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Kalen Delaney

RIP: Ken Henderson, 1967 - 2008

This is a very difficult post to write, much as it is difficult to really accept that someone in the prime of his life, with young children who needed him, who is far younger than I am, could just die. It just doesn't seem right, but as we know, right and wrong rarely determines who lives and who dies.

Ken was an inspirational author of the SQL Server Guru's Guide series of books, and a fascinating speaker at TechEd and SQL Server conferences. I learned things from his first SQL Server book (The Guru's Guide to Transact-SQL) that I had been unable to get the details about anywhere else.

Ken passed away on Sunday, January 27, in Meeker,  Oklahoma.

Ken's next to last blog post talked about our last meeting together. What he doesn't mention is that we talked about a way we could start working together, and I was very much looking forward to that. I may be able to do some of the same work without him, but it won't be the same.

I will miss him.

Published Tuesday, January 29, 2008 9:43 PM by Kalen Delaney

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ktegels said:

Amazingly sad. Ken something rare -- a brilliant man yet very humble. Straight-forward yet a master of complexity.

Our world is that much smaller tonight.Amazingly sad. Ken something rare -- a brilliant man yet very humble. Straight-forward yet a master of complexity.

Our world is that much smaller tonight.

January 30, 2008 2:19 AM

rwkim said:

i've only been a consumer of his knowledge (books, pass conferences, etc), but his down to earth nature and ability to be approached will be missed.

January 30, 2008 9:58 AM

SDC said:

That's terrible news.  I really learned a lot from his books, particularly his Guide to Transact-SQL.  People who know so much and communicate it so well are really rare and valuable.  He will be missed.

January 30, 2008 11:08 AM

Ben Aminnia said:

I met Ken during a 3 day conference in L.A. at our user group.  He will be dearly missed.  Ben Aminnia

January 30, 2008 11:09 AM

Rob Schoenborn said:

Ken and Ken's books have been a major help to me.  I met him in 2005, and he was very helpful to me in my career development.  He will be greatly missed!

January 30, 2008 12:08 PM

SQLDiva said:

Why is it that the really awesome people die so young?  It seems so unfair.  

I’ve read many of Ken’s “Gurus Guide to SQL” books and spent many hours, sometimes even years reading and re-reading them.  

Many of us hope to leave a ‘mark’ on this earth and through his many books; I believe that Ken has successfully done this.  

Ken Henderson will truly be missed in the SQL Server Community.  

Melissa Demsak

January 30, 2008 3:29 PM

Percy Reyes said:

I am so sad and really wildly by this news, bearing in mind that I was one of its more faithful followers, I have read almost all their input both in books and articles. All their contributions seem to me excellent, and will remain from generation to generation. It really is a bad news for all of us SQLGeeks, of truth that is to weep, I feel I lost a God :'(.

My sincere condolences to his family and closest friends, we was a God in SQL Server... nooooooo!!!!:' (.

Ken always remember you!!!!.


January 30, 2008 8:33 PM

Kun Lee said:

I am speeachless...

January 31, 2008 10:33 AM

James Luetkehoelter said:

The thing that makes me sadest about this is that this is a person with a family that passed away long before he should have. As much as I appreciate his contributions, I've found I have had to move his books off my shelves as they remind me of those left behind. My thoughts go out to them...

January 31, 2008 12:14 PM

Jeff yao said:

How I wish this was not true at all... what a loss to SQL Server community !

January 31, 2008 1:29 PM

Doug Steinschneider said:

Ken's Guru's guides were a huge help for my work (as have been Karen's Inside SQL Server books). I loved that he used music in his examples which prompted to me checkout where I discovered we shared a similar musical background. His death is a tragic loss, my condolences to his family.

January 31, 2008 5:13 PM

Lee Everest said:

Ken was the best. We'll all miss him. He made everyone feel important, everyone's questions special, and always took the time to help out a fellow SQL Server DBA.

This is tragic news - my condolences and prayers to his family and five children, may they be comforted by the Holy Spirit in this time of trouble.

February 1, 2008 12:00 AM

Phil Factor said:

I never met Ken, though I always wanted to, because his humour and personality spilled out from every paragraph of his books. Through reading his work, I began to feel great admiration, and fondness for the man. Ken changed the way that we write about technology.

   There are waters blown by changing winds to laughter

   And lit by the rich skies, all day. And after,

   Frost, with a gesture, stays the the waves that dance

   And wandering loveliness. He leaves a white

   Unbroken glory, a gathered radiance,

   A width, a shining peace, under the night.

(Rupert Brooke)

February 2, 2008 7:35 AM

AaronBertrand said:

I have met Ken and spoken with him multiple times; I even helped with one of his more recent books.  He was a fantastic human being, and will be missed horribly.  My condolences go out to everyone affected by this tragedy.

February 3, 2008 12:08 PM

Shelly Fazio said:

I am Ken's little sister, thank you so much for all the comforting comments.  I would to share any stories you might have about my brother.  

