This is the story of Robert Gene Hensley, aka Bob. Bob was a selfless, humble man who was loved, is missed, and will always be cherished. Our “Poppy,” as we affectionately named him, was a man who loved deeply and literally gave many “shirts off his back” to family, friends, and neighbors alike.
Bob’s story starts on February 9th, 1927, the oldest of three boys to Haskell and (Bonnie) Faye (Erb) Hensley. Bob was born in Crothersville, IN. He had a younger brother of 4 years, Richard L. Hensley, and a baby brother, Randal Neil, who died as an infant. The Hensley’s had an orchard on their farm, and Bob enjoyed helping his mom pick apples and fruit. His kindness came from his mom Faye, who would make pies, leave them on the window sill, and take Bob and Richard to town. Upon their return, the pies would be stolen. Instead of getting upset, Bob told how she would say “I guess they needed that pie more than we did.” Although Bob lost his mother when he was 12 years old, this heart of giving continued through the rest of his life.
Bob joined the Navy in his late teens, and he was assigned to a hospital ship, the U.S.S. Sanctuary, where he worked as an engine mechanic. It was WW2, and The Sanctuary was the first medical ship to visit Nagasaki after the hydrogen bomb dropped. Their mission was to liberate prisoners of war in the mountains. He told many stories to all who would listen about what he saw there and what he experienced. He had amazing story telling skills that made you feel like you were right there next to him! He expressed how much he respected the Japanese people that he came across there. This bravery continued through the rest of his life.
In 1948, he met the love his life Agnes “Nanny” Stamper (Hensley) and made her his bride when he was 21 years old. “Poppy” adored Agnes and went on to raise 3 children, Phyllis Moore-Whitesell (Chris), Robert Michael Hensley (Tamra), and Mark Alan Hensley (Jacqueline). “Nanny and Poppy” also had 9 grandchildren (Melanie Osborn (Mark), John Moore (Tammy), Chantelle Casey (Steve), Melissa Rozwarski (Troy), Courtney Usenick (Randy), Jason Moore, Lataya Meyers (Chad), Reannin Soule (Shane), and Bobby Hensley. They also had 22 great grandchildren, and 2 great-great grandchildren! Bob was preceded in death by his brothers, Richard and Randal, as well as his grandson Jason Moore and his loving wife of 75 years, Agnes.
Before Agnes passed away 2 years ago, she would tell “Poppy,” “You better not have another woman in this house when I’m gone.” Poppy would then tell her and everyone else around “Why would I have any other woman when I’ve had the best.” Nanny was an outgoing, vibrant personality that had the “it” factor, and Poppy was her counterbalance—quiet and gentle mannered, he spoke softly and not as often as we all would have liked. But the last 2 years, he had the floor, and, oh boy, he made up some ground. We heard war story after war story about how he served our country in World War II. We heard stories about his childhood, his cars, his early dates with Nanny, and so many more. Although we have greatly missed Nanny, we were blessed to have Poppy these final 2 years and have the ability to “soak him up.”
The “house on Russ” street will always be a mark on all of our hearts, a mark that we would never be the same without. When we needed love, we went to Russ Street. When we wanted to gather with family, we went to Russ Street. When we wanted to celebrate, we went to Russ Street. You see, “Russ Street” was at the center of all of our lives and what we all call “home.” It wasn’t the house; it was the two loving Angels inside the house that made it our “home.” For that, we are eternally lucky and grateful.
Poppy, enjoy your next dance with Nanny in Heaven. You lived a life that many men could only wish to live. Well done Pops!
Private family service will be held with burial at Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens. Hahn Funeral Home, Mishawaka has been entrusted with handling the final arrangements. To leave the family an online condolence, please visit www.hahnfuneralhomes.com.
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