Edward E. ‘Buzz’ Henifin, retired Navy captain

July 28, 2020


Captain Edward E. “Buzz” Henifin, U.S. Navy, 88, made his final PCS Saturday, July 25, 2020.

He is survived by the love of his life and wife of 65 years, Betsy; his children Ann Reddick, David Henifin (Jeanne) and Ted Henifin (Pam); five grandchildren, David Reddick (Darlene), Elisabeth Francis (Christopher), Cate Henderson (Caleb), Wells Henifin and Jimmy Henifin; and four great-grandchildren; Monroe and Presley Reddick, Huntleigh Henderson and Freyja Francis.

Buzz was born in Madison, S.D. He was preceded in death by his mother, Rose Vreyens Henifin, and his father Ralph Henifin. Buzz graduated from high school in Minneapolis, Minn., and went on to the U.S. Naval Academy, despite having never seen an ocean! A proud member of the class of ‘54, Buzz pursued a career in submarines. The Navy took Buzz and Betsy (and children as they arrived) up and down the East Coast (Newport, New London, Key West, Portsmouth), west to Seattle and San Diego, and finally homesteading in the metro D.C. area for the last 13 years of his 30-year career. His decision to homestead in the D.C. area was likely career-limiting, but allowed all three children to graduate from the same high school and really allowed the family to put down roots, much deeper than a typical military family.

Highlights of his distinguished career include executive officer of the USS Albacore, commanding officer of the USS Pomfret and commanding officer of the Naval Research Lab. Buzz spent significant time deep below the ocean as part of the Navy’s deep submergence program, including as commanding officer of the Trieste II. He participated in searches for the USS Thresher, the USS Scorpion and various classified items lost at sea, including a hydrogen bomb and a reel of surveillance film dropped from a U.S. spy satellite. The family learned about the classified missions after they were declassified and appeared in various publications - Buzz still would not confirm or deny! Betsy finds it ironic that the Navy paid him to find small items in big oceans when she had to find everything for him in his own house!

Buzz and Betsy retired to Fenwick Island, where they quickly became part of the community. Buzz served on the Fenwick Island Town Council and various committees and volunteered for the Center for the Inland Bays, the James Farm, and as a water quality monitor for the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. Buzz was an oyster gardener before it was in vogue and a regular participant as well as leader of many beach clean-ups. 

Buzz was an active member of Ocean View Presbyterian Church where much of his time and energy was spent working behind the scenes as a leader of the Building and Grounds Committee as he had at Bush Hill Presbyterian in northern Virginia. He enjoyed volunteering with Christmas in April and Habitat for Humanity. A true servant leader, Buzz earned the respect of those he worked with, those he worked for and those who worked for him by rolling up his sleeves and doing whatever needed to be done. Yes, he could still bark orders to the end, but they were only barked to get the job done. If Buzz said he would take care of it - you know it would be done.

A gracious host, Buzz enjoyed having family and friends over, and always stocked everyone’s favorite beverages. He and Betsy threw some memorable parties throughout the years, including a particularly lively evening with crew members from a Peruvian submarine and a lot of limbo dancing. Buzz valued friendships with former shipmates and neighbors across the country, USNA classmates, Bush Hill friends, the Ocean View men’s breakfast group and the Fenwick Island Usual Suspects. He will be missed by all who had the privilege to know him. We will always hear him - loud, clear and ungarbled!

Plans for a COVID responsible service and remembrances are in the works. 

Donations in Buzz’s memory can be made to The Dolphin Scholarship Foundation, The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays, Delaware Hospice or Ocean View Presbyterian Church.

Online condolences may be sent by visiting


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