E.J. Henryson, 83 originator and first director of Group Hospitalization Inc. (GHI), the Blue Cross plan of the Washington area, died of congestive heart failure Thursday in Santa Ana, Calif., where he had lived since retiring here in 1948.
He developed the plan for a voluntary prepayment hospitalization insurance organization here in 1932 and brought it to the attention of the late Joseph H. Himes, a retired financier and businessman.
Mr. Himes in turn assembled other prominent citizens to establish GHI, which opened in July 1934. He was called the spark of the organization and Mr. Henryson was known as the driving force that made it grow into one of the largest such insurance groups in the nation.
Starting as temporary secretary of GHI, Mr. Henryson soon became its director, a position he held until retiring. He saw it grow from an initial 644 subscribers to hundreds of thousands of enrollees.
During his tenure, he was a member of the advisory committee of the American Hospital Association and a founder of the National Conference of Group Hospitalization. He also assisted members of the Medical Service of D.C., the Blue Shield plan of the Washington area.
Mr. Henryson came to Washington in 1931 as the first paid executive of the Health Council, then a section of the Council of Social Agencies of Washington and now part of the Hospital Council of the National Capital Area.
He was born in Story City, Lowa, attended Luther College in Decorah, Lowa, and graduated from the Minnesota College of Law in Minneapolis. He served in the personnel office of the medical department of the American Expeditionary Force in France in World War I.
Later he helped organize Minnesota's Public Health Assocation, was editor of the Minnesota Health Journal, and operated a service bureau that published health literature for state and local health boards.
He is survived by his wife, Helen Elizabeth, of the home in Santa Ana; a daughter, Patricia Johnstone, of Santa Clara, Calif.; two sons, Dr. Robert, of Whittier, Calif., and David, of Wheeler, Ore., and six grandchildren.