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Hank Lilienthal


Company B-1

5/10/39 - 1/11/98

Hank Lilienthal

It is with much regret and deep sorrow that we report the passing of Henry E. “Hank” Lilienthal (B-1). Hank died on Sunday, January 11th at 15:15, after waging a courageous battle for life against a brain tumor, as reported earlier by Marty Ganderson in ASSEMBLY.

There was never a question in Hank’s mind but that he would meet head-on the greatest challenge of his life and do everything possible to beat the odds. Like Mike Younkin who predeceased him, Hank underwent extensive and sometimes experimental treatment at NIH ... and throughout this last year never failed to keep his sense of humor or demonstrate his obvious love and concern for the Lady of his Life, Carolyn.

We are grateful for all our classmates in the Washington area who were able to be with Hank and his family during this prolonged and difficult period ... to share their friendship and demonstrate their personal concern, support and love ... especially those who were with Hank and Carolyn last Sunday afternoon when his battle finally ended.

Residing in Springfield VA and working for Defense Programs in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Hank was a quiet man, not given to many words. But his succinct biographical submission entered into the Network ’61 Class Directory tells us a great deal about “ ... the Man, Henry E. Lilienthal.”

Hank wrote as follows:

“After Germany, Princeton, Viet Nam, the Social Sciences Department and my resignation in 1971, I ended up being in continual contact with the military through my civilian job in OMB. I salute the Class for its outstanding role in Desert Storm and in winning the Cold War !”

It is now time that we, your classmates, salute you ... Henry E. “Hank” Lilienthal ... Classmate, Cadet Scholar, Soldier, Educator, distinguished Civil Servant to your Country and the Profession of Arms ... and dear Friend. Individually, we shall not focus on our sorrow at your passing but shall instead take heart, gaining strength ourselves from your personal courage and example set during this past year.

May the Lord Bless you and Keep you, Hank ... may He give Strength to those whom you love ... Carolyn, your sons and their families; Scott, Holly and Madeline (8-mos); John and Veronique. May they and all those who know and love you take great Comfort in the knowledge that you “stood tall” throughout your entire life ... to the very end.

“Well done, Hank ... ” You shall indeed be missed by us all. Until we each assume with you our own inevitable position in The Long Gray Line, “ ... be thou at rest!”

Notes or calls of sympathy and condolence may be directed to: Carolyn Lilienthal & Family 6003 Roxbury Avenue Springfield, VA 2215-1619 TEL: 703-569-4867

Class Memorial Pages\B-1 Hank Lilienthal.pdf

Taps Tribute:

Cullum No. 23294-1961 | January 11, 1998 | Died in Springfield, VA
Cremated. Interred at St. Barnabas Church, Annandale, VA

Henry Edward Lilienthal known only to classmates as “Hank,” was born on May 10, 1939 in West Palm Beach, FL, the son of Henry and Eleanor Lilienthal. Like many young men, he grew up enjoying sports like golf, fishing and swimming. Unlike some, he also enjoyed academics. He came to West Point directly from high school, fully prepared to meet the physical and academic challenges. 

Henry had a natural curiosity about many things, especially those from the wider world outside his own experience. He had a voracious appetite for learning and the ability to retain all that he studied. He had little time for frivolity but was determined to develop his mental and physical abilities. It was not uncommon for Henry to take periodic study breaks by doing push-ups, then return to studying, much to the astonishment of his roommates. He excelled in all subjects, from mathematics to social sciences and from physics to Spanish. His proficiency in Spanish was such that he took lecture notes in Spanish for other subjects. Henry was always ready to help classmates when they struggled with academics. Academic stars were permanent fixtures on his collars each of his four years. 

Henry had a rather dry sense of humor, made evident only by a wry smile when he found something amusing. This demeanor matched his persona: a quiet but deep man with strong convictions and steady determination.

The love of his life was his high school sweetheart, Carolyn Elizabeth Davis. Carolyn attended Randolph Macon Women’s College in Lynchburg, VA and was able to make occasional trips to West Point. Henry was on cloud nine weeks before Carolyn arrived and weeks afterward. They married just after graduation in June 1961. From this marriage came two sons, Scott and John. 

Henry’s first assignment, following Engineering basic as well as Ranger and Airborne schools, was to the 8th Engineer Battalion in Dexheim, Germany. After that assignment it was off to Princeton University, where he received master’s degrees in both engineering and public administration. Next came a 1967-68 tour with the Military Advisory Group in Quang Nai, Vietnam, followed by an assignment at West Point as an instructor in the Department of Social Sciences. The award of an Army Commendation Medal, a Meritorious Service Medal, and a Bronze Star speak to the meticulous manner in which he performed his duties.

In 1971, Henry resigned from the Army and joined the U.S. Office of Management and the Budget (OMB), where he became a senior budget analyst. The decision to leave the military was difficult. Although he never complained about the hardships associated with serving in Vietnam, he began to assess whether or not his obvious and considerable talents to serve his country were better suited to the federal government. He was a dedicated public servant and would have returned willingly to the Army had he thought his personal service would have provided any benefit. 

His ultimate decision was a good one. Henry received numerous awards and citations for his contributions to OMB, and he found the work there both challenging and satisfying. The nature of his work was such that much could not be discussed publicly. After U.S. stealth technology advances were declassified and publicly acknowledged, he was excited to be finally able to share with others a top-secret program on which he worked quietly for such a long time.

Henry took his work seriously and was not interested in outward appearances. A severe accident with his lawn mower resulted in a major infection that plagued him for nearly a year. The setback did not prevent him from reporting to work. It must have been an unusual sight to see him traversing the corridors of CIA headquarters pulling his IV drip stand with him. 

There was one activity Henry never enjoyed: camping! Ranger School provided him enough camping to last a lifetime. Eating rattlesnake did not improve his experience. While he liked the outdoors for hiking, fishing, sports, and sightseeing, he preferred sleeping in comfort at a motel. Carolyn shared that opinion, so there was no conflict on that issue!

In his later years Henry enjoyed tennis, running, and an occasional golf outing. He was competitive, but mostly with himself, measuring his efforts against his own standards. He enjoyed a game of bridge, Scrabble or backgammon but was never focused on the end result, instead he rather enjoyed the process. He enjoyed good food but, being frugal by nature, saved extravagance for rare occasions. Exercise and dietary discipline kept him both trim and fit. 

Henry’s concern for others ran deep. When a classmate was rendered blind by brain cancer, Henry visited him regularly, reading him stories and simply being there for him. Like the tutoring he gave classmates at West Point, this show of compassion was done quietly, so as not to draw attention to himself.

Henry’s own fatal illness came as an unexpected shock to him as well as his family. His concerns were more for Carolyn and the uncertainties associated with the illness than for himself. He had time to put his affairs in order and take a final vacation trip. He went through numerous medications, surgeries and doctor visits as his health declined, but even as his speaking ability faded, his smile seemed only to increase. Henry was at peace with himself and the world. Well Done, Hank! Rest in Peace, good and faithful servant.

— Family and classmates

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