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Home Obituaries In Memory: Belle Gordon Heneberger, Age 92

In Memory: Belle Gordon Heneberger, Age 92

Obituary - Belle G. HenebergerBelle Gordon Heneberger, age 92, died peacefully in Sarasota, FL on May 17, 2023 with her devoted daughter by her side. Belle was born in Quantico, VA, the daughter of Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Samuel Blair Griffith and Belle Nelson Griffith. She met her beloved husband of 69 years, Harry Heneberger (son of Navy Captain Harry B. Heneberger and Burnice “Pete” Heneberger), when she was in her last year at Rogers High School in Newport, RI. He was a cadet visiting home from the Naval Academy.

Belle (also known as “Gordon”) attended the University of Maryland until she and Harry married in 1951 when he graduated from the Naval Academy (as had his father and grandfather before him). They soon moved to Groton, CT where, after graduation from submarine school, Harry was assigned to the USS Blenny in San Diego, CA. He was later selected to join the building and commissioning crew of the USS Seawolf (SSN-575), the second nuclear submarine.

As a Navy wife for seven years, with Harry at sea for long periods of time, Belle was devoted to raising their two children, Belle and Tracy, and managing their many moves related to his assignments. During those years in the Navy, Belle and Harry had many great times together and developed some of their dearest life-long friendships.

In 1958 Harry resigned from the Navy and joined the International Division of The First National City Bank of New York, eventually known as Citigroup. Early assignments with the bank took Belle and Harry and their two young children to Brazil for 10 years, with positions in Sao Paulo, Belo Horizonte, Bahia, and Rio de Janeiro. During those years Belle participated in hosting many bank related social affairs.

On summer vacations, as the children were growing up, Belle and Harry and their extended families enjoyed many wonderful times together at Norcross Lodge, the beloved family camp at Norcross Pond near Farmington, ME. During their retirement years Belle and Harry enjoyed traveling together both stateside and abroad.

Returning from Brazil in 1968, Belle and Harry moved to Rye, NY where they lived for a number of years, followed by moves to Cornwall, NY and later New York City as Harry continued to work for the bank. For many years prior to retiring he was in charge of Citibank’s financial institutions relationships in South America, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. While living in Rye, Belle completed her college degree by commuting to the University of Bridgeport in CT, where she majored in History.

In 1989, after a 30 year career with the bank, Belle and Harry retired to Newport, RI where they enjoyed being close to their parents who still lived there. Eventually they moved to Sarasota in 2002 to be close to their daughter, Belle, and her family and over the years enjoyed many wonderful pool parties and special times with all of them.

A frequent volunteer in her lifetime, Belle was an avid supporter of women’s rights and a contributor to many social causes and organizations such as the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, NOW, The Nature Conservancy, the National Wildlife Federation, the Environmental Defense Fund, PBS and the League of Women Voters.

Belle had many interests including reading, gardening, watercolor painting, sewing, needlepoint, tennis, swimming, and walks in nature. She always stayed informed and generously supported political candidates and charities she believed would make the world a better place for everyone. She and Harry were supporters of the Sarasota Ballet and Orchestra, and also enjoyed productions and events at Sarasota’s theaters and art organizations.

Always devoted to her parents, Belle was proud of her father, Brig. Gen. Griffith, who was a 1929 graduate of the Naval Academy, a decorated officer in the Pacific in World War II and an author and expert on Chinese military affairs. General Griffith received a doctorate in Chinese military history from Oxford University and published an English translation, “The Art of War,” of Mao Tse-tung’s 1937 textbook, “On Guerrilla Warfare.” He also won praise for his book “The Battle for Guadalcanal.” He commanded a Marine regiment on New Georgia, Solomon Islands, and earned a Navy Cross for bravery in 1942. His last book was the 1976 “In Defense of the Public Liberty” regarding the struggle between England and the Americans from 1760 to the surrender at Yorktown in 1781.

Most important to Belle was spending time with her close friends and family. She is survived by many devoted family members including her daughter Belle Gordon Heneberger (Joseph H. Melancon) of Sarasota; grandson Joshua Melancon (Amy) and great-grandchildren Jaya, Tayton, Kai, and Jaxson of Sarasota; grandson Jacob Melancon (Marissa) and great-grandson Braxton of Frisco, TX; and daughter-in-law Susan Mayer of Woodstock, NY. In addition to other extended family, Belle is also survived by her sister, Jane Griffith of Floyd, VA and Jane’s sons William Bell of Floyd, VA; Bruce Rushing of Walpole, NH, and Robert Rushing of Port Townsend, WA.

Belle was predeceased by her devoted son, Tracy Walling Heneberger in 2015, and by her loving husband, Harry Bailey Heneberger, Jr. in 2020. Belle will always be dearly remembered by her family and friends for her kind, loving, committed and generous nature. A celebration of life was held privately.


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