In memoriam: Henning Thing
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In memoriam: Henning Thing

Photo above: Gabrielle. In August 1999, I went around photographing all my colleagues at the Danish Polar Center, among other Henning Thing.

Dear Friend and former colleague, Henning Thing (1948 – 2023) has regrettably lost his battle against cancer. He passed away Thursday, April 13 at home surrounded by his closest family. Under the circumstances, this was the best you could wish for him. It was almost surreal when Henning informed us two years ago that he had been diagnosed with an incurable type of cancer. Somehow, it seemed impossible that a healthy, vibrant and energetic person like Henning should succumb to lethal cancer. He was like an immortal, full of light, humour and energy. But sadly, cancer doesn’t work that way. Anyone can fall victim. I’m just happy he got his years of retirement, where he and his wife, Eva could travel the world, see their four children grow up, and experience the joy of grandchildren being added to the family.

Photo: Gabrielle. Henning entertaining all of us with a talk about polar ancestry at the reception for his retirement at the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen.

Henning was a treasured colleague of mine from my time as an academic employee at the Danish Polar Center (DPC) 1999 – 2002. I was lucky to end up in an office with Henning, the Arctic wildlife biologist and senior consultant, and Irene Seiten, the graphic layout manager of Polarfronten. Thus, I was ensured endless entertainment and inspiration during my working hours. Henning encapsulated the meaning of being a ‘Polar researcher’. He had done so many interesting projects in Greenland, from counting reindeer in West Greenland, to starting the Zackenberg Research Station in Northeast Greenland, to being responsible for getting our ‘Ikka project’ started in Southwest Greenland. Further, he was an excellent story teller and a frequent author of popular science articles from the Arctic. He always had so many sparkling ideas. We got the concept of ‘Polarnatten’ up and running during the annual culture night in Copenhagen, and Henning (and others) thought it was a brilliant idea to bring our Siberian Husky and friends’ Greenland sled dogs to the Polar Night event. It worked surprisingly well, we even drove a sled dog team around Christianshavn in the dark. For the rest, the sled dogs were lined up on a stake out, where children could come and pet them. Whatever you might think about sled dogs, Siberians are perfect friendly pets for children!

Photo: DPC. Gabrielle with my old lead dogs Vanja and Viljar at Polarnatten, Danish Polar Center in Copenhagen.

Luckily for me, I was able to keep in contact with Henning and Eva, even when I left Denmark and started a research career abroad. There have been many nice social visits to their home in Bagsværd, and Henning kindly took care of my Greenland rocks during the time I was without a permanent home. They would get lots of love and care in his amazing garden landscape. Often when you came to visit, the first stop would be a tour of the garden to see what new projects he had up and running. Henning and Eva came on a visit to Stockholm, while I was living there and it was great to have friends from old days checking up on you. All my warmest thoughts and condolences goes to Eva, their children and in-laws, and the grandchildren! The funeral service (bisættelse) will take place from Bagsværd Church on Friday April 21 at 11 o’clock.

Photo: Gabrielle. Henning and Eva Thing at a restaurant in ‘Gamla Stan’, Stockholm. A lovely couple!