Beverly Henrikson former Bath clerk

Beverly Henrikson former Bath clerk

BATH

Former Bath Clerk Beverly Henrikson died last Friday, leaving behind a lasting legacy in the city in which she worked for more than four decades.

“This city has lost a great chunk of history,” said current Bath Clerk Mary White. “And it’s a horrendous loss to me.”

Henrikson was born in Bath in 1933, in the midst of the Great Depression. She was struck by polio while attending Morse High School in 1949. The crippling, life-threatening disease pushed her graduation back a year to 1952 and left her with a limp. Later in her life, many people she interacted with never even knew what she went through.

“She did eventually gain her ability to walk,” said Henrikson’s daughter, Kim Parsons. “Some of the people that came into the office didn’t even know she had a limp or had polio.”

“She didn’t want people to know that was an issue at all,” said White.

After graduation, Henrikson got a job with the city. Parsons described her mother as strong, particular and overly generous and kind-hearted — traits that would serve her well in her work for the city. She would go on to become Bath’s first female city clerk, a position she held until she retired in 1996.

A year before her retirement, Henrikson hired White, and groomed her to take the post.

“She didn’t just hire me,” said White. “She was my mentor. She’s the reason I’m sitting in this seat today.”

After more than four decades working for the city, Henrikson had developed deep institutional knowledge and a remarkable ability to recall that information in an instant.

“Someone would walk in and she’d go, ‘I knew your grandfather,’” said White. “And she would begin to tell stories about the grandfather, the grandmother, the mother and father. She would tell that child what day it was born on and what the weather was. I am not exaggerating at all.”

That wasn’t great for everybody. Parsons said that growing up, her mom would always find out if she’d gotten in trouble.

“You couldn’t get away with anything,” Parsons said laughing. “If you were out of line at all you might as well come clean early, because she was definitely going to find out about it.”

Parsons said her mother’s mind was still sharp in her final months. She worked as the secretary and bookkeeper for the Customs House, even in her final days.

“She was smart as a tack.

Even when she got home from the hospital on Aug. 15, she was worried about bills that had to be paid for the Custom House, as well as taxes that had to be paid,” Parsons said, referring to the historic Front Street building that now houses businesses.

Henrikson put that mind to work for the city throughout her time as clerk and after. Though White worked with Henrikson for just a year and a half before Henrikson’s retirement, White said she continued to help White and the city through the transition, using her institutional knowledge to keep things running smoothly.

“She was just a call away,” said White. “If someone needed anything, she knew just who to call.”

Henrikson went above and beyond professional expectations, ensuring that councilors knew their role and that they always had everything they needed, said White. For her part, White has continued in the same vein and is known fondly around city hall as “Mother Mary.”

“They call me ‘Mother Mary.’ That was due to my mother: Beverly Henrikson,” said White. “She said, ‘Those are your people. You take care of them.’”

“She loved the city. She loved the people,” said Parsons. “After she retired she said that’s what she missed the most — the people.”

People that met her felt that love, and seemed to almost universally reciprocate it.

“I just recall her being so friendly and warm. She seemed to know everybody,” said local journalist and author Meadow Merrill. “Whatever conflicts were going on in town, whatever disagreements came up, everybody loved Bev.”

Merrill said she first met Henrikson while covering Bath for The Times Record.

“I don’t think I had ever been to a government meeting before I started covering city hall,” said Merrill. “Every time I would go upstairs for a city council meeting, there would be Bev and her dear husband Henry who was always there with her.”

White said she was fortunate enough to speak with Henrikson briefly before she died to say goodbye.

“She was the most remarkable woman I’ve ever met or ever will meet,” said White. “She was the heart of this city.”

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