February 7, 2008 8:03 PM

Trisha Henderson said:

Hello, I am Ken's youngest sister.  May God bless each of you for your kind words about my brother..  It brings joy to my troubled soul to hear all of the wonderful things you have said about him.  Please feel free to contact me to share stories about him.  We miss him so much....  The tragedy of his death is overwhelming our family right now..  Kenny (as we called him) would have been so proud to know that his professional family spoke so highly of him.  

Thank you..

February 8, 2008 12:42 AM

Trisha Henderson said:

My e-mail address is

February 8, 2008 1:02 AM

Kalen Delaney said:

Some of you might not go back and reread follow-up comments after you have commented on a blog post,

February 8, 2008 10:45 AM

Anna Dillon (Ken's sister) said:

Thank you.  Although, we did not understand Ken's work at Microsoft we knew this small town boy from Pink, Oklahoma had made it big and was a success.  We were always extremely proud of our big brother.  He was one of a kind.   Thank you for all the opportunities you provided at Microsoft and the friendships you shared with our brother.   We are devastated by his untimely death.  Your words have been comforting.  I know your kindness would have been greatly appreciated by Ken.

February 8, 2008 12:02 PM

Ward Pond said:

February 24, 2008 7:54 PM

My two cents said:

Yesterday I attended the SQL Server focused conference called SQLBits , which this year took place in

March 2, 2008 4:49 PM

davron said:

strange the moment I needed him googled him I learned that he no more with us

He was able open and to show new horizonts in data dataming

He told us that pattern programming could be used in database programming

November 17, 2008 4:25 PM

Gabriel Lajma said:

Just tried to Google for Kens insight and knowledge on SQL Server 2008 and have just learned Ken is no longer with us.

Condolences to his family and friends. Not only was Kena  brilliant and a great professional, but also I have learned we was a GREAT person and HUMAN BEING.

He will be missed by many many people.



November 25, 2008 6:58 AM

Neil Coy said:

Why is it that I still find myself wanting to pick up the phone and call Ken?

I hired Ken for Hudson Foods back when we were all working from command lines.  We had many debates about dbase vs. turbo pascal.  Ken came to look on me as a mentor but I don't need to tell you that very shortly the student overtook the mentor and left him in the dust.  I have all of his books and am very proud to have been mentioned in his dedications.

I knew at the time of his death that he would be greatly missed but I had no idea that would go on for so long.

May 7, 2009 12:31 PM

Dan Ryan said:

A little late to the dance as I had no idea... I just checked online to see if the 'Guru...' series had an update or new version and found your blog.  I'm a developer and only write sql when I have to, so I commonly use the 'Guru...' books.  The best sql reference I have seen or used.  I never met Ken; however, he will be missed.  Rest in peace and God bless his family... -Dan

December 17, 2009 10:27 AM

Trisha Henderson (Tuck) said:

I am Ken's little sister.  You all knew him as Ken..  I knew him as Kenny.  Thank you all so much for blogging about my brother.  He would have been humbly honored by your kind words.  Kenny and I were a lot alike; complicated-but thankful, happy- but followed by a never ending "dark cloud."  I've read these words over and over again wishing I could change the last things I said to my brother; wishing I could have taken the "dark cloud" away..  I started trying to write a book for him last year.  Trying to write down the answer to the one problem he could not solve.  I hope I can finish it someday.  I know he would have been with us longer if he could have answered those lingering questions that kept him up at night.  The same questions that keep me up at night... The night before my big brother died he said, "I'm not totally sure that I'm right" as we spoke about that one lingering question he'd struggled with for so long.  That was the first and only time I ever heard him utter those words- "I'm not totally sure that I'm right..."  Kenny gave me my first bible, my second bible and a mirror image of myself in his death.  A mirror image of what could become of me too, if I were to get lost in the "dark cloud."  All three are gifts I will treasure for the remainder of my life.  I just hope I can earn what he gave me and I pray that his children are able see through the dark clouds of their own lives; to the rainbow that comes in all her glory after the storm..  His light shines in each of them..  I just hope they can see it as they walk though the storms of life without him..

Kids, if you ever read this, we will never stop loving you.  I pray for each of you everyday; that you may see in yourselves what your Dad could never see standing in front of a mirror.  Your light is beautiful, just like your Dad's was, please don't let the heavy storms of life put your light out..

Again, thank you all for remembering..  

Trish Henderson (recently married December 10, 2009: Trisha Tuck)

RIP Kenny..  I love you.

February 3, 2010 1:41 AM

Just found out said:

How did he die? What happened?

April 15, 2010 2:55 PM

The Prophet said:

The party is on the other side. I'm sure that if he's half the guy you all say he is, then where ever he is, he's doing just fine. Don't fear death - it's a doorway that we will all go through one day.

