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Bill Henningsgaard, ex-Microsoft VP, Dies in CT Plane Crash

Bill Henningsgaard, an ex-Microsoft vice president, and his son Maxwell, 17, were killed in a small plane that crashed into two homes in East Haven, CT, on Friday, killing two children in the home.

Bill Henningsgaard, center, was killed when his plane crashed Friday Aug. 9, 2013, into two homes in East Haven, CT. Here he is accepting a declaration of "Eastside Pathways Day" at the Bellevue Strawberry Festival 2012. Courtesy Bill Henningsgaard.
Bill Henningsgaard, center, was killed when his plane crashed Friday Aug. 9, 2013, into two homes in East Haven, CT. Here he is accepting a declaration of "Eastside Pathways Day" at the Bellevue Strawberry Festival 2012. Courtesy Bill Henningsgaard.

By Patch Editors Jenn McCulloch, Julie Weisberg, Fay Abrahamsson, Paul Petrone and Venice Buhain

Bill Henningsgaard, an ex-Microsoft vice president and the co-founder of education group Eastside Pathways, and his son were killed in a small plane Friday morning that crashed into two homes in East Haven, CT.

The crash also killed two children, ages 1 and 13, who were in the home at the time, according to East Haven officials quoted in East Haven Patch. The children’s mother escaped the home.

The Daily Astorian newspaper in Astoria, OR  first identified Henningsgaard after speaking with Astoria Mayor Willis Van Dusen, a friend of Henningsgaard’s famiy. Van Dusen told the paper that Henningsgaard’s son was onboard the aircraft with him.

The New Haven Register identified Henningsgaard’s son as 17-year-old Maxwell, who was visiting college campuses with his father

Henningsgaard, a resident of Medina and a founder of Eastside Pathways, an umbrella organization that aims to connect different service agencies and advocates for bridging the education gap in Bellevue schools.

“Bill Henningsgaard was a true advocate for education and children and tremendous support for the Bellevue community. We have lost a dear friend,” said Bellevue School District superintendent Tim Mills, in a prepared statement.

“What a loss to the community,” said Bellevue Deputy Mayor Jennifer Robertson. “He was a leader in making a difference, and he was the force behind Eastside Pathways. Prayers go out to him and his family.” 

Bellevue Mayor Conrad Lee said that Henningsgard’s passing was shocking. 

“He’s a young man, who’s done quite a bit,” he said. “He has done a great job with the Eastside Pathways program. I hope what he has done can continue. What he’s done will make a difference.”

ParentMap magazine profile of Henningsgaard which named him one of the “2013 Superheroes for Washington Families,” said that Henningsgaard, who had been a Microsoft executive for 14 years, was inspired to start Eastside Pathways with John Stokes, now a Bellevue councilman, when he saw how many children were struggling in Bellevue’s schools.

“They were facing hurdles connected to poverty, language and mobility, and our schools weren’t able to close the resulting gaps,” Henningsgaard told ParentMap.

Patti Skelton-McGougan, Executive Director, of Youth Eastside Services, remembered Henningsgaard, who was a trustee of the organization and who led the campaign to raise $10.7 million for a new YES facility. 

“Bill Henningsgaard was an amazing man and an integral part of helping Youth Eastside Services grow to better meet the needs of youth and families in our community,” she said in a prepared statement. “This is a tremendous loss for the community, but our hearts especially go out to his family.”

“Bill was a huge advocate for kids and was a trusted and generous supporter of our community. Our thoughts are with Bills family and in particular his wife and children,” wrote Kim Estes safety educator who runs Savvy Parents, Safe Kids.

Henningsgaard grew up in Astoria, OR, and his family retains strong ties to the community, according to the local paper, The Daily Astorian. His brother, Blair Henningsgaard, is the Astoria city attorney and his mother, Edith Henningsgaard-Miller, is a former mayor.

In 2009, Henningsgaard and his mother were flying to Seattle when they made a crash landing into the Columbia River, where Columbia River Bar Pilots rescued the pair, according to The Daily Astorian.

Henningsgaard and his son are survived by his wife, Susan Sullivan. They have two other children, Eleanor and Lucy.

Eastside Pathways posted a remembrance of Henningsgaard and his son and posted that remembrances be made in the following ways:

  • For Bill, the family invites you to invest in our community, like he did, and make donations to any of the Eastside Pathways partners.
  • For Max, donations can be made to Camp Kiwanilong, located in Warrenton, Oregon.  It was a special place for Max for many years.  He leaves behind many memories and friends.

East Haven Patch is updating the breaking news story of the crash.

The small plane crashed into a house on Charter Oak Avenue in East Haven at around 11:25 a.m., and two children who were in the home at the time were likely killed, according to East Haven’s mayor.

East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo said at a press conference this afternoon that a mother was home with her 13-year-old and 1-year-old when the plane hit her home at 66 Charter Oak Avenue. The mother was able to get out of the house on her own, according to Maturo. 

The plane took off from Teterboro Airport in New Jersey and was set to land in Tweed-New Haven Regional Airport, according to airport manager Lori Hoffman-Soares. The plane missed its approach at Tweed but was in communication with the control tower until the crash, she said.

The pilot showed no sense of panic, according to Hoffman-Soares. Tweed-New Haven Regional Airport has since been closed, she said. The National Transportation Safety Board has since taken over at the scene. 

The home at 64 Charter Oak was damaged by fire as well. 

The pilot showed no sense of panic, according to Hoffman-Soares. Tweed-New Haven Regional Airport has since been closed, she said. The National Transportation Safety Board has since taken over at the scene. 

The home at 64 Charter Oak was damaged by fire as well. Fire departments from East Haven, New Haven, Hamden, Branford and North Branford, and possibly other towns, responded to the scene, according to East Haven Patch. 

East Haven Fire Chief Douglas Jackson said there was an “intense fire and heavy damage” to both houses, a motor vehicle belonging to one of the homeowners, and the plane. 

Gov. Dannel Malloy has since arrived at the scene of the plane crash and is touring the site with Maturo, according to the New Haven Register. 

Monica-Niki Elenbaas August 09, 2013 at 05:58 PM
This is a heartbreaking loss for Bill's family and friends, as well as our entire community. How many people were affected by his vision and volunteering was demonstrated when he won the 2012 Leadership Eastside "Community Choice" LENi Award, just one among so many well-deserved accolades.
Margaret Santjer August 09, 2013 at 10:13 PM
Heavy hearts at Grace Lutheran. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family.
Polly Hopkins August 09, 2013 at 10:23 PM
We have lost an amazing light. So sad for the family.
Tatiana Guzman August 10, 2013 at 02:53 PM
this is so sad, they seem like true awesome people, here are pictures of his wife Susan sullivan http://dailyentertainmentnews.com/tv/susan-sullivan-henningsgaard-former-microsoft-executive-bill-henningsgaards-wife/

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