It's only appropriate that we introduce our deputy picture editor, Barbara Henckel, the same week we cover the Avon tennis championships (page 63). Henckel is the granddaughter of Hazel Hotchkiss Wightman, who won 44 national tennis titles, donated the Wight-man Cup and was playing tennis until her death in 1974 at age 87.
"We grandchildren—there are 13 of us—thought of her just as our grandmother," says Henckel. "She lived a block from the Longwood Cricket Club in Boston, and she wouldn't let us into the wonderful pool there until we'd hit a few balls off the backboard. She was great at all games—woe to the person she lured down to the Ping-Pong room—and she urged on all her grandchildren and even those of her 11 great-grandchildren who were old enough to hold a racket or a paddle. She kept in touch with all of us by sending us postcards that she wrote while her car was stopped at red lights. For many years she designed a calendar with the pictures of her five children and their families on it. She had terrific determination and spunk."
As does her granddaughter, who wears a gold bracelet given her grandmother for winning the 1906 California championship. Encouraged by a swimming coach at age 14, Henckel competed in meets in New Jersey, Connecticut and New York for the Yonkers. N.Y. YWCA in the backstroke, butterfly and individual medley and has a boxful of medals to prove it. "I love anything to do with the water," says Henckel, who still swims up to half a mile a day at the St. Bartholomew pool in New York City and "endlessly" during summers at her parents' home in Niantic, Conn. She keeps her 18½-foot Cape Dory Alberg Typhoon sailboat at Niantic so that when she's not in the water she can be on it.
Henckel has rarely been far from sports—water or otherwise. Her first job after graduating from the Westchester Business School was as a secretary to the president of NBC-TV News; it brought her into contact with all manner of public figures. "Whoever was in the news," she says. Following that, Henckel spent six months in Hawaii catching up on swimming and sailing before coming to work for SI in 1968 as a reader-service correspondent. Four years later she joined our picture department, where she was in turn a Girl Friday, a researcher and an editor. Her specialty was the Olympics—both summer and winter. It's a high-pressure assignment that for two weeks at a stretch requires handling a nonstop flow of pictures on a variety of sports. It was good training for higher ground. As deputy picture editor, Henckel supervises the making of assignments, handles the budget, evaluates portfolios, assists Picture Editor John Dominis in editing—she has retained tennis as her special province—and, presumably, turns out the office lights at night.
HENCKEL: CARRYING ON IN HER GRANDMOTHER'S TRADITION