8/1/1970 – 8/19/2020
A few weeks ago, Bob Henline posted on his Facebook page that he’d just received what could possibly be the best inadvertent compliment of his career: “Ya know, Bob, we didn’t have corruption here before you came to town.” A perfect epitaph for this uncompromising journalist who spent his life raking the muck, rousing the rabble, and fighting one good fight after another.
Bob achieved much in his 50 short years, ranging from writing speeches for a presidential campaign to penning award-winning exposes of corruption for multiple newspapers. He also officiated at quite a few weddings, including the first legal same-sex marriage in the State of Utah, as well as his sister-in-law Rachel’s.
Born in South Jordan, Utah, Bob graduated from Bingham High School in 1988 and went on to study political science, philosophy, and history at Boston University, followed by graduate work in public administration at Georgetown University.
Fresh out of college, he worked on Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign, where his work was directly edited by George Stephanopolous. A few years after that, he became the political director for the Electoral Fairness Project, a grass-roots campaign seeking to abolish the electoral college in favor of a national popular vote. In that capacity, he wrote a short history of the electoral college and outlined the case for changing it in the book Constitutional Inequality.
Following a stint with the Tooele, Utah, paper The Tooele Transcript, a chance phone call led him to a columnist position for QSaltLake Magazine, where he became a tireless advocate for LGBTQ+ rights. During his five years at Q, he rose to become assistant editor, won two “Fabby” readers-choice awards for Best Columnist, and was instrumental in the fight to legalize same-sex marriage in Utah. In recognition of his efforts, Q named him “Utah’s Bulldog for the LGBT Community,” which he frequently said was his greatest achievement.
Following the landmark Supreme Court decision that allowed same-sex marriage at last, other horizons — and causes — beckoned. Bob and his beloved wife Melissa moved to Libby, Montana, where he served first as editor and reporter for The Western News and then as editor and publisher of the glossy Kootenai Country Montana magazine. He earned multiple honors during this time, including Best Enterprise Journalist for a six-part series about childhood sexual abuse in Lincoln County, Mont., and awards for investigative reporting, as well as recognition for his marketing efforts on behalf of Montana tourism.
Most recently, Bob had returned to journalism as the editor of The Cordell Beacon in Cordell, OK, where he again was honored for his writing, editing, in-depth reporting, and photography by the Oklahoma Press Association.
Somehow, as busy as he was with his career, he also managed to find time for a life in between the accolades and the hard work. Bob enjoyed good scotch, fine cigars, and smoking his own meats, as well as photography, golf, and making his own beer. And he enjoyed his family and many, many friendships.
Bob died while on his way home to Oklahoma following a visit to family and friends in Utah.
Preceded in death by his niece Aimee Henline, Bob is survived by his brother Ken Henline; his spouse Melissa Henline; children Aidyn Henline, Ethan Henline, Ariana Bronson (Riley), Anthony Bronson, Philicia Sorensen (Teo); grandchildren Axton and Xavier; and numerous friends and colleagues.
He loved a good argument, but he loved people more, and if you were lucky enough to be loved by him, you never had a more dauntless protector. Or a better friend. The world could have used him for much longer than it had him.
A GoFundMe fundraiser to help cover the medical and LifeFlight expenses is at gofundme.com/f/8qcd45-20000 or Venmo @melissa-henline