954. He never had to wait long for a ride along the way because a soldier in uniform would always be given a ride.
Claude had a successful career with Kraft Foods (1962 to 1986), living in Glasgow, Billings, Fargo, and ending in Chicago. He retired to Bozeman for the next 12 years and then back to Billings. He was a faithful Christian and served as deacon at the Church of Christ for many years. Thank you to Preacher Bill for his kindness and respect to Dad when Dad felt the need to point out any errors that were printed in the church bulletin. His next love was sports, sports, sports, and he was thrilled to live to see his great-granddaughters participate in their high school sports. He was his family’s biggest supporter in anything they did, from their jobs to activities. He was an avid golfer, bowler, hunter and fisherman.
In his retirement, he volunteered with the Billings Crime Prevention, in which he received the 2010 Volunteer-of-the-Year award; delivered Meals on Wheels until his heart attack at age 84; and walked the mall weekday mornings with the Noyes, Shaws and Prinkkis. The friends would then go to IGA for the “best maple bars in town” and coffee. He was admired for his strong work ethic and helping others with anything they might need. He was never late for anything in his life and the words “energizer bunny” were heard from time to time. If there was a need, Claude was first in line to help, and most of the time, it was with his buddy, Keith. He made many lifetime friends along the way — once a friend, always a friend.
Claude died of natural causes on Nov. 10, 2020.
He leaves behind three of his four children: Don (Diana) Henson of Bozeman, Holly (Mitch) King and Richard (Anne) Henson of Billings. His son, Rob, died in 2001. Grandchildren are Christy Henson, Shawn Henson, Justin King, Jaclyn Lewis, Jennifer Simmons, Eric Henson, Sara Lukkason, Katie Henson, Emily Henson, Mykal Eden; and 13 great-grandchildren.
The family wants to thank the West Park Village staff for the excellent care he received for the past two years and the way he was encouraged to participate in activities, such as calling BINGO. Thank you to his church family and friends for their visits, cards and calls that brightened his day.
You may send condolence cards in care of Holly King at 279 Waterton Way, Billings, MT 59102.
Because of Covid concerns, a family service at the grave site in Livingston is planned for a later date.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in Claude and Carol’s names to: The YBC Foundation, Attn: Bill Goben, 766 Tepee Trail, Billings, MT 59105. This was a special place in their hearts since 1956.