Michael R. Hennet

Michael Hennet

Michael Hennet

GUILDERLAND — Michael R. Hennet, known as “The Hammer” for closing deals, was a charismatic salesman who connected with firefighters across the country as he demonstrated safety gear. But he always put his family first.

He died peacefully at his Cherry Lane home on Monday, May 11, 2020, surrounded by his loving family. He was 67.

He was born in Albany, the son of Matthew “Bud” and Helen Grant Hennet, and raised in Guilderland. His mother was the evening shift supervisor for the Guilderland Center Nursing Home and his father was partner and owner of Robinson & Hennet Hardware.

As a youth, Mr. Hennet loved sports, said his sister, Jean Kisby. “He played baseball and football in high school. And he was a volunteer fireman for Westmere,” she said. “He worked alongside my dad at the hardware store.”

“He started working at the hardware store when he was 10,” said his wife, Karen Hennet. He would stock shelves, clean, and paint, and every January, he would help with the inventory, which was done by hand, “counting every single nut and bolt,” said Mrs. Hennet.

Mr. Hennet graduated from Guilderland High School in 1970 and then went on to attend Hudson Valley Community College.

Mrs. Hennet remembers meeting the man who would become her husband when she worked at Ben Becker’s Camp Nassau. “Michael had a twinkle in his eye,” Mrs. Hennet recalled. “He was the nicest, sweetest gentleman you could ever meet.”

The couple married in 1976.

Describing Mr. Hennet as a husband, she said, “He was true blue and faithful, 100 percent family focused.” That family, she explained, included not only herself and their four daughters but also included extended family and the “neighborhood family on Cherry Lane.”

In his mid-twenties, Mr. Hennet took the lead sales position with Douglas Industrial, a fastener supplier in Watervliet. “He then went on to expand his enthusiasm for sales and connecting with people, and founded Advertising Specialties And Promotions Co., which he fondly referred to as A.S.A.P.,” his family wrote in a tribute.

Mr. Hennet also worked for many years as the director of Corporate Picnics at Camp Nassau. When Camp Nassau was sold to the YMCA, he helped with the transition, mentoring the staff, said his wife.

He spent the last 12 years in sales and training with Lion/BullEx, which sells fire-safety equipment. “He was excellent at sales,the patriarch of all the guys,” his wife said. “He could talk with people and connect with people.”

Mr. Hennet worked on the demo team and gave demonstrations of the equipment to firefighters near and far. “He went out to California and up to Canada,” said his wife. “He would connect with the firefighters and train the staff — and he would always close the deal.”

This earned him the nickname “The Hammer.” “He had a true passion for bringing fire-safety training to emergency responders nationwide,” his family wrote.

“He was an avid New York Giants supporter, having served on the committee that brought their training camp to UAlbany. He also was a devoted Yankees fan,” his family wrote. But Mr. Hennet’s central focus was always on his family.

“When we were younger and had four girls — four under the age of 4 — we purchased a Blue Fin boat and would take the four girls out on Lake George in their big orange life jackets, bouncing on the bowrider,” said Mrs. Hennet.

At first the Hennets, often with friends, would camp out. Later, the Hennets bought a cottage on Friends Lake and several of their friends purchased cottages there, too. The Hennets used their cottage in the winter as well as the warmer seasons and the family would ski at nearby Gore Mountain Ski Resort.

“He was the most loving, giving, caring father you could have,” said his daughter, Michele Kennedy. “He was the most selfless man you could ever meet — always putting others before himself.”

She went on to name the many events Mr. Hennet attended for his daughters — ranging from recitals to lacrosse matches, and he coached his daughters at softball, too.

Mrs. Hennet agreed. “He was selfless; he was caring; he was loving and fun-filled.”

Mr. Hennet battled cancer for three years, suffering many fractures but always carrying on, his wife said. When he first got sick, his coworkers held a fundraiser for him with the theme of “Save the ’Stache” as Mr. Hennet was known for his mustache.

Those co-workers will be his pallbearers, Mrs. Hennet said. When Mr. Hennet was brought home, under hospice care, on April 21, his wife said, they lined Cherry Lane and out onto Willow Street to “honk for The Hammer.”
 

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Michael R. Hennet is survived by his beloved wife of 44 years, Karen Brandt Hennet; by his four daughters, Michele Kennedy and her husband, Jason, Alisha Hennet and Bob Burnash, Kristina Hudson and her husband, Tom, and Rachel Hennet; two sisters, Beth Becker and Dan Requate, and Jean Kisby and her husband, James; and his brother, John Hennet and his wife, Lisa; his beloved grandchildren, Andrew, Stella, Eve, Robert “Bud,” and, due on July 4, Benjamin; his niece Lexi Becker and Dmitriy Yukhvid, along with several cousins, step nieces, and nephews.

His parents, Matthew “Bud” and Helen Grant Hennet, died before him as did his son Matthew Robert Hennet.

Funeral services will be private. A celebration of his life will be held at a later date.

Burial will be at Prospect Hill Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Capital District YMCA’s Circle of Champs program, which brings joy to families who have a child with a life-threatening illness. The mailing address is 465 New Karner Rd., Albany, 12205.

— Melissa Hale-Spencer                       ​

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