Baylor couple gains perspective with art and altitude
By Jessica Babb | Broadcast Managing Editor
Imagine flying an airplane and peering out your window to see the clouds floating beneath you and the sky in front of you painted with a mix of bright oranges and yellows. Better yet, imagine being able to capture the full beauty of the evening sky with paint on a canvas.
David and Priscilla Henry don’t have to imagine. As a couple, they can do those things, and over the years, they have. However, many people might not know that.
The Henrys are typically known on Baylor’s campus for their involvement in Greek life, serving as chapter advisors for both the fraternity Alpha Tau Omega and the sorority Delta Delta Delta.
“The nickname I have is Papa Henry, and that sums up the relationship I have with so many of the students,” David said.
The Henrys act as a second set of parents to many students at Baylor and are always giving back to others.
“Dr. Henry and Priscilla are always there for us. They never hesitate to give a helping hand or a listening ear,” said Sugar Land junior Lauren Sandersen, who is a member of Delta Delta Delta.
However, the Henrys do so much more than just serving the Greek life community.
Decades ago, David faced numerous challenges during high school that made it impossible for him to attend college once he graduated. After being tired of working several seemingly dead-end jobs, he turned his life around to attend Baylor University in hopes of one day attending medical school.
“A couple of years after the end of the high school era, I decided I had to turn things around and become something, I hoped — somebody, I hoped — and someone that mattered. Baylor was a special place to go to get to do that,” David said.
Since they were already married when David attended Baylor for undergrad, Priscilla worked in the Baylor financial aid office to try and make ends meet. A few years later, David made the decision to attend law school and Priscilla then stayed home to raise their children.
“I am also a nurturer, and I take care of people,” Priscilla said. “David always said I was a professional volunteer because I got paid in hugs. I was always doing things and had jobs, but they were not paid.”
Since then, David has become a leading patent attorney, serving as a partner in an influential D.C. law firm representing top medical schools and fortune 50 companies, in addition to also being a professor at Baylor’s Law School. He is also a pilot, owning two airplanes that he uses to meet with clients across the country. In addition, he is a lieutenant colonel in the United States Air Force Auxiliary, serving as a public affairs officer for his unit that flies humanitarian search-and-rescue and disaster relief missions.
David began flying when he needed a practical way to make the commute from the San Antonio law firm where he worked to the Baylor Law school when he accepted a teaching job there in 1994.
“All of a sudden, I had a need for it and it made sense,” David said. “I have flown all over the country, east coast to west coast, Buffalo, N.Y., and even Canada. It’s just cool; you get to see [incredible views] out of the window.”
During this time, Priscilla became an artist, primarily painting scenes from around Waco. The Military Child Education Coalition, a national nonprofit organization serving military kids, commissioned her to design the cover of their program for their national convention. Her artwork has also appeared at the Waco festival, Art on Elm, for the past two years.
“I started painting when my kids were at school,” Priscilla said. “With painting, time passes and I’m not even aware. I just enjoy making the color become something, so I started taking classes, and it has just grown from there.”
In February, Priscilla, who was unable to complete her degree at Baylor, was honored with an Alumni by Choice decree from Ken Starr, the president and chancellor of Baylor University, and the university at large.
“It was very exciting and touching, and it was a proud day for me,” Priscilla said.
However, despite all their accomplishments, both David and Priscilla said they are most proud of how they are able to give back to others.
“They are incredible. They do so much and give so much, and they are really great role models to look up to,” Sandersen said. “They are two people who really give selflessly and are able to live really full lives.”