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'Always a Viking': Beloved Utah County wrestling coach and Hall-of-Famer honored

Posted at 8:49 PM, Jan 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-29 22:57:47-05

PLEASANT GROVE, Utah — A pillar of the community was laid to rest in Utah County Saturday afternoon. Darold Henry was not only known as a beloved coach and church leader, but someone neighbors said built their community.

Lining the street in front of the Pleasant Grove High School stood friends and community members — the residue of a life well-lived.

"He was always smiling," said Macoy, a high schooler taking a class from Henry's son.

Ryan Newman, a history teacher at Pleasant Grove High School, was once Henry's student and athlete.

"He built this community," said Newman. "If the Pleasant Grove Viking was a person, he would be it.”

Henry held many titles: Husband, father, wrestler, firefighter, teacher, and man of faith. But there was one title that, perhaps, Henry was most known as: Coach.

"We are who we are as a community because of Coach Henry," said Newman.

Henry was the head wrestling coach and assistant football coach at Pleasant Grove High School.

"He demanded your best," said Newman, who played football under Assistant Coach Henry. "He demanded hard work."

Henry was described as superman, yet the coach wasn't exempt from the trials of life.

Coach Henry's wife Belva said her husband was born on his parents' kitchen table in Denver, Colorado with his twin brother.

"If you were to sit down and watch a Netflix movie that depicted a young man's story such as his, you would need a big box of tissues," Belva said at the service. "How in the world could a young man with his experience and his life and his circumstances ever make anything of himself? Well, Darold proved that could be done."

It was Henry's athletic coaches that Belva said helped him through the young years of his life.

At age nine, Henry and two of his brothers were placed in an orphanage, where he learned to wrestle — a sport that shaped his life.

Eventually, Henry's father remarried and was able to bring him and his brothers home to Nebraska, where he excelled in wrestling.

It was in Nebraska that Henry met his wife Belva, who was attending their rival high school.

Henry received wrestling scholarships to many different colleges but ended up choosing to go to Brigham Young University.

After graduation, Henry accepted a teaching and coaching job at Pleasant Grove High School.

"The boys he coached taught him as much as he taught them," said Belva.

It was their move to Provo that introduced the Henrys to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Henrys were baptized almost a decade after they first arrived.

Coach Henry was elected into the Wrestling Hall of Fame three times as a wrestler, a referee, and a coach.

Henry refereed 33 NCAA Wrestling Championship Finals and was also an alternate for the 1968 U.S. Olympic Wrestling Team.

He had a life well-lived that has impacted hundreds, including FOX 13's Bob Evans.

"He coached all four of our older boys in wrestling," said Evans. "Everyone who has ever had contact with him, myself included, felt loved by him.”

Around 20 to 30 years ago, Evans featured Coach Henry and his wife in a story on teen suicide after they lost their son Tony.

"Coach, the giver that he is, and Belva, his wife were willing to talk about it," said Evans. "They wanted to talk about it, and they wanted to share with us what they were feeling and what they were going through in hopes of helping others avoid what they were going through.”

As the years went by, Coach Henry went on to serve as a firefighter with the Pleasant Grove Fire Department and eventually served as a captain.

Upon retirement, Henry and his wife served in religious positions as a bishop, stake president, and as missionaries within the Pleasant Grove area.

On Jan. 21, 2022, the 79-year-old was reunited with his son Tony after suffering an unexpected heart attack.

“Here is a man who lived a very full life, and we’re celebrating him now for the fact that he loved everybody," said Evans. "He loved everybody, and as you can see, everybody loved him right back.”

Coach Henry's funeral procession took him on one last drive past the high school, where firefighters draped Old Glory and neighbors let off blue and white balloons as he passed.

"Thank you everyone for loving him. I had no idea how much he was loved," said Belva.

The community will light the "G" on the hillside Saturday evening in Coach Henry's honor.

His full obituary can be read here.