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The City Journals

Murray City celebrates Tom Henry’s life of service

May 02, 2019 02:36PM ● By Shaun Delliskave

Tom Henry displays a plaque given to him by the National Exchange Club. (Shaun Delliskave/City Journals)

By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]

Tom Henry may not be a name you are immediately familiar with, and that’s probably by design, as the first thing that strikes you about Henry is his quiet, self-deprecating demeanor. However, if you ever went to the Fourth of July parade and received a free flag, took your kids to the Haunted Woods or participated in any number of other community events around Murray, you can probably thank Tom Henry for that.

His selfless dedication to providing service to Murray was the reason the City Council awarded Henry the Murray City Council Resident Service Award at the April 16 council meeting. The award has only been given out a handful of times over the past few decades. It recognizes him for being an active Murray resident, business owner and community volunteer. 

“Tom has done all of our projects with the Murray Exchange Youth Club: The Burrito Project (an anti-hunger project), …the ‘Give A Kid A Flag To Wave’ event on July Fourth, blood drives, and working at and supporting the Boys and Girls Club…always sponsoring flag donations for the parade, supporting the UtahCoOp Store for low-income families, even recruiting the Murray High football team to come over to the senior center to break up the old cement to pour a new patio,” said Sheri Van Bibber, president of the Murray Exchange Club, a group that Henry founded back in 2001.

Bill Dunn of the Murray Boys & Girls Club honored Henry’s commitment to the Club: “…the contributions and support you have given to the Boys and Girls Club are phenomenal. Ten years ago, when the recession hit the club, overnight, we lost over $400,000 in funding. We would not have survived without you. Though we owed you thousands of dollars, and the bills just kept increasing, you were so patient and told us to pay it back when we could. I remember you out in the middle of State Street working on one of our vans; as I drove by, I knew we owed you so much money, yet there you were, making sure our transportation was safe and reliable. We did pay you back, over time, and you were never impatient with us, not even once.”

When asked how he does it all, Henry replied with his typical humility, “It is a team effort. You can’t do it with just one.”

As the owner of Turn Key Auto and Truck Repair Service (4701 Commerce Dr.), Henry puts in at least 60 hours a week at the shop. As the historian of the Murray Exchange Club (where he served as president four times) and a member of the Murray Chamber of Commerce, he estimated he volunteers 20 more hours a week. Many times, his wife, Bobbi, is by his side as part of an inseparable team. 

Van Bibber continued, “He helped fund and gather backpacks, socks and school supplies for our elementary kids in need in Murray. He always worked with the Volunteers of America and did the kettle at Christmas and always recruited us to do it with him. And, he always recruited us to do the call-a-thon for the Child Adoption Group. He would go over with us every year to decorate the Christmas tree at Zions Bank with the Murray Youth Chamber and the Boys and Girls Club of Murray.”

Henry’s penchant for services goes back to growing up poor in Palmdale, California. “Without the Salvation Army, I don’t know where I would be,” said Henry. He did learn the art of being a mechanic while taking care of dune buggies in the Mojave Desert, which led him to his lifelong career.

“Service is addictive,” Henry said. According to him, the key to service is having good volunteers. “The secret to volunteers is getting to know them. Know their needs.”

Of everything he has been involved with, the most rewarding has been helping Murray students win the Exchange Club’s Ace (Accepting the Challenge of Excellence) Award. The ACE Award recognizes high school students who have had to overcome significant physical, emotional or social obstacles and are now eligible for high school graduation.

Along with the Murray Citizens Award, Henry has been honored with the National Exchange Club’s top honor, the Presidential Award. 

While Henry has given his time to numerous service causes, his time now is focused on fighting another valiant battle: stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Even with cancer, Henry still serves the community and recently helped plant pinwheels at city hall for the Exchange Club’s annual Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Henry encouraged everyone to take the chance to serve. “I feel lucky to be involved in the community,” he said. 

More information about the Exchange Club can be found online at nationalexchangeclub.org.