Charles Henson

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Charles A. Henson.jpg
Charles A. Henson is a retired Theatre and Media Arts faculty member for Brigham Young University. His career spanned thirty-four years, during which he was heavily involved with scene design. He is also an upstanding citizen and has participated on countless Provo City Councils and Committees throughout his life.

Early Life

Henson was born August 14, 1930 in Santa Ana, California, to Alfred M. and Anna Waite Henson. He attended school in Garden Grove, California, culminating in graduation from Garden Grove High School in June 1948. After a semester at Santa Ana Junior College, Henson entered the Air Force in 1949 during the Korean War. Although he was in the Air Force, Henson never saw combat during the war, in large part because of a blessing he received from his father and bishop just prior to leaving. Henson was discharged four years later from Omaha, Nebraska, in 1954. He later met and married his wife in the nearby Council Bluffs, Iowa, while working as a switch man for Union Pacific.


While in the service, Henson took architecture and drafting classes at the University of Omaha with the hope of becoming an architect. After being discharged, he transferred to BYU, which unfortunately did not have an architecture program, and enrolled as a Civil Engineer major.

While at school, Henson realized he needed another job in addition to his GI Bill to support his young family. He took a job as a scenery painter, with no prior experience in the field, and the rest, as they say, is history. By his second year, Henson changed his major to theatre and graduated in 1957 with a degree in Speech and Drama. He went on to receive his master's degree in theatre in 1959. He later received his doctorate degree in educational administration in 1980. His dissertation was a history of the Department of Theatre and Media Arts, from 1920-1978.


With Bob Struthers on the set of Sound of Music
Shortly after graduating with a bachelor's degree, Henson was offered a position as a special instructor of scene design. This position opened up after his mentor and teacher, Carl White received a job offer from a Junior College in California.

Henson went on to teach scene design, technical theatre, and theatre production until he retired in 1992. While teaching, Henson earned his master's and doctorate degree during his sabbatical periods, a typical practice for the time, although since retired in use. Henson was involved with the planning process in building the Harris Fine Arts Center, more commonly known as the HFAC. Dr. Harold Hansen, department chair at the time, frequently took Henson to planning meetings, since Henson was the only one other than the draftsman who could read the plans.

From 1960-1967, Henson also worked with Dr. Hansen on the Hill Cumorah pageant in Manchester, New York, initially to help build a new set for the pageant. In 1971, Henson produced the show Hello Dolly for the USO tour in Asia. He was also the scene designer for many of the college and community's productions during that time and until his retirement. He worked with many prominent and important faculty members during his tenure as a professor including Dr. Harold I. Hansen, Dr. Lael Woodbury, Dr. Charles Whitman, Dr. Harold Oaks, Jean Jenkins, Dr. Robert Struthers, Dr. Karl Pope, O. Lee Walker, and Eric Fielding.

Civic Duty

Henson has been involved with community government throughout his career. His positions include:

  • Planning commission member (1964-1971)
    • Provo City Planning Committee
    • Board of Adjustments
    • Airport Board
  • Planning commission chairman (1974-1982)
  • Provo City Council vice chairman (1983-1987)
    • Chairman of Public Safety
    • Member of Budget Committee
  • Provo City Manager (1991-2008)

Henson was also recognized for his efforts with numerous awards including the Utah County Volunteer Award in both 1976 and 1983, and the Provo Freedom Award in 1985.

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