Friends and tennis buddies paid tribute to teammate and worthy opponent Les Henry Wednesday morning, honoring the man they called a “gentle giant” and “the best guy I’ve ever known” with a rock memorial in front of the tennis courts at Stephen Harris Park in El Dorado Hills.
“In memory of Les Henry. A treasure to his family. A pleasure to his tennis friends. A joy to all,” the memorial reads.
Henry, a member of the long-standing tennis group that plays every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning, died last Thanksgiving. His widow Eddy, high school sweetheart and wife of 50 years, attended the ceremony.
“I can see in my heart he is smiling,” Eddy told the crowd of about 20. “You were like a second family to him.”
Les was known for his booming laughter and amazing forehand. When he found his sweet spot on the court opponents knew they were in trouble, recalled Mike Wright. “You were eating a fuzz sandwich before you knew it,” he said. Nods and chuckles followed.
Several at the event noted that tennis played an important role in Les’ life and he encouraged as many people as he could to come join the game. Les even volunteered to fill in when the women’s teams were short a player and he never let a little rain get in the way of his game; he’d play until the ball wouldn’t bounce anymore.
“He’s kind of like the rock of this group we have,” said Dave Claessen. “Without him there is a piece missing.”