Pilot Was Philanthropist, Former Microsoft Executive

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bill henningsgaard

Bill Henningsgaard (Courtesy Social Venture Partners)

Bill Henningsgaard, who reportedly was piloting the plane that crashed into two houses in East Haven on Friday, worked for Microsoft for about 14 years and later became heavily involved in local social service and philanthropic efforts.

Henningsgaard was traveling to Connecticut with his son, the Daily Astorian newspaper of Oregon reported, quoting Astoria Mayor Willis Van Dusen.

Social Venture Partners, a Seattle-based organization of nonprofits and philanthropists with which Henningsgaard was affiliated, issued a statement saying that Henningsgaard and his son, Maxwell, were on a trip to visit colleges in the East.

Henningsgaard, a resident of Medina, Wash., was married with three children.

He is listed as the registered agent of Ellumax Leasing, LLC, in Medina, according to the Washington Secretary of State’s Office corporations website. Ellumax is the registered owner of the plane that crashed, according to Federal Aviation Administration records.

At Microsoft, Henningsgaard had worked as vice president of sales for the Western U.S., Australia and New Zealand, the Seattle Times reported.

After leaving Microsoft, he helped start Eastside Pathways, a nonprofit based in Bellevue, Wash., which works to support the area’s youth from “cradle to career,” the Seattle Times said. He has also served as board member and past board chairman of both Youth Eastside Services and Social Venture Partners, which works to connect philanthropists and strengthen nonprofits.

“He is an incredibly good, real, honest man, for the community, for his family, for this world,” Paul Shoemaker, executive connector with Social Venture Partners, told the Seattle Times about Henningsgaard. “The guy has already done so much for the world. And he was going to do so much more.”

Working with children and young adults was “so wired into him,” Shoemaker said. “He knows he was lucky and was given a lot of gifts in life, including family. And he was just going to give it all back.”

“Godspeed to the family with those two little kids in the home,” Shoemaker said. “Bill’s life has been all about helping kids.”

Social Venture Partners’ statement said: “Many of you know firsthand how the extraordinary and visionary leadership of Bill Henningsgaard was visible all over this community. He worked tirelessly to build partnerships and facilitate efforts that put us on the path of engaging the community to actively support every child, step by step, from cradle to career. Bill walked the talk to make our community stronger. … One of the true losses is how much more he had to give, but his legacy is one of authentic, caring commitment to this world.”

Henningsgaard’s mother is Edith Henningsgaard-Miller, the former mayor of Astoria, Ore. His brother is Blair Henningsgaard, who is the city attorney for Astoria.

Bill Henningsgaard had made a crash landing in 2009, while flying to Seattle with his mother, ending up in the Columbia River, where Columbia River Bar Pilots rescued the pair, according to the Daily Astorian.

By Hartford Courant

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