Alan and Gwenne Henricks
It was during a 35-year career with Caterpillar Inc. that Gwenne Henricks was first introduced to United Way and developed an appreciation for the important role it plays in our communities. For Gwenne, Caterpillar’s workplace campaigns marked the beginning of what became a lifelong commitment and for that, we are very thankful. Now retired and living with husband Alan on Florida’s Gulf Coast, we’re pleased to welcome Alan and Gwenne as new Tocqueville Society members, and we’re delighted to welcome them to the United Way Suncoast family.
Natives of Illinois, the couple met when both were in college – Gwenne at Bradley University and Alan at Illinois Central College – and that began their life journey together. With degrees in Physics and Electrical Engineering, Gwenne’s career with Caterpillar took them to the Peoria area, North Carolina and England. Along the way, Gwenne also earned an MBA from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana as she advanced in her career at Caterpillar. Husband Alan, a mechanical designer, was a progressive (for the 80s and 90s) stay-at-home dad for their two children, according to Gwenne, and was active in community and professional theater productions – performing on stage and then doing technical and production work behind the scenes.
After 35 years in a variety of roles across the business, Gwenne retired from Caterpillar as Vice President of Research and Product Development and Chief Technology Officer. But with retirement has come other opportunities and she currently serves on the Boards of Directors of POLARIS Industries and Decision Sciences International Corporation.
Gwenne and Alan are now happy to call Pinellas County home and retirement is filled with travel, new home projects driven by Alan, a natural creator/maker, and the opportunity to explore all that Florida has to offer. In Gwenne’s words, “We enjoy the natural beauty of the Gulf Coast (yes, including the weather!) as well as the diversity and energy of the Tampa Bay area, and have yet to meet someone who isn’t happy to be here.”
With visits from friends and family and two grandchildren to enjoy, life is good for Gwenne and Alan. But with all their good fortune comes a commitment to give back. In addition to United Way, they have been longtime supporters of Easterseals, Court Appointed Special Advocates (for children in the foster care system), The Salvation Army, Big Brothers Big Sisters and numerous other organizations.
When asked why she and Alan give back to the community and why they support United Way, Gwenne shared, “We believe that we have a purpose to make the world a better place – using the gifts we have been given. We have been blessed with great opportunities and want to help others on their journeys to happy, meaningful and productive lives. Through Caterpillar’s campaigns and support, we learned how effectively and efficiently United Way supports local agencies that provide the services needed by so many in our communities. We especially want to have a positive impact on children and their families because we believe that’s the key for breaking cycles of abuse, neglect and poverty and building a brighter future for them, our communities and our world.”
Gwenne and Alan will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary this year, and we celebrate them for their lifetime of giving. We’re pleased to welcome Gwenne and Alan to the United Way Suncoast Tocqueville Society and are so grateful for their support.