Heni passed away peacefully on December 8, 2020, at age 84. He was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, to parents who emigrated from the Philippines in the 1930s to work in Hawaii’s sugar cane and pineapple plantations. One of his earliest memories occurred when looking at the newspaper comics one Sunday morning, and then hearing explosions and planes overhead; a Japanese Zero flying low enough that he could see the pilot’s face as the surprise attack began its approach across Oahu and towards Pearl Harbor. His life took an utterly unpredictable course, from an early rural childhood in Kahuku, through urban Honolulu, then college in New York City and medical school in Boston. Heni had a lifelong passion for education, believing that his life’s course was made possible by the opportunity afforded him through academic scholarships to the Punahou School and Columbia University, and those educators who inspired him along the way. After Boston University School of Medicine and military service as Captain in the U.S. Army Medical Corps during the Vietnam era, he pursued a rewarding career in academic medicine that brought him from Boston, to North Dakota, three different stints in Saudi Arabia, Providence, and finally Cape Cod, which was always a beacon and the family home for many years.
Heni was thrilled to have practiced into his 80s, and immensely proud of his children and grandchildren. He could not have achieved his life’s work and dreams without the constant support of his friend, partner, and wife Susan, to whom he gave his love and devotion through 44 years of marriage. Heni is survived by a large and loving family: his wife Susan; children Celeste and Steve Zukowski, grandchildren Mikayla and Maya; Chris Gascon and Kathy Everly, grandchildren Nico and Lucas; Phil and Diana Gascon, grandchildren Deacon, Landon, and Isla; and Doug Gascon and Kerry O’Brien; siblings Enriqueta Gascon and Enrique Gascon; and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews spread from Hawaii to Massachusetts. Heni was predeceased by his mother Esperanza Gutierrez, his cherished step-father Enrique Gascon, and his sister Estrelia Lohmeier.
As a renowned pediatric neurologist and researcher, Heni founded the Learning Disabilities Clinic at Boston Children’s Hospital (with Peter Wolff), broke new ground with treatment trials on subacute sclerosing panencephalitis, a disease caused by the measles virus, and started pediatric neurology programs at several teaching hospitals. He had a wide range of professional interests that began with epilepsy, and was regarded as a specialist in behavioral neurology/neuropsychiatry, and comprehensively focused on neurometabolic and genetic diseases. Most of all, Heni wanted to be remembered as a good clinician, a meticulous diagnostician who was treatment oriented; genuinely caring for, learning from, and educating patients and their families.
Heni loved to travel, with his years abroad allowing for family trips through Germany, Greece, Egypt, Kenya, and Turkey, among others. A dedicated family man and sports enthusiast, he founded youth sports programs that included the Riyadh Oilers, an ice hockey team in Saudi Arabia, and with Susan the Riyadh Youth Athletic Association, weekend recreational sports programs for kids citywide. He loved to play tennis and golf, and spent many hours playing his numerous ukuleles to the delight of family and friends. He will be remembered as a wonderful husband, father, grandfather, uncle, colleague, and friend, a true role model for all who knew him.
Heni was put to rest at a private ceremony on December 11, 2020, at the Massachusetts National Cemetery, surrounded by his immediate family. In lieu of flowers, the family would encourage donations to the Epilepsy Foundation of New England: https://epilepsynewengland.org