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James Hennen

October 14, 1943 ~ August 4, 2022 (age 78)


James Hennen passed away on August 4, 2022. In something that will come as no surprise to anyone who knew him, as impressive as he and his life were the spotlight was not something he sought or enjoyed, considering he usually hoped even his birthday would go unnoticed. He might have preferred a lack of obituary, but on that he has no choice. Out of respect though, this will be a much briefer one that many are and certainly briefer than could be for an immense man whose life could fill volumes.

Born in 1943 in St. Louis, Missouri James moved frequently, with his parents and (eventually) 4 brothers and one sister, due to his father’s job with the railroad. Eventually the family settled in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Attending Notre Dame High School, James excelled academically and athletically. A state champion wrestler, receiving offers from professional baseball teams to sign out of high school, and an All-American football player. He received 55 scholarships offers to play football and was a part of the most famous Army Navy game of all time, the 1963 game just weeks following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. James was a graduate of the West Point Class of 1965.

Following West Point and his military service, James led a remarkable life all over the globe. This began with time in the NFL with the expansion Miami Dolphins and working as a world class engineer everywhere from New Orleans to Amsterdam to London and Singapore, until he returned to Chattanooga in the late 80s. Since then he has owned, invested in and operated various businesses with his family and other ventures outside of Chattanooga and internationally, including continuing to pursue his knowledge and passion for Asian art.

There is so much more to his story. If you knew him, you know this and know that he was a colossal and brilliant, and most importantly kind, man. If you did not know him, the world has lost one of the very best ones and one who positively impacted all those that came into his orbit.

He is preceded in death by his parents (Bud and Melba), his brothers Johnny and Denny, and his nephew Michael.

James is survived by his wife Diana and two sons (Jonathan, married to Laura, and Christopher). He is also survived by his brothers Tim (Corrine) and Mike (Gina) as well as his sister Mary Helton (Dr. Keith Helton) and sister-in-law TJ (Johnny), as well as many loving nieces and nephews. Finally, his beloved grandchildren who affectionately called him Grumps-Josie, James (whom Grumps called Bam Bam) and Luke. He will be missed dearly by all, and forever by those closest to him. A unique and great man who is now at peace.

Visit the online obituary to post tributes and share memories.

Arrangements are by Heritage Funeral Home, East Brainerd Chapel.



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