In 1939 the family immigrated to New York City, where Henry’s parents remained for the rest of their lives. Henry applied for admission to several American colleges but could gain entrance only to West Georgia College, where he majored in textile engineering. After proving himself academically, Henry transferred to Georgia Institute of Technology, where he changed his major to chemical engineering and graduated at the top of his class in 1944. That same year he married Dorothy Jenks and returned to New York to work for Socony Vacuum (later Mobil Oil) on high-performance aviation fuels while completing a master’s degree in chemical engineering at Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn (now Polytechnic Institute of New York University).
In 1947 Henry moved to the Midwest to begin what would be a 30-year affiliation with the Institute of Gas Technology (IGT), joining as supervisor of oil gasification processes. Simultaneously, Henry continued his graduate program in chemical engineering at the neighboring Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), conducting his doctoral research under the direction of Ralph Peck in high-temperature, vapor-phase cracking of hydrocarbons. The 1950s were highly productive years for Henry; he completed his Ph.D. degree (1952) and greeted the arrival of son, Robert Seth, and daughter, Debra Jeanne, all the while assuming greater and broader managerial responsibility at IGT. By 1961, Henry was appointed as institute director, a post he held for 17 years, executing major programs in energy supply and conversion and pioneering the concept of a hydrogen economy along the way. An accomplished technologist with a global view on energy, Henry had an illustrious career at IGT, which reached its pinnacle in 1974 with his appointment as president and trustee.
Amid growing concerns about the adequacy of U.S. natural gas supplies, Henry provided the pivotal impetus in the launching of the Gas Research Institute (GRI), the U.S. natural gas industry’s cooperative research and development arm, and served as its first president and as a member of the board of directors from 1977 until his retirement in 1987. It is widely accepted that Henry’s foresight and visionary leadership of