Henry House, former dean of students and faculty emeritus, died Nov. 17 at the age of 87. House began his career at Cal Poly Pomona in 1947 when he was hired as a special assistant to President Julian McPhee. During his 36-year tenure, he served as a faculty member and administrator, including 18 years as dean of students.
The founding project advisor for the Rose Float program, which began in the fall of 1948, House provided stability and continuity in the early years when just a handful of students were involved. In 1997, he was awarded the Rose Float Alumni Honorary Life Award for his exemplary service to the program.
“If it weren’t for Henry House, the program wouldn’t have survived,” said Ron Simons, associate vice president for University Advancement, 1964 College of Agriculture alumnus and former Rose Float chair and co-chair. “He was the continuity and glue that helped it survive. He wouldn’t ask you to do anything that he wouldn’t do himself. He was a participatory administrator, working with the students side by side, washing windows and digging holes.
“Needless to say, he was a phenomenal icon. If it hadn’t been for him, we wouldn’t have a Rose Float today.”
Jean Dunn, a 1974 business administration alumna, said House was a teacher, mentor and friend. “I’m not sure I ever told him what an important person he was in my life,” she said. “Without him, I would not have graduated and never accomplished what I have. I will miss him!”
House was a staunch supporter of “Robert’s Rules of Order,” a manual on parliamentary procedures, and taught a class about proper behavior. He believed in respecting people’s rights and honoring property, and he treasured the Cal Poly Pomona campus as a special gift from W.K. Kellogg. It wasn’t unusual to see him picking up trash as he walked around campus.
House received his bachelor’s degree in agricultural science in 1943 from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. After graduation, he joined the U.S. Marines and served in the South Pacific through the end of World War II.
He is survived by his wife Bette; brothers Gilbert and Ray; sister Margaret; son Bob; daughters Nanci, Vernie and Becky; three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. The family is not planning services at this time.
The university has started a Henry House Memorial Fund for donations in his memory. Checks should be made out to “Cal Poly Pomona Foundation – Henry House Memorial Fund” and sent to the attention of Ron Simons, University Advancement, 3801 West Temple Avenue, Pomona, California 91768. For questions, contact Simons at (909) 869-4996.