Remembering Bill Henningsgaard, former Microsoft exec who died in plane crash

henningsgaard

Bill Henningsgaard

Authorities in Connecticut confirmed over the weekend that former Microsoft executive Bill Henningsgaard, 54, was killed Friday in a plane crash in East Haven, Conn., along with his 17-year-old son, Max, and two children in the home that was struck by the plane.

The news has resulted in an outpouring of stories about Henningsgaard, who worked at Microsoft for 14 years and made an outsized impact in the world of philanthropy. He was the founder of Eastside Pathways, a group that provides support for a variety of children’s initiatives.

Social Venture Partners, where Henningsgaard was a member, writes that he “worked tirelessly to build partnerships and facilitate efforts that put us on the path of engaging the community to actively support every child.”

Former Microsoft executive Jeff Raikes, now the CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, tells the Seattle Times that Henningsgaard was “a great thinker” at Microsoft who made an even larger impact on the community.

And Crosscut publisher Greg Shaw, who worked with Henningsgaard at Microsoft, remembers him in this column.

“I first met Bill in a sunny, off-campus office in downtown Bellevue when we both worked for Microsoft,” writes Shaw. “I can’t recall the circumstances of the meeting, but I remember being struck by something I didn’t always find among my colleagues at Microsoft. He listened. Mostly people had ideas and opinions to assert, but Bill listened, asked thoughtful questions and always ended with a crisp summary of what was decided and what was to come next.”

Henningsgaard grew up in Astoria, Ore., and lived in Medina, Wash. Social Venture Partners notes that Henningsgaard and his son were on the East Coast visiting colleges. The children who died in the home were 13-year-old Sade Brantley and 1-year-old Madisyn Mitchell. More details on the crash are available in this CBS News report.

  • Guest

    Very sad story all around.