Martha Ernestine Hankla Henry, a wise woman, passed away on January 24, 2022, in Nacogdoches, Texas at the age of 104.
Ernestine was one of four children born to Samuel Flournoy and Elma Smith Hankla in Geneva, near McMahon Chapel, October 10, 1917, in Sabine County, Texas, on land grant property from the Republic of Texas. Ernestine attended school in Geneva and later graduated from Beaumont High School. She married Elvie Denton (E. D.) Henry in 1935, and lived in Corpus Christi where she became a building contractor and ED managed ship building for WWII efforts. They later moved to Houston and continued a real estate development business. After the birth of two daughters, Kay Ann and Georgia Carol, the family moved to San Augustine, Texas embracing their East Texas roots to operate cotton gins and raise cattle.
With a passion for education, Ernestine was a lifelong learner and earned a bachelor’s degree and a Master of Education from Stephen F. Austin State College. She continued Doctorial study at the University of Houston and Baylor University.
She enjoyed her many years as a teacher in San Augustine and truly relished her position as Dean of Women at SFA were she served for 26 years, 1959 to 1985. As the only woman on the SFA Executive Committee during much of that time, she encouraged and supported hundreds of women as they expanded their education, social lives, families and careers. Her pleasure was seeing young people become successful. She truly enriched the lives of many SFA students. Ernestine was voted favorite administrator by the SFA student senate, and brought four national sororities to SFA. She later personally encouraged Tri Delta to visit the SFA campus and they became the 5th national sorority. One of her favorite memories was when Alumni Drive on the SFA campus was designatived to be named Ernestine Henry Drive in 2000.
A member and leader of many national, state and local organizations involving education, she was a founding member of the Nacogdoches Pilot Club and always cherished her Pilot sisters. Ernestine was proud of her family and her East Texas heritage. She was a charter member of the San Augustine Chapter of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas and a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She was a longtime of supporter of the Old Nacogdoches University Building and considered it the “jewel” of Nacogdoches historic sites. She admired the Federation of Women’s Clubs who are trustees to preserve the building and museum for the benefit of our community.
Ernestine began oil painting in the 70’s and it became a lifelong passion with her dear friend and instructor, Karen LoStracco. She traveled worldwide to visit other cultures and study the world’s finest museums. She was always proud to gift her paintings to family, special friends and various fundraisers around Nacogdoches.
A storyteller with an incredible memory, she was creative and inquisitive. She subscribed to dozens of magazines to follow the stock market, politics, history, cooking, crafting, architecture and entertainment news. Rarely could a friend share local or world news that she had not already found on her iPad or magazines. Ernestine had a unique way of making the most distant world events relatable to the East Texas community.
She is preceded in death by her parents, her husband and siblings, Randolph Hankla, Jim Hankla, Florine Hankla Ramsey and son-in-law Major General Michael Butchko (USAF).
Ernestine is survived by her two daughters, Kay Henry Butchko of Nacogdoches and Georgia Henry Darnell, and husband Kirby, formerly of Henderson, Texas and now Roswell, New Mexico; her adoring grandchildren and their families, Benjamin Michael Butchko, wife Kirstin and children Jay Yeats and Elizabeth Ann Butchko of Houston; Kathryn Butchko Pelka, husband Jay and daughter Katelyn Maire of Oldsmar, Florida; Adriann Darnell Ragsdale, husband Luke and daughter Alexandra of Roswell; and by many nieces and nephews.
In keeping with her love of education and learning, Ernestine chose to dedicate her body to medical science. A private family memorial will be held at a future date. For those wishing to offer a memorial, a donation made to the renovation project for the Old University Building would be an honor. Donations may be sent to The Federation of Women’s Clubs, PO Box 633113, Nacogdoches, TX 75963, a 501(c)(3) organization.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Ernestine Henry, please visit our floral store.
Published by Legacy on Jan. 26, 2022.
Legacy.com reports daily on death announcements in local communities nationwide. Visit our funeral home directory for more local information, or see our FAQ page for help with finding obituaries and sending sympathy.