Dr. Henry Clay Dethloff
August 10, 1934 – January 25, 2019
On the morning of January 25, 2019, the community of College Station and Texas A&M University lost a scholar and a friend. Dr. Henry C. Dethloff, 84, passed away at his home surrounded by his family. Henry was born on August 10, 1934 in New Orleans, Louisiana to Carl and Camelia Dethloff and was raised in Natchitoches, a historic city in north central Louisiana. Although Henry’s last couple of years were in competition with Alzheimer’s disease and cancer, he celebrated a victory last week by joining his Heavenly Father.
Dethloff graduated in 1952 from Natchitoches High School. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Texas at Austin in 1956, his Master of Arts from Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana in 1960, and his Ph.D. from the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri in 1964. While an undergraduate at UT, he became a brother of the Sigma Chi Fraternity.
Henry met his companion and the love of his life, Myrtle Anne Elliott, through a mutual friend in Natchitoches shortly after he returned from serving our country as an officer in the United States Navy from 1956-1958. They married on August 27, 1961, raised two sons, and celebrated life together for over 57 years, calling the Brazos Valley their home for the last 49 of those years.
From 1962-1969, Dethloff was, respectively, an instructor, assistant professor, and associate professor at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette, then known as the University of Southwestern Louisiana. He joined the TAMU faculty in 1969 and served as the department chairman from 1980 to 1985. Dr. Dethloff, a professor emeritus of History at Texas A&M University, has written numerous books on topics ranging from NASA and the space program, to agriculture, American business and the history of Texas A&M. Former students will tell you that he was a riveting story teller, masterful in his content knowledge, and according to many previous undergraduates—an arduous grader.
Henry’s adolescent years were shaped by Louisiana culture and its geography. He grew up on, and in Cane River Lake in Central Louisiana. Growing up on the water helped him become a robust swimmer, skilled angler (he was a purist with the fly rod), and as stories are told – one of the only citizens to swim the width of the river completely underwater. Henry made friends easily, had a zest for living, exhibited a great sense of joy, and journeyed through life with a twinkle in his eye and a skip in his step. Although persistent in his viewpoint, he would gladly participate in scholarly dialogue and enjoyed learning about the world and its wonderment. He enjoyed traveling with close friends, crawfish boils, and spending time with Myrtle Anne and their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
Henry is preceded in death by his mother, father, and brother, Carl Richard "Dick" Dethloff formerly of Shreveport, Louisiana. He is survived by his wife Myrtle Anne Dethloff; his sons, Clay Elliott Dethloff and wife Kelly; Carl Henry Dethloff and wife Judy; and eight grandchildren, Brian Dethloff and wife Katie; Stephen Dethloff and wife Sarah; Brittany Dethloff Kyle and husband Kenny; Chris Dethloff and wife Shaye; Cole Dethloff; Riley Dethloff; Abbey and Caroline Dethloff; nine great-grandchildren; and his sister, Cammie D. Girand and husband Charlie of Dallas, Texas.
A celebration of life service will be held at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 2, 2019 at the First United Methodist Church in Bryan, Texas.
The family extends much appreciation to the many friends, family, and medical professionals that provided support and care during Henry’s illness; including Brazos Valley Hospice and Dr. Stephen Tseng.
In lieu of flowers, memorials in his name may be made to Hospice Brazos Valley, 502 West 26th Street, Bryan, Texas 77803.
- Myrtle Anne Elliott Dethloff, Wife
- Clay Elliott & Kelly Dethloff, Son & Daughter-in-law
- Carl Henry & Judy Dethloff, Son & Daughter-in-law
- Brian & Katie Detholff, Grandson & Spouse
- Stephen & Sarah Detholff, Grandson & Spouse
- Brittany Detholff & Kenny Kyle, Granddaughter & Spouse
- Chris & Shaye Dethloff, Grandson & Spouse
- Cole Dethloff, Grandson
- Riley Dethloff, Grandson
- Abbey Dethloff, Granddaughter
- Caroline Dethloff, Granddaughter
- N I N E, Great-Grandchildren
- Cammie D. & Charlie Girand, Sister & Brother-in-law
- Carl Curt Dethloff, Father
- Camelia Jordan, Mother
- Carl Richard "Dick" Dethloff, Brother
- CELEBRATION OF LIFE Saturday, February 2, 2019
Dr. Henry Clay Dethloff
February 1, 2019
David told me of your dad’s passing. It’s always sad to have a loved one leave us; but from reading about your father, it sounds like you will have many happy memories of him and your family. My thoughts are with you.
January 31, 2019
Our many years of friendship have been such a blessing to me. I will miss you my dear, dear friend.
January 28, 2019
We’re going to miss you at coffee. Your insightfulness, your concern for others, your encourgement, and your occasionally giving us a little shove made some of those coffee dates at McD’s the highlight of our week.
You added immeasurably to our discussions and it was often your prodding that got us off of dead center in whatever project we were pursuing at the time.
At least a half dozen books about Aggies and Texas A&M exist because you said, “Don’t give up. Keep trying.”
Between you and Haskell Monroe we were urged to complete the task and, hopefully, the world and our beloved Aggieland is the better for it.
My mind is already turning to your stories about your book on the Johnson Space Center and your tales of providing advance warning of early NASA test flight launches to Navy vessels down the Atlantic range during your seafaring years still spark the imagination.
We wish you fair winds and following seas.
January 28, 2019
Our dear Henry - one of the kindest, most fun, gentlest friends one could ever have. Our lives have been connected for over forty years and you will be terribly missed. So many "gatherings", trips, dinners and family events celebrated together. You leave a giant hole in our hearts sweet friend. Galveston visits will never be the same without you. Not goodbye, but see you later.
January 27, 2019
I had Dr Dethloff for history as a 'fish' in the spring of 1971, and as a 'soph' the next semester. I've always loved history, but Dr. Dethloff really made it come alive for me! I will ALWAYS remember his classes fondly. My wife also co wrote a historical romance, in which Texas A&M played a large part in 1986, and interviewed him as part of the research for it. He was very open and friendly with her, and she enjoyed meeting him immensely. He will be missed.
Robbie Davis '74
January 26, 2019
I well remember Henry Dethloff from my days as an undergraduate history major at USL in Lafayette. Many years later, I was so pleased to rediscover him in College Station, where I came to work with Texas A&M University Press. He served the Press well as an author of multiple books, an editor and contributor to several additional volumes, a key member of the Press's editorial board, and a trusted counselor and friend.
Condolences and best wishes to his family and friends.
January 26, 2019
Best history teacher I sat under in high school and college. I still have his 2 volume History of Texas A&M.
Dan McQueen '72