Industrial wizard, government leader and champion of education, Syracuse’s former Mayor Anthony Henninger was also a dedicated philanthropist whose legacy now lives on at the Community Foundation. A native of Toledo, Ohio, Henninger moved to Syracuse with his wife, Susan, in 1922. He had quickly moved up the ranks in manufacturing companies in both Ohio and Indiana before arriving in Syracuse to work at the New Process Gear Corporation.
Henninger started at New Process as a plant manager but was promoted to vice-president and then president, a role that he held for 30 years. He developed the organization from 500 to 3,000 employees and reached an annual production of $38 million by 1954. During his tenure, he was well-loved by his employees and often spoke of the many families who named their sons “Tony” in his honor.
In 1957, after being on the sidelines of politics for many years, Henninger ran for mayor and tirelessly served from 1958-1961. Despite never attending college himself, his dedication to education and the improvement of local school facilities was recognized when the city renamed its Northeast location Henninger High School. According to then City Finance Commissioner, Frank L. Canino, it was the greatest school rehabilitation program that Syracuse had ever seen, costing upwards of $28 million.
He was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree from Syracuse University on April 27, 1951 by Chancellor William P. Tolley, who said he was resourceful, imaginative, energetic and an amazing leader. He supported local sports and athletes, facilitating the return of International Baseball to Syracuse in 1961.
As a dedicated philanthropist, he supported many individual projects, but he eventually decided to leave a sizable bequest to the Community Foundation’s community fund. The Anthony A. & Susan E. Henninger Memorial Fund continues to support causes that Mayor Henninger and his wife cared about so many years ago.