Robert “Bob” Henline
Bob Henline recently posted on his Facebook page that he'd just received the best inadvertent compliment of his career: "Ya know, Bob, we didn't have corruption here before you came to town." Meaning, of course, that no one knew about it before Bob uncovered it. That's what he did. He was an uncompromising journalist who spent his life raking the muck, rousing the rabble and fighting one good fight after another. He also officiated quite a few weddings, including the first legal samesex marriage in the State of Utah, as well as his own daughter's and sister-in-law's. And he learned to smoke a mean brisket and enjoyed a lot of good cigars along the way.
Born in Murray, UT, Bob graduated from Bingham High School in 1988 and went on to study political science, philosophy and history at Boston University, followed by graduate work in public administration at Georgetown University.
Fresh out of college, he honed his writing skills under the red editorial pen of George Stephanopoulos while working for Bill Clinton's presidential campaign. He later poured those skills into a book, Constitutional Inequality, which was written in support of the Electoral Fairness Project, a grass-roots campaign dedicated to abolishing the flawed electoral college in favor of a national popular vote.
A chance phone call led him to a columnist's gig at Q Salt Lake magazine, where he became a tireless advocate for LGBTQ+ rights. During his five years at Q, he rose to become assistant editor, won two "Fabby" reader-choice awards for Best Columnist and was instrumental in the fight to legalize same-sex marriage in Utah. When the Supreme Court handed down its landmark decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, Bob was ready with ordination in hand and performed his first wedding before the end of the day. In recognition of his efforts, Q named him "Utah's Bulldog for the LGBT Community," which he frequently said was his greatest achievement.
Around this same time, a friend from high school, Melissa Paul, got in touch through social media. The stars aligned for them, and they married on June 15, 2011.
Journalism is a hard mistress to quit, though, and Bob soon found himself slinging ink for a paper again as the editor of The Cordell Beacon in Cordell, OK, where he was honored by the Oklahoma Press Association for his writing, editing, in-depth reporting and photography.
As satisfying as the work and all the accolades were, though, Bob took his greatest pleasures in more simple things: his family and friends, good food, good scotch and a cigar on the deck at sunset. He loved smoking and grilling meats and making his own homebrew beer. He loved roughhousing with his boys and being a grandfather to "baby dude" Axton and Xavier. He loved Melissa. And of course he loved a good argument.
Bob the bulldog, the fearless protector of those he loved and the dauntless crusader wherever he saw injustice or inequality, died while traveling home to Oklahoma following a visit to family and friends in Utah. He was just 50 years old.
Preceded in death by his niece Aimee Henline, he is survived by his brother Ken Henline; his wife Melissa Henline; children Aidyn Henline, Ethan Henline, Ariana Bronson (Riley), Anthony Bronson, Philicia Sorensen (Teo); grandchildren Axton and Xavier; and much family and many friends that will miss him dearly.
The world could have used him for much longer than it had him.