Russell W Henke, P. E., a true driving force in establishing the Fluid Power Institute at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE), died November 2, 2015 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Born April 28, 1924, Henke graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin with a BS in Mechanical Engineering. Prior to that, he joined the U.S. Navy at age 19, trained for flight school, and served in the Pacific on an aircraft carrier during World War II.
As a faculty member at MSOE, Henke established the country’s first accredited fluid-power curriculum in 1958. The program began as non-credit evening course, evolved into an associate degree in fluid-power engineering technology, and culminated as a major in fluid power under MSOE’s BSME and BSEE programs. While a faculty member at MSOE, he and several local fluid-power companies established MSOE’s Fluid Power Institute in 1962. Henke served as its first director until 1968, when he became executive director of the Fluid Power Society.
During his long career in fluid power, he served as Director of Research and Development at Racine Hydraulics, Director of Engineering at American Marietta Corp., Chief Research and Development Engineer at Badge Meter Co., and later founded Fluid Power Consultants International. In this capacity, he traveled internationally for fluid-power engineering consulting and education, and often served as an expert witness in litigation.
He authored and co-authored several technical textbooks, including Fluid Power Systems & Circuits, which is still sold by Hydraulics & Pneumatics. He also wrote dozens of technical articles for Hydraulics & Pneumatics, Machine Design, and Diesel Progress magazines, and taught continuing education classes on fluid power at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Henke is survived by his wife of 68 years, Connie; son, Christopher (Ahura); and daughter, Pamela (Jerome) Luedtke.