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John Henry Chaney, Sr. went peacefully home to be with his Heavenly Father on January 22, 2024, at his home in Oviedo, Florida with his daughter Mary and son-in-law Kelvin by his side. After being diagnosed in previous years with Prostate Cancer that had spread through his bones, he never complained about his challenges. Henry was born on December 4, 1919, and recently celebrated his 104th birthday. He is the son of the late Asa Chaney and Mary Ellen Dorsey Chaney. His maternal great-grandmother, Elizabeth Johnson Gibson, lived to be 102. Henry was the second oldest of five children, James, Earl Leonard, Phoebe, and Calvin Francis Foreman.
Henry attended grade school at Rocky Hill Elementary in Clarksburg, however, he had to leave school at an early age to help provide for the family. Henry began work around nine years old, scrubbing kitchen floors for approximately two years. At eleven, he began working for various local farmers as a field hand for several years. He also worked as a Mason, helping to build homes in Clarksburg. He worked alongside his dad for many years doing masonry work in Bethesda.
Henry was drafted into the United States Marine Corps on November 18, 1943, as à United States Marine. He embarked on a journey that would take him around the world by train and by ship. He served with the 8th Ammunition Company, FMF, PAC. His Military Occupational Specialties (MOS) were Motor Transport, Supply, and Infantry. He was stationed at Camp Lejeune, NC; Hilo, Hawaii; Kyushu, Japan; Pearl Harbor, Iwo Jima; San Diego, CA, and San Francisco, CA. He was a Motor Transport Operator who hauled ammunition to the frontline during WWII. In 1945 he was in combat at Iwo Jima where the Marines’ famous raising of the flag took place. In addition to being decorated with various ribbons and medals for duties performed, Henry was awarded the Iwo Jima Campaign Medal, National Defense Medal, and Sharp Shooter Medal. He received an honorable discharge on November 23, 1945.
After leaving the Marines, he worked different jobs. He learned how to lay bricks and became a very gifted bricklayer and cement finisher. Then he went to work for the State Highway Administration in 1953 and retired from there in June 1982. He started his own business in 1963, “Chaney and Sons Refuse Trash Company” which was a great opportunity for his family. In 1974, the business was sold to Titus Trash Company.
Henry loved to play baseball. He played on the Clarksburg African American baseball team (The Maryland Wildcats). He was one of the best. He played catcher and would dare you to steal any bases on him. From the 1950’s to 1970’s, Henry was a player/coach for the Germantown Giants, and had the opportunity to coach many African-American men from the Montgomery County area. He played for the Yellow Jackets as a catcher for many years. After playing, he coached baseball for years; and even coached some of his children.
Henry was a faithful member and diligent worker at John Wesley United Methodist Church, now Community of Faith United Methodist Church for many years. He used his skills and crafts to support the church and served God with his gifts and talents. He served as an Usher and sang in the Boyds’ Charge United Methodist Men for many years until he relocated to Orlando, in June 2018 with Mary and Kelvin. After relocating to Florida, he attended Orlando World Outreach Church and worshipped also with the House of Bread Ministries online virtual services.
Henry along with other African American U.S. Marines who were stationed at Camp Lejeune, was presented the Congressional Gold Medal on June 28, 2012, the nation’s highest civilian honor, recognizing his military service. Additionally, in the same year, on October 23, he and other Montgomery County World War II Veterans were honored with a Proclamation by County Executive Isiah Leggett and the Montgomery County Council. He was honored with a Proclamation by Jay Zembower, Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners in Seminole County on October 27, 2020. He has received Honorary Membership from Montford Point Marines, Washington DC Chapter, Marine Corps League, Oviedo, FL; and a Certificate of Honor from the American Legion, Post 243.
Henry, was one of America’s oldest WWIl veterans, who lived in Oviedo, FL, where the people of Seminole County loved him. He was honored for the past four years with a drive-by parade for his birthday organized by his family, Oviedo’s American Legion Post 243, Foster Grove community, Friends, Seminole County Elected Officials, police officers, sheriff deputies, firefighters, and Orlando World Outreach Church community. The celebration culminated on Henry’s front lawn where the crowd gathered to wish him the very happiest of birthdays and eat cake.
Henry married his first wife Mae Scott-Chaney in 1941, who departed this life in June 1945. Henry remarried in 1953 to the late Ida Mae Nolan-Chaney, who departed this life in February 2002. Also, three brothers, James, Earl Leonard, and Francis, one daughter, Marilyn Chaney, and four sons, Larry, Robert, Terry, and Bruce Chaney, one grandson, Robert Jr., two daughters-in-law, Kristine and Kim; one son-in-law Ron Herron.
Those left to cherish his precious memories are a devoted and loving sister, Phoebe Dorsey; stepson, Jimmy (Lacreatia); children Delores Taylor, Diane Herron, John (Mary), Chris (Deborah), Earl (Susan), Michael (Significate other Mitra), David (Laurie), Steve (Significate other Suzanne), Mary (Kelvin), Donald (Significate other Colleen); daughter-in-law, Cathy Chaney; 35 grandchildren, 42 great-grandchildren, 12 great-great-grandchildren and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.