Henry Lee Dabney was born December 23, 1928, to Arthur and Nannie Dabney in Clarksville, Tennessee, and was the third of seven children and the first son. When the family moved to Indianapolis, Henry was just two-years-old and, at a very young age became a budding entrepreneur. He enjoyed telling stories of selling papers and firewood, cleaning ashes, collecting bottles and cans to sell, and always finding ways to earn money to help not just himself, but his family.
Henry was a proud member of the Crispus Attucks High School Class of 1947 and an active Alumnus until his health began to limit some of his activities. His green and gold shirt and hat were among his proudest possessions. At Attucks he found football, lifelong friendships and his future wife, Carolyn Bell. Henry and Carolyn married young and had four children. The marriage ended but the friendship lasted until her death earlier this year.
Henry retired from Eli Lilly and Company in 1985 and credits Lilly for giving him the idea to start his own carpet cleaning business. The business was his biggest entrepreneurial pursuit, and it became highly successful. His business continued to grow until he was finally persuaded to sell it in 2013. Even in retirement, he often found small new ventures and, as recently as two weeks before his passing, talked about purchasing a pickup truck to start another business.
As his body grew older, his spirit was forever young. His charm, optimism and work-ethic were among his greatest qualities; but what he was most proud of was his strong, loving, and loyal relationships. His membership in the El Camino men’s club was a source lifelong friendships and great enjoyment. He referred to the book “The Neighborhood of Saturdays“ as ‘his book’ because it was about his generation growing up in the close-knit Southside neighborhood of Blacks and Jews. He was proud of his many successful peers who came from his club and neighborhood and the deep relationships that lasted a lifetime.
South Calvary Baptist Church was his anchor and an extension of his deep connection to the Southside and forever friends. He was a member for more than 80 years and served as a deacon and in any way where he could make a difference. He regarded the entire congregation as family and the feeling seemed mutual. His heart was full of love, his charm was overflowing and his presence commanded attention. He has left a big space in the universe and a deep impression on his loved ones.
Henry worked hard, loved his family, and grew daily in his faith. He left this life on December 13, just ten days before his 92nd birthday. He was preceded in death by his parents, and sisters Dorothy Spurlock and Marjorie Richardson.
He is survived by his children: Marsha Jo Dabney and Michael (Angela) Dabney of Indianapolis; Patricia (Nate) Hartley of Portland, Oregon; and David (Julie) Dabney of Indianapolis; bonus sons: Eric (Veronica) Foote, of Indianapolis and Clarence (Linda) Foote of Idlewild, Michigan; 12 grandchildren and an expanding flock of great-grandchildren. He also leaves brothers Arthur, Jr., of Indianapolis and Dennis (Lenda) of Dallas, Texas; and sisters, Cora Bernice “Niecy” Newby of Ft. Worth, Texas and Sharron Brandon of Indianapolis, and a host of nieces, nephews, relatives, and friends. They were all very dear to him.
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