John H. Hennessey, Jr., age 76, of Bel Air, MD, passed away peacefully on January 15th. Born in Baltimore, he was the son of Dorothy and John “Jack” Hennessey, Sr., also of Baltimore.
John was an incredible athlete and still holds the record at Mount Saint Joseph High School for the most consecutive number of pitched no-hitters. John was drafted to play Minor League baseball and was on a path to playing Major League Baseball before the Army drafted him to serve in the Vietnam War.
John proudly served his country from 1966-1970 where he ascended to the distinction of Captain. He served as a rifle platoon leader in combat in 1968, earned a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star with Valor for his service in the Tet Offensive, a major escalation and one of the largest military campaigns of the Vietnam War. From 1969-1970 he was responsible for testing small arms for the infantry and became a jump master.
The discipline and patriotism he learned in the Army never left him, as he returned home to the states. After he returned from Vietnam in 1970, John attended the University of Baltimore and earned his B.A. in History in 1973 before starting his professional career at Equitable Bank. He went on to earn his MBA from Loyola College and was a student in the Executive Graduate Program from Loyola University while working full-time for Equitable Bank and had a successful career in corporate banking for over 25 years.
After 25 years as a banker, John retired from Nations Bank to pursue his true passion: people. John was affectionally known by friends and family as “The Mayor of Baltimore.” He could not pass a person on the street without knowing his or her story. His love of meeting and helping people led him to volunteer and serve on several boards including: The Baltimore Orioles Designated Hitters Group (Charter Member), Baltimore Rotary Club (Trustee and Member), John Carroll School (Chairman, Board of Trustees), The Center Club of Baltimore (Membership Committee), John's Hopkins University School of Continuing Education (Advisory Board), Sheppard Pratt Hospital (Board of Trustees) and University of Baltimore (Alumni Board) where in 2001 he was awarded Alumnus of the Year. He was also a 40-year member of Maryland Golf & Country Clubs and Baltimore’s, The Center Club.
John channeled this love of meeting people and networking into the next and final phase of his professional career as a Financial Advisor. He began at Legg Mason in 2003 (now Morgan Stanley) where he became a Vice President and built a successful business and team before retiring in 2018.
As professionally accomplished as John was, when asked, the greatest achievement of his life was his family. John was married to Sylvia (1943-2008) for 31 years. John is survived by his two daughters and their husbands: Katherine and David Dettlaff of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, their daughter, John’s only grandchild, Ella Sylvia Dettlaff who called him “King Man,” Julia-John Hennessey and Iain Hollyhoke of Charleston, South Carolina, two sisters: Eileen E. Hennessey of Rehoboth Beach, DE and Cathy N. Hurd of Severna Park, MD; one brother: Stephen M. Hennessey of Baltimore, MD; four sisters-in-law: Debbie Hennessey of Baltimore, MD, Donna Fellers of Lenoir, NC, Rebecca Belk and Kim Ruff, both of Charlotte, NC; three brothers-in-law, Butch Hurd of Severna Park, MD, David Belk and Charles Ruff, both of Charlotte, NC. John also had 7 nieces and nephews.
John strategically surrounded himself with many wonderful people in his life that he considered family including his dear friend Holly Russell and “surrogate” daughters, Christy Dougherty and Alison Canning.
Services will be held at Arlington Cemetery at a date to be determined. In the interim, the family will be hosting a service at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Bel Air, Maryland on February 11th at 12pm. The family will also host a reception immediately following the service to celebrate his life at Maryland Golf & Country Clubs in Bel Air.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Wounded Warrior Project, P.O. Box 758517, Topeka, KS 66675 or The John Carroll School, 703 E. Churchville Road, Bel Air, MD 21014.