Rolf H. Henel

Rolf Heinrich Henel of Wayne, New Jersey passed away at the age of 86 on December 28, 2023.

Rolf was born on September 2, 1937, in Kingston, Ontario, Canada to Heinrich Edmund Karl Henel and Ingeborg Charlotte Beithan. Of German descent, the family, including his elder sister Bettina, moved to the United States and Rolf became a U.S. citizen in 1953.

His education included high school and his first two years of college in Madison, Wisconsin, a year of study in Germany beginning in 1954 and completion of his Bachelor of Arts at Yale in 1959 graduating Magna Cum Laude with an Honors Major in Russian Area Studies and a Minor in History. Rolf received his M.B.A. in Banking and Finance with a Minor in Economics from New York University in 1962.

Rolf had a passion for learning language from living and working around the world. He enjoyed communicating in many tongues including English, French, German, Italian, Russian and Spanish. In his professional career he started working in New York in the banking and oil sectors before landing in the pharmaceutical industry in 1966 where he dedicated himself to the balance of his work life.

Beginning as Assistant Treasurer he then rose through the ranks at Pfizer International becoming Treasurer in Brussels, Belgium; General Manager in Teheran, Iran; General Manager in Madrid, Spain and in Rome, Italy. He then moved to Cyanamid as Managing Director in the United Kingdom and Scandinavia before moving back to the U.S. in 1978 to become Vice President of Medical and then President of the Lederle division at Cyanamid International until his retirement in 1993 at the age of 55.

Post retirement, Rolf continued to focus his time to healthcare as consultant, board member or volunteer to many organizations including SciClone Pharmaceuticals (Director), Penwest Pharmaceuticals (Director), Naimark & Associates (Partner), Bergen Community Regional Blood Center (Director) and Bergen Volunteer Medical Initiative (Board Chair). In addition, he was interested in investing and helping with industry associations. He was the Chairman of the International Section of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association including Far East and European Committees; on the Global Economic Council Executive Committee at the National Planning Association; and the President of the Northern New Jersey Chapter of the American Association of Individual Investors.

Outside of his superiority with business and numbers Rolf had a talent and creative drive most exemplified in his woodworking. This possibly stemmed from his maternal grandfather, Emil Beithan, who was an accomplished painter in Germany. He enjoyed this hobby and was very precise and detailed in the pieces he created mainly as gifts for others including furniture, a cross for the church and his famous cork and wood trivets.

Rolf was generous and giving to many. As a high performer he could also be impatient and self-focused and have high expectations of others. From living abroad for many years, travelling to all areas of the world also became a passion although a car rental or driver mishap would drive him to drink, which he did enjoy along with an abundance of good food. He spared no expense throwing decadent parties for himself at milestones in life. He enjoyed the attention and looked for a laugh from his corny jokes. Spending time staring at the ocean from his deck at the Jersey shore was also a pleasure. Rolf overcame multiple health issues over the years and struggled in the last few from onset of dementia and debility of his body.

Rolf is survived by his caring and dedicated wife of 30 years, Emilia (Emily) Henel. His extended family includes four children from his previous marriage all living in California; Julia Lockwood and husband Tim, Sylvia Henel, Stephen Henel, Carolyn Henel and husband Edward; step-son Ramon Villa and husband Dean of New York; sister Bettina Elliott of Massachusetts; and nine grandchildren Christopher, Malcolm, Catherine, Peter, Joseph, Andrew and August, Alex and Dora Marie.

Friends may visit with the family at the Vander May Wayne Colonial Funeral Home, 567 Ratzer Road, Wayne, New Jersey, on Wednesday, January 3, 2024, from 4-7pm concluding with a service there at 7pm.