At Home with the Henrys

 

Written by Melanie Phillips Clemens in the November 2011 Issue

Former Governor Brad Henry knew that life after being in office would involve a shift from the limelight to the private sector with a different career as well as a new home. What he didn’t expect was finding that home before his term ended.

"My wife, Kim, began looking at houses in January of 2010 and in April she found one outside Edmond that had everything we wanted. I wasn’t ready to buy because I was still in office. But when other people became interested in ‘our’ house we had to make an offer. They accepted and we owned this house for seven months before we could move in," said Henry. Even though the Henry’s home is technically within Oklahoma City limits, they’re pleased to have an Edmond address and be serviced by the Edmond post office. "We love south Edmond with its trees and hills. We wanted a place with acreage and now we have it," he said.

Although Henry enjoyed his time in the Governor’s Mansion, he’s thankful for the direction his life has taken. "For the last eight years, it seemed as if my family was in a big fishbowl. It was difficult at times but the media was really great to not try to drag my family into things. They gave my three girls privacy and they didn’t camp outside our house," he said. "However, living in the Governor’s Mansion was very different because there’s always people in the house, such as staff and security. Even though it makes you feel secure, you’re constantly under observation. Now, I have less stress and a lot more time to spend with my family."

With Henry’s 18-year political history, one might think politics is in his blood. Yet it’s not so much politics that motivates Henry, but rather a heart of service. "My desire is to make a difference and help people," he said. "I want my hand in something, whether implementing or developing policy, that can help Oklahoma families have a better quality of life. I’ll always be involved in public service in some form or fashion but not necessarily from an elective standpoint."

With no plans to run for office, Henry enjoys working with his partner, former chief of staff Gerald Adams, at their general consulting firm, Henry-Adams Companies, LLC. "People hire us to help resolve problems, and we’re pretty good at it because of the incredible relationships we’ve made over the years in the state, the U.S. and the world. Success in the business world is more about relationships than anything else. It’s not only what you know, which is important, it’s also who you know and the relationships that you’ve built," explained Henry.

A medical facility in Edmond has benefited from the collective knowledge of Henry-Adams. "They were having problems becoming an in-network provider with insurance companies. As a result they weren’t paid directly by insurance companies for services and were always chasing millions of dollars and we helped them get credentialed," said Henry.

With an Edmond home and Norman-based consulting firm, Henry’s position with Edmond’s own Lester, Loving & Davies law firm is ideal. "I am of counsel at Lester, Loving and Davies. I’m not a partner or an employee because I don’t want to practice law full time. This firm is the perfect size. It’s big enough to handle any kind of legal matter but not so big they get bogged down in bureaucracy," he said. "They’ve given me the freedom to do other things."

Speculation that ‘other things’ would include becoming president of UCO were unfounded. "I don’t know how these things get started. President Webb announced his retirement about the time we bought our Edmond home and people assumed that a political deal had been made somewhere. My name was prominently mentioned so Kim and I gave serious thought to doing that. It would’ve been a wonderful position because I think UCO is one of the top universities in Oklahoma. They’ve got some really great things happening and they’re growing. But by the time it came open I was so far down the road with other commitments. There were no deals. I never threw my name in the hat for consideration and was never a formal candidate. I think UCO’s new president will do an exceptional job," said Henry.

Henry prides himself in following in his family’s heritage and striving to apply the wisdom of his grandparents. "My grandparents told me if I was lucky enough to have a free public education, I owed a debt back to society. My uncle Lloyd said many times ‘Service is the rent you pay for the space you occupy’," said Henry. With this type of legacy it’s no surprise to see his daughters pursuing leadership even on a small scale. "Both of my oldest daughters have expressed an interest in politics. They follow public policy and are fairly opinionated. My oldest daughter, Leah, is running for vice president of the freshman OU medical class. I want them to do whatever they want. Politics is a tough business and you have to have thick skin and a strong stomach."

Although Henry isn’t seeking to serve from a government standpoint, he continues to spearhead ways to help improve Oklahoma. "I’m still interested in good policy, building my community in Edmond, in OKC and the state of Oklahoma."

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