Nov. 7, 1926-Oct. 9, 2018
Catherine Augusta Nelken Bienvenu Henry, formerly of Natchitoches and San Antonio, Texas, died Oct. 9, 2018, in Tyler, Texas, at the age of 91.
Preceding her in death were her husbands, Dr. René J. Bienvenu Jr. and Douglas “Doug” Henry Sr.; parents, Sylvan and Lennie Nelken; sisters, Sarah “Bettye” Woodyard and Dorothy Ann Owen; brother, Sam Nelken; and brother-in-law, John Woodyard.
Catherine is survived by her children, Dr. Steven Bienvenu (Diana) of Shreveport, Dr. Elizabeth Bienvenu of Brownsboro, Texas, and Patricia Franklin (Clay) of Hot Springs Village, Ark.; grandchildren, Dr. John Bienvenu (Andrea), Ryan Bienvenu, Kimberly Franklin and Jonas Franklin; great-grandchildren, Brooks Bienvenu, Knox Bienvenu, Taylor Anderson, Haley Franklin and Eden Turner; brother-in-law, Dr. Thomas Owen; and several nieces and nephews. She is also survived by Doug’s son, Douglas Henry Jr. (Paula); grandchildren, Andrea Daigle (Jeremy), Adrianna Henry, Douglas Henry III, Luis Henry and Dustin Sparage; and great-grandsons, Beau and Levi Daigle
. Catherine, also known lovingly as Cat, Stella, Ole Lady and Granny B, was born in Crowley Nov. 7, 1926. She grew up in Natchitoches in a tin-roofed house held together with wooden pegs on the hill at Normal College (later becoming Northwestern State College and even later Northwestern State University) where her father was a faculty member and then Dean of Administration. She would say she “just moved down the hill” to the President’s Home when her husband René served as President of Northwestern State University from 1977-82.
She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Commercial Education in 1945 from Northwestern State College and Master’s Degree in Business Education from Northwestern State University in 1972. She held several secretarial positions over the years, including for her husband René, before beginning her teaching career in the Natchitoches Parish School System teaching high school business courses.
She moved to San Antonio to live near her sisters following the deaths of René and her parents. Her final move was to Tyler, Texas, after Doug’s death to live near Beth. She was an active member of the Association of Natchitoches Women for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches whose founders included her namesake aunt, Augusta Nelken, one of the eight charter members of the organization. After moving to San Antonio, Catherine joined the Blue Bird Auxiliary of San Antonio’s Methodist Healthcare System and loved volunteering in the Methodist Hospital gift shop. It was there she met her second husband Doug who was also a volunteer with the auxiliary.
Catherine was an avid reader who particularly enjoyed biographies and good fiction. She began each day with a cup of coffee while she worked the newspaper’s daily crossword puzzle. She enjoyed traveling over the years to such places as England, Austria, Africa and China. Playing bridge was her passion; she definitely thought “out of the box” when bidding. She refused to miss the game, even when feeling “under the weather.” She played her last bridge game one week before she died.
We all miss her witty, sometimes sharp, comments! She remained loyal her entire life to Community Dark Roast Coffee and chocolate…especially Hershey Bar Cake, spice bars and dark chocolate-coated orange peels. She dearly loved Natchitoches, Northwestern and the many special friends who were part of her life there.
A Celebration of Catherine’s life for family and friends will be Saturday, May 18 at 4 p.m. at Merci Beaucoup, Natchitoches.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the NSU Foundation, ATTN: The R. J. Bienvenu Scholarship fund or ATTN: The Sylvan Nelken Scholarship fund at Northwestern State University, 535 University Parkway, Natchitoches, La 71497.