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Correction to This Article
An earlier version of this story incorrectly named the school where Mary de Sales McNabb taught. She taught at Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School.

Lyn Hendry, noted Walt Whitman High teacher, dies at 89

Lyn Hendry received a rare honorary doctorate from Georgetown University in 1979 while teaching social studies at Whitman High.
Lyn Hendry received a rare honorary doctorate from Georgetown University in 1979 while teaching social studies at Whitman High.

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By Adam Bernstein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 18, 2010; 9:03 PM

Lyn Hendry, 89, whose teaching career spanned four decades and two continents and who as a high school teacher in Montgomery County received a rare honorary doctorate from Georgetown University for her classroom excellence, died Oct. 13 at a retirement community on Maryland's Eastern Shore. She had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Mrs. Hendry, the daughter of a Stanford University economics professor, taught in China, Vietnam and what is now Bangladesh before settling in the Washington area in 1966. She was teaching social studies at Bethesda's Walt Whitman High School when she was honored by Georgetown in 1979 with an honorary doctor of humane letters.

She was one of two secondary school teachers to receive the degree that year. The other was Sister Mary de Sales McNabb of Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School.

Georgetown Visitation and Walt Whitman sent a significant number of students to Georgetown University each year, and the university president at the time, Timothy Healy, said that Mrs. Hendry and McNabb deserved the degree for preparing so many students for the university's curriculum. Dozens of Whitman and Georgetown Visitation alumni were polled for the decision on who had been their most influential teachers.

The teachers received honorary degrees at the university's commencement ceremony along with former Boston Celtics basketball star Bill Russell, Nobel Prize-winning physicist John Bardeen and Washington Post editorial page editor Meg Greenfield.

Mrs. Hendry said her main areas of teaching were the economics of developing nations and advanced European history. She told The Post that her working day began at 5:30 and ended about 12 hours later and that she was sure to take time to keep abreast of world affairs.

"I don't know any teacher who does a good job who does it any differently," she said. "I'm trying to have the students develop some kind of understanding of the world they inhabit and how it got that way."

Grace Estalyn Kreps was born in Boulder, Colo., and grew up mostly in Palo Alto, Calif. She graduated from Stanford University in 1941. She received a teaching certificate from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1942 and a master's degree in education from Michigan State University in 1960.

She began her teaching career in California but felt her prospects diminish after World War II, when a surge of returning veterans went back to their old jobs in the school system. Through an apartment mate, whose father had been a missionary in China, she found work teaching at the American School in what was then Peking.

In China, she met her future husband, James Hendry, who was working for Standard Oil. They married in 1948 and left the next year, after the communist takeover. She later accompanied her husband on his assignments as economic and development adviser to Saigon and what was then Dacca, East Pakistan. She continued working as a teacher and school administrator, at one point coaching boy's basketball in Dacca.

She settled in the Washington area in 1966 for her husband's World Bank job and taught at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville before joining the Whitman faculty in 1970. She retired in 1986, having been involved on the faculty council and other educational committees.

About 20 years ago, she moved from Bethesda to Heron Point retirement community in Chestertown, Md.

In addition to her husband, of Chestertown, survivors include three daughters, Nancy Hendry and Susan Manley, both of Bethesda, and Khati Hendry of Summerland, B.C.; two brothers; two sisters; and five grandchildren.

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