Born in San Francisco in 1915, John Francis “Jack” Henning was the child of a dedicated union family. His grandmother was a Teamster, his father a plumber and member of the Association of Catholic Trade Unionists. Over the course of almost 94 years of life, Jack Henning took his union roots far enough to become “one of organized labor’s most greatest leaders,” according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown described Henning as “having the ear of the presidents.”
For a prominent man who counted Cesar Chavez among his friends, Henning lived his life grounded in family and place. When it came time to choose a home, Henning went not to Pacific Heights or Sea Cliff; instead, he bought a four-bedroom colonial home in Westwood Park, a streetcar suburb neighborhood located west of Twin Peaks.
Henning was the second owner of the home, which was built in 1920. Once he got in, he stayed. He and his wife, Betty, raised seven children there, born between 1941 and 1959. When Henning passed, his children (Betty Henning died in 1994) decided to sell the family home. The 2,520 square-foot home, which sits on an almost unheard-of 7,405 square-foot city lot, is listed for $995,000 by Bonnie Spindler of Zephyr Real Estate.
With its wide porch, large yard and sloping lawn, the Westwood home fit Henning more than a Pacific Heights mansion ever would have. Though he served as Undersecretary of Labor under John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson (1962-67) and was named ambassador to New Zealand by Johnson in 1967, Henning never stopped being a blue-collar Catholic kid. His entire life was built around his commitment to workers, from his first job with the Association of Catholic Trade Unionists to his impassioned push to restore the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration in 1988.
Soon a new family will occupy 185 Westwood Drive. Westwood Park will have to adjust to the absence of the Hennings, a neighborhood fixture since before World War II.
185 Westwood Drive
Where: San Francisco
Asking price: $995,000
Property tax: $11,940*
The property: Four-bedroom Westwood Park colonial home on three city lots
Notable: Owned by former Undersecretary of Labor and Ambassador to New Zealand John F. Henning.
Agent: Bonnie Spindler, Zephyr Real Estate, (415) 474-4445