Medical 10

Robert William Henkens

August 7, 1932 ~ August 31, 2019 (age 87)


Robert William Henkens, 87, of Beaufort, passed away Saturday, August 31, 2019 at home.

Robert was born in Chicago on August 7, 1932. At the age of 17 he left home and found work on the railroad in Alaska. He joined the U.S. Navy and served during the Korean War. After the war, he studied art, but switched to chemistry in order to support his growing family. He obtained degrees and research experience at the Universities of Omaha, Washington, Yale and Harvard eventually receiving his Ph.D. He joined the faculty of the Duke University Chemistry Department where he combined research and teaching for many years while also writing papers and authoring patents. He resigned from Duke to lead a biotech company, Alderon Biosciences, Inc., which he founded and supported with federal and state grants. His invention of a portable hand-held monitor for accurately measuring blood lead levels in children was hailed as “a gift from the U.S. National Institutes of Health to the children of the world”. His innovative research continued throughout his life, bringing advanced electrochemical monitoring technologies to bear on many human health problems. His pleasure in scientific discovery was matched only by his enjoyment of travel and exploration of the world with his wife.

The family will celebrate his life privately.

He is survived by his wife, Celia Bonaventura of the home; his children, Cathi; Paul; Susan; David; and stepchildren, Michelle and Marina.

Condolences and life tributes may be sent to the family at

Arrangements by Noe Funeral Service, Inc. of Beaufort, NC.

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