Henry A. Verden of Stoughton, Wisconsin, passed away suddenly, but peacefully, at the age of 68 on Monday, February 13th, after a battle with cancer.
Henry was born in Madison, Wisconsin, and graduated from Madison West High School in 1972. He lived and attended college in Stevens Point, moved to Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Chicago, and finally fell in love with Stoughton.
WORK & HOBBIES
Henry worked in many different industries. He was a writer, humorist, and avid reader. His articles and stories entertained and informed, whether he was writing about his personal experiences or Bountiful Cupboard Magazine, which he co-founded with his wife, Mary-Carel, to promote local food before it was a trend.
Watching endless documentaries, reading non-fiction, and quirky stories gave Henry a vast command of trivia and friends used him as a source of answers to small and large questions long before Siri or Alexa existed.
Henry loved shopping in unique stores, including but by no means limited to antique shops, trashy tourist stores, exquisite museum boutiques, estate sales (the funkier the better), Renaissance Festivals, and festivals of all kinds. His massive lapel pin collection was always a part of his search and a source of pride and curiosity.
Henry had a passion for theater at all levels. His work as a dramaturg/researcher on countless plays and musicals made the shows he worked on richer, more accurate, and more interesting. He’d spend countless hours looking for the perfect period flag for Music Man, the right little Coke bottles for Westside Story, the history of Titanic, or legend of Dracula. He developed the script for Drakula—The Performance and worked with the actors and creative team endlessly to turn that show into a passionate fusion of dance and story. His pride in the work of the actors and creatives on that show and every other production he was involved in knew no bounds.
Henry built beautiful sets on tiny budgets, and he brought the visions of his wife and director/designer to life. He performed, wrote, taught, worked as tech crew, and directed in theaters throughout his life. His favorite phrase was “Theater Without a Net” to describe the often too short and underfunded process that community theaters face.
Henry was the go-to guy when you needed a unique costume or set piece. He helped build a life-size King Kong, live gargoyles, Squidward’s working legs, tall geta sandals for Mikado, and numerous other challenging projects.
A teacher at Stoughton Center for the Arts for 25 years, he inspired drama students there and as part of forensics teams at Stoughton and Milton. He was thrilled to see those kids grow from shy beginners to polished performers and amazing human beings.
FRIENDS AND FAMILY
He was fortunate enough to find the love of his life early (in a production of Rumpelstiltskin) and their love was boundless, and an example of what marriage can be. Their travels were one of his favorite things — whether moving across the US or visiting the world’s largest ball of twine just around the corner. They did everything together. They complemented each other’s skills and personalities, loved theater, good food, and family and friends.
They had one son, Frederick (Eric) Verden. He was their pride and joy; a source of endless fun and a carbon copy of his dad in many ways.
Patient, kind, always ready to help a friend spend a fun afternoon building a deck or a set, see something new, or cook a great meal. He made numerous lifelong friendships and held those special people close to his heart.
He adored his family, treasured his charming, Swedish father, unique sisters, and loving mother. He made everyone laugh and was a favorite relative for his nieces and nephews who loved his playfulness, funky t-shirts, and great stories.
Henry is survived by his wife of 45 years, Mary-Carel; and his son Eric. He is also survived by his sisters, Geraldine Breezer (Don) and Dianna Wachter (Robert); as well as nieces, nephews, and many others who loved him. He was preceded in death by his father, Artur, and mother, Ann Verden.
A Celebration of Life for Henry will be held on Sunday, February 26, at the Stoughton Opera House from 2–5 PM. There will be a sweets table and treats in the Opera House Ghost Light Lounge after a short service and all are welcome. Stoughton Opera House is located at 381 E. Main St, Stoughton, WI, 53589. Donations may be made at https://everloved.com/life-of/henry-verden/. If you’d like to bring a plate of cookies (Henry’s favorite treat) you can sign up at tinyurl.com/sweetstable.
Henry and his family would like to thank Henry’s favorite theater, Stoughton Opera House, for their help and support during this week and always.