Mark Henning Memorial Tribute

We share with our community the Mark Henning Memorial Tribute. Mark sadly passed away on the 25th September 2021. An intimate memorial was held at the St Stithians College Chapel on Friday 15 October 2021. We share the service with One and All in acknowledgement of the massive contribution that Mark Henning made to St Stithians College and to education in South Africa. MHDSRIP.


Mark Henning – A Man for all Seasons

Born: 26 March 1934

Deceased 25 September 2021 (aged 87)

Educated at King Edward School for Boys (KES) Mark matriculated in 1950

Mark Henning was a passionate educator, he descended from an education background and worked in education for over 50 years. He was appointed as the third Head of St Stithians Boys’ College in 1969 and remained there until 1988 when he retired.

Leader & Third Head of St Stithians Boys' College

In 1969, Mark came to St Stithians College at a time when the school had experienced internal strife. But in his calm way and with patient discussion of problems, the troubles and difficulties were sorted out in a considerate and dignified manner. He was always unruffled, never impulsive and under his leadership the school began to pull together to find a common purpose.

“A school such as St Stithians does not become a great school overnight or without strong leadership. Over the years Mark Henning, with Sheila always at his side supporting and encouraging, led St Stithians College to a position amongst the great schools of South Africa.” Walter McFarlane.

Mark’s influence in the wider sphere of education grew as rapidly. Over his tenure as headmaster of the College, he also headed the evolving organisation that we know today as ISASA. Under Mark’s leadership the organisation grew from some 60 schools to over 230 by 1998. Mark became one of the spokesmen for the private school movement. His remarkable ability to see the wood from the trees and to analyse the complex environment of the changing times, enabled him to keep the College proactive rather than reactive.

Perhaps Mark’s greatest achievement at St Stithians was the firm stand he took with courage and far-sightedness, together with Council, over admitting boys of other races:

“Over these last five years it has been my pleasure to meet many fine parents of a new generation of St Stithians boys; there are boys of other races, namely African, Indian and Chinese. It has been a refreshing experience for me to get to know well some of these very fine people. We only impoverish ourselves by allowing ourselves to be cut off from other groups in our country. Why do intelligent people want to cut us off from our fellow South Africans? Surely it is because they know only too well that the young people of today have a tolerance and understanding that if given a chance will break down barriers between races and because they cannot change, they keep the young people apart.” Mark Henning

Mark Henning had a close and supportive relationship with parents. At a farewell function in his honour, the Parents’ Association Committee presented Mark and his wife, Sheila, with a superb Keith Calder sculpture of a cheetah. A sculpture that today graces the grassy slopes near the Chapel and which gives its name to the area.

Upon his departure from St Stithians College in 1988 (19 years of Service), he was appointed as National Director of the Independent Schools Council, an organisation with which he had been associated in his professional capacity since the early 1970s. For 12 years after his retirement, Mark produced the quarterly, Independent Education magazine with the intention of providing a voice for ordinary people in schools. He also served on the Hunter Commission appointed by the government to produce a report on the organisation, governance and funding of schools which gave him new insight into the diversity of schooling in SA.

In 1998 he was awarded the Johannesburg College of Education Rector's Gold Medal Award for "his commitment and dedicated service to education, for his professionalism and for the fine example he set to pupils and colleagues". Mark and his father are the only father/son recipients of this award.

Sport and Culture

Mark was a superb cricketer and played cricket for Transvaal from 1957 for approximately 10 years. He was also involved in cricket administration on National level and was Vice-President of the South African Cricket Association during 1977. He served in several positions in Transvaal Cricket for many years.
He was a keen supporter and coach of the St Stithians cricket and rugby teams during his tenure as Head of the school

While at St Stithians he introduced the sport of rowing which was to go on and produce some of South Africa’s top oarsmen.

Mark supported the concept of the all-rounder and provided opportunities for cultural and other extra-mural pursuits. He reported that by 1985 Music, Art, Debating and Drama had moved slowly towards their rightful place in the curriculum at St Stithians, and a fuller school life had emerged.

Husband and Dedicated Family Man

Mark and Sheila were married for 52 years and she was a constant companion by his side. 

Mark and Sheila had three children, Roger (Class of 1979), Peter (Class of 1988) and a daughter Tessa.

Peter is married to Colleen who worked at St Stithians College for 9 years and was Head of Science. In 2005 she moved to St John’s College, where she is now Deputy Head of Academics.

Mark had three grandchildren who matriculated at St Stithians; Tamlyn, Andrew and Craig Hellens.

Please find the Order of Service for Mark Henning's Memorial Serivce 

Mark Henning Memorial Service - 15 October 2021


Condolences and Moments

We invite those who wish to share their condolences or memories to this page to email  These tributes will be shared here as part of the Mark Henning Memorial Tribute page.

I was saddened to hear of Mark's passing. He was a good friend - albeit far from Chicago.
My memories are so vivid - his generous hosting when I visited South Africa and had the pleasure of spending more than a week with him and Shiela.
Attached is the piece I wrote at Candice's request - it is sent with love and fondness for a man who was truly special.  
~ Charlie Jett