Pressenza is devastated to learn of the passing away of our Asia-Pacific Editor, Tony Henderson, on Sunday the 14th of August, in the arms of his wife Mila, at the age of 74.
Tony, originally from England’s North East region of Tyneside never lost his accent despite spending the majority of his life in the Far East. Something that constantly confused all his friends from overseas. In the 1970s, while living in Japan he first encountered the teachings of Silo and he became a life-long activist in the Humanist Movement.
Upon moving to Hong Kong, Tony formed the Humanist Association of Hong Kong and took an active interest in politics and the fight for democracy in China, publishing the book “Humanize Hong Kong” in 1993. In his professional life, Tony worked as a journalist but was also the author of numerous works of fiction, a poet, and a researcher and writer on mysticism and experiences of conversion connected to the meaning of life.
Those who knew Tony had the joy to meet a man who was full of the love for life regardless of the fact that his activism led him to deal with some of the heaviest issues known to humanity such as nuclear weapons. He never let this get in the way of enjoying himself with his friends and family or in such simple pleasures as his garden, about which he also wrote a book!
More recently, Tony coordinated the activities of the World March for Peace and Nonviolence in Hong Kong in 2009 and subsequently dedicated himself to our news agency that was born at the time and he was a tireless contributor with a unique viewpoint as a humanist living in the belly of the Asian financial beast that is Hong Kong: his last article was published the day before he died.
He also never lost his love for politics and involved himself actively in the development of the International Humanist Party, being elected twice to serve on the World Coordination Team of that organism.
Humanists and all those who struggle for a world free from wars and violence have lost today a giant contributor towards that cause. The shoes that Tony leaves behind in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond will be hard to fill.
Two years ago, Tony came to the Pressenza Editors meeting in Germany, after appearing on a panel at the Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum on the subject of emerging social movements, having been invited to speak about the youth protests for democracy in Hong Kong. The last day in Germany was spent with friends in Berlin and inspired by the conversations with the friends he wrote an opinion piece about the joys of being a humanist which expressed simply the need to continually evolve as a human being.
“Happiness lies as an essential condition of the human, all that has to be done is remove the nuisances, the interference and noise – not that such removal is an easy matter as many people have had undeniably heavy negative experiences and to rid these without trace can be a formidable task. That’s one reason why it is a group work and not advisably done in isolation.
“However, in general, all it takes is some dedication and permanence, also, to keep on top of things it is not a once-and-for-all operative, rather it is an ongoing process matching the dynamic nature of life as is, we cannot just stand by! Adaptation is a changing fit.
“It struck me as marvellous that this chat and interchange could take place so matter-of-fact like taking tea and scones on a pleasant Sunday morning. There we all were, excitedly heading for historic Berlin for a final day’s fling and be-together and this was the quality of the relations, oh my, oh my, oh my… it’s great being a humanist.”
Mr. Henderson, we will miss your sense of humour, your dedication, your confusing accent and your love for life. Asia has lost a giant and we have lost a friend.
Our thoughts are with his wife Mila and his children and extended family at this time.
Peace in the Heart; light in the understanding.
Addition to this article on 16th August 2016:
We include here part of a message received by Pressenza from Tony’s son Chris in the hope that these words bring the same comfort and inspiration to our readers as they have to all of us here in Pressenza:
“Tony Henderson has past away on 14th August 2016 leaving the world to continue on. He was on his way home after a wonderful lunch with family. It was on this journey he has chosen to depart this world.
“Since his mild stroke several months earlier he has been taking life a little easier. He listened and took note of the warning his body alerted and rested when he felt the need. However, his spirit continued to embrace life to the full. He enriched his daily life working with Pressenza and to humanize the world. He continued to work with South China Morning Post, and other publications. In his love of living life to the full he continued to reach and be with family and friends where possible. If he felt the need to rest, he took a moment to sit until his body grew the strength to continue once again. He did this with a positive state of mind, just as he often did in his daily life.
“As he has previously done on many occasions, he took his rest along his journey. He took his final rest at a stop overlooking the beautiful mountain peaks of Lantau. He normally sat facing the path and the people that walk by. However, on this day, he chose to sit overlooking the green hills. Mila, his loving wife, was with him as he rested. They spoke about plans that made them happy. It was at this time Tony expressed that he has not long to live. He was not scared to go. He had already expressed this. He felt the need to close his eyes and fell to a deep sleep and left this world whilst in the arms of the wife he loved. He left very peacefully.”