Paul Robert Henriques (1939–2001): English Editor

SWET lost a much-loved, longtime member when Paul Henriques passed away on August 27 after being hospitalized for a stroke. A number of SWET members paid tribute to him at his memorial service and reminisced about Paul at the summer party on September 1. He was sorely missed, but surely present in spirit.

Born in New York, Paul spent most of his adult life in Japan. He worked at a number of places, among them the Industrial Bank of Japan, St. Margaret’s Junior College, and as a book reviewer for the Japan Times. Among his many accomplishments, say his son and daughter-in-law, Peter and Sherri Henriques, he was proudest of his doctoral degree and his Cessna pilot’s license.

At the memorial service, Peter and Sherri remembered him as “a loving, gentle man who cared a lot about people, especially those close to him. Dad always expressed his love and support for us, which we really appreciated. We did not always agree on various matters, but we respected him for his honesty and straightforwardness, as we knew he always had our best interests in mind. Although he was quite serious at times, he had a great sense of humor and always kept us laughing with his silly jokes. He was a very dedicated employee who worked hard and efficiently so that he could spend his leisure time doing what he truly enjoyed. We will cherish all the wonderful memories and will miss him dearly.”

Yoko Henriques, Paul’s wife, described him as a “shy boy” who would have been embarrassed by the spotlight we shine on him here. She hopes that he will feel honored by this first and last appearance in the newsletter. Yoko wrote that she has 26 years of wonderful memories with Paul. Among the memories, Yoko says that Paul was one of the first non-Japanese fans of Takarazuka. His enthusiasm for this all-girl review dated from before the Shinkansen trains were running. The troupe members treasured him in return. For another, Paul studied Japanese through Sazae-san. That meant their Sunday night ritual was to sit together munching edamame and pretzels, and drinking beer while they watched the cartoon on TV. Finally, he was proud to be a member of SWET. He participated regularly at monthly meetings and enjoyed meeting people. Paul never missed a single SWET party and would have been at the one on September 1, beer in hand, had he been alive. Paul loved Japan and put down his roots here for 40 years. He was buried at the Foreigners’ Cemetery in Yokohama.

For SWET members, Paul was an influential force. He joined SWET in 1992. Dennis Schneider says he was “a pioneer in computer use and computer communications in Japan.” He was deeply involved with TWICS, one of the earliest commercial e-mail ventures in Japan. “We were an online community that took the extra step of meeting face to face now and again.” On the personal side, Dennis described Paul as “modest, helpful, witty (with self-deprecating humor), cheerful, and he always added some extra spice to any meeting, whether face-to-face or online. One hell of a nice guy, and the world is a drearier place without him.”

Many of us may have only known Paul from SWET-L. The first word of his passing came to the list on September 8. Terri Nii notified us that, “The sudden loss of a dearly beloved member, Paul Henriques, has deeply affected many people. His hospitalization during the middle of August, and then his passing on August 27, was such a shock that I guess many members have not felt up to writing on the list. He was so warm and friendly to even people like me, on the fringe of his world.” Eve Sanders wrote, “Paul was indeed a lovely man. We’ve lost a light of kindness and a warm heart.”

A number of people kindly shared tributes and memories. Lynne Riggs noted to Yoko, “We missed Paul very much at the September 1 party. Before we disbanded, we took time to remember Paul. He was indeed a great guy.”

Mark Schilling sent his own very personal memory of Paul. “Paul was one of the first people to notice my reviews and compliment me on them, a kindness for which I will be eternally grateful. In any case, Paul was a warm, welcoming presence whenever I met him, usually at parties held by SWET. He was an unfailing energy source in a community all too much in need of that. I will miss him.”

Another tribute came from Mike McDonald. “It was a surprise to hear Paul described as shy. To me he was always the life and soul of the SWET parties; indeed, many of them would never have happened without the organizational flair of Paul and Yoko. In retrospect, perhaps, what I took for excessive modesty in his conversation may have been partly shyness, but in all probability the modesty and shyness were two sides of the same coin. At the nijikai he seemed to open up, and the wit and erudition flowed freely. May his spirit continue to preside over SWET parties!”

Our thanks to all those who shared their memories with those of us who did not have the chance to know Paul better. We appreciate this opportunity to learn more about a fine man.

Originally published in the SWET Newsletter, No. 95 (December 2001), pp. 16–17.


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