John Geoffrey “Jeff” Henrietta

John Geoffrey “Jeff” Henrietta passed away peacefully on Friday, July 23, 2021 at the University of Virginia hospital ICU in Charlottesville, Va. He was born the only son of five children on July 7, 1937 to the late John and Eleanor Henrietta in Cleveland Ohio. He was preceded in death by his sister, Val and his granddaughters, Megan and Nicole Bell.

He is survived by his wife, Ellie Whinnery Henrietta, 6 children, 14 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren. He is also survived by his three sisters and their families.

Jeff was a man of the earth but not the world.  He loved his God, served his country [in the Air Force], taught, mentored and encouraged so many young people and adults in horticulture, agriculture and spiritual direction.  He was a student of Fr. Chet Michael’s Spiritual Direction Institute.  Jeff had a wonderful sense of humor and a knack for dispensing advice profoundly wise yet simply put.

He raised horses, taught children equestrian skills, established the first horticulture 4-H club in Ohio and was a master propagator of hundreds of thousands of plants, shrubs, trees and flowers annually.  In 1984 he moved to Charlottesville, Va. with Ellie to start his own nursery and landscape business – Henri Ltd, that he operated for close to 30 years prior to retiring.  For a decade Jeff was the “Real Santa” at Fashion Square Mall. He considered his role of Santa a true ministry.

Jeff was also a chef extraordinaire, creating many new and delectable recipes he shared with family and friends. His taste in music was eclectic from opera to country to rock-n-roll.  In his younger days, he was a DJ; he even owned a pair of blue suede shoes and had quick and smooth dance moves.

Until the time of his death, Jeff [with Ellie] were lay directors for the Cursillo movement of the greater Richmond Diocese that has grown to more than 8,000 men and women sharing their spiritual journey.  He was a member of the Knights of Columbus, served on Parish Council, Justice and Peace, the Prison Ministry and when he lectored at church, he did so in a deep [Barry White] voice. Henri Ltd also donated many of the landscape plants at the entrance to the church.

He did not spend his time storing treasures on earth. Like St. Francis, Jeff preached the gospel and when necessary used words.

A funeral service was held at Sts. Peter and Paul church in Palmyra, Va. on Saturday, August 14, 2021 at 11:00 a.m.

Because of Jeff’s love for animals and his beloved dogs and cats (all were rescues), in lieu of flowers the family requests that memorial contributions be made in Jeff’s memory to Caring for Creatures Animal Rescue at 352 Sanctuary Lane, Palmyra, VA 22963 or to Cursillo in c/o Roy/Karen Norville, Center Directors, 340 Elk Lane, Massanutten, VA 22840.

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