By Jennifer Landis, executive director
Henry King was a certified nursing assistant who had been with Life Care Center of Pensacola, Florida, since we opened.
Henry initially worked as a night shift CNA. He was known as the “night angel” by several of the residents because he would pray with them to ease their minds and comfort them. He moved on to work in therapy, transporting residents to and from treatment sessions.
Anyone who met Henry immediately felt at ease. He had such a big personality. He was encouraging to the residents and loved to greet staff and visitors.
I remember one time when our annual survey started and five surveyors came into the building. I walked out of my office to see Henry welcoming them to Life Care.
He was our official greeter. He loved to talk about his favorite college team, and you could hear him on Monday morning walking down the hall saying, “Roll tide, roll tide.” (Several members of the Life Care team commented on the Alabama game the day after Henry passed, stating they could just see him whispering in Nick Saban’s ear, telling him he did a good job.)
Henry passed away on Oct. 18, 2019. He had a cardiac arrest at the facility. The team here worked on him nonstop to bring him back, but our Father in heaven wanted Henry to come home. He passed at the hospital with his family around him.
We were looking for something to pay tribute to Henry and his big, loving personality. One day, while the thought was weighing on my mind, I called our landscaper, James Martin, and asked about a tree and what he thought we should plant. James remembered Henry and said, “I was just looking at a European olive tree that I felt needed to be planted before winter. I want to donate this tree in Henry’s memory.”
We had a tree dedication ceremony on Nov. 22, and it was the most beautiful thing. Henry’s wife, Zelma, and son, Josh, attended the ceremony. People who have worked for Life Care in the past came. Family members attended, and previous residents attended and spoke at the ceremony about their favorite memories of Henry. Georgia West, a current resident, offered up a prayer for the family.
This morning (Nov. 23), I came into the office to catch up on some work, and I walked over to the tree. I ran into a family member standing there looking at it. He said, “I just wanted to tell Henry hello.” I said that was what I was doing too.
Olive trees are very hardy and can live for hundreds of years, so it’s a fitting choice. It will live on forever, just like the beautiful memories we have of Henry King.