May 24, 2010 2:32 AM


Such a brilliant, generous man, taken so young. I am so sorry. I had a correspondence with Ken shortly after the Guru's guide came out and found him to be a wonderfully generous and sweet guy. I was searching for him today to ask his advice on a thorny SQL question and found this. My comdolences, late as they are, are heartfelt. R.I.P. Mr. Henderson.

July 22, 2010 5:11 PM

ibrahim YILMAZ said:

i read their books. he was generous man and gugu of programming and advising . we need him now. My condolences go out to his family, friends, and coworkers.

August 7, 2010 7:19 PM

Richard101 said:

NO. I can't believe it. I read "The Guru's guide to Transact SQL", and moved from Windows-Support to DBA/developer. It's the best technical book I've ever read.

During my first years as a dba/developer (and often since) whenever I hit a brick-wall, Ken had already been-there and sorted-it. An amazing book.

I never met Ken, but his genius changed my life for the better. My deapest condolences to his family.

November 11, 2010 9:35 AM

Trisha Tuck (Henderson) Ken's little sister said:

Thanks again for all of your Praying Hands..

We'll never stop missing you Kenny..

The “Praying Hands” are much, much more

than just a work of art,

They are the “soul’s creations”

of a deeply thankful heart.

They are a Priceless Masterpiece

that love alone could paint,

And they reveal the selflessness

of an unheralded saint

These hands so scarred and toilworn,

tell the story of a man

Who sacrificed his talent

in accordance with God’s Plan

For in God’s Plan are many things

man cannot understand,

But we must trust God’s judgement

and be guided by His Hand -

Sometime He asks us to give up

our dreams of happiness,

Sometimes we must forego our hopes

of fortune and success -

Not all of us can triumph

or rise to heights of fame,

And many times What Should Be Ours,

goes to another Name -

But he who makes a sacrifice,

so another may succeed,

Is indeed a true disciple

of our blessed Savior’s creed -

For when we “give ourselves away”

in sacrifice and love,

We are “laying up rich treasures”

in God’s kingdom up above -

And hidden in gnarled, toilworn hands

in the truest Art of Living,

Achieved alone by those who’ve learned

the “Victory of Giving”

For any sacrifice on earth,

made in the dear Lord’s name

Assures the giver of a place

in Heaven’s Hall of Fame.

And who can say with certainty

Where the Greatest Talent Lies,

Or Who Will Be the Greatest

In Our Heavenly Father’s Eyes!

Helen Steiner Rice

(1900 – 1981)

January 27, 2011 6:53 PM

Mike17 said:

What was the cause of death for a man so young?

May 1, 2011 10:34 AM

Emily said:

I am Ken's (it's wierd to refer to him as that) daughter. I knew my dad wrote books and worked at Microsoft, I never really understood exactly what he was working on. All I knew was he worked really hard. When I was in 2nd grade my dad took me to Orlando, Florida where he made a speech. It was just me and him, and honestly it was the best time of my life. I remember watching the fireworks at night at Disneyworld on his shoulders. I still have the pink hat with mouse ears, and the Disney Halloween bedtime stories book. My dad was complicated, I knew that. I thought we were alot alike. I have a natural abiblity to write, and he always encouraged me to be a writer. When I write I sort of feel one with him, Like he's with me again. I remember how he used to call me Punky Button Nose. I don't think he ever called me my real name. I remember the song he made up for me, and how he would put his hand out and I would put one finger on it and twirl under it like a ballerina. I thought 3 years after I lost him I would forget his face and his voice, but I haven't. I also thought I would forget his side of the family's faces. I haven't. I sometimes think about being at my Grandma R's house eating the amazing pies she makes, with all my family there probably watching the Sooners play. I miss him and all of my relatives that I wish we could have big family dinners with.

June 6, 2011 7:21 PM

Joe Vorlicky said:

I'm not far down the SQL path... always struggled to find a good book. I came across Gurus Guide only within the last few days, and was immediately struck by the clarity and simplicity of Ken's writing. Honestly, the best tehnical book I ever laid my hands on. A late "THANK YOU KEN". He lives on in the minds of many a person.

September 11, 2011 6:11 PM

Vladimir Yedynak said:

The books of Mr Ken Henderson helped me greatly to become a database programmer. Through his books I will always feel that he is my teacher in programming.

June 15, 2012 4:37 PM

Alex C said:

I was looking up Ken's amazing SQL Soundex replacement code when I came across this article. I'm heartbroken. He was not only a great programmer and SQL guru, but also a very generous person. Years ago, I contacted him about his code and he sent me a free copy of his book. He then provided help on implementing the code as well. Not a lot of other folks would do that. This was at a time when I was working at a public university with little to no resources; so his help was invaluable in building a very cool web app. He touched the lives of so many people, people who never met him, but still were affected by him. May he rest in peace.

June 21, 2012 1:49 AM

Atchuthan Kathirithamby said:

I was searching on the Internet if there is any latest books on SQL server 2008 from Ken, my Guru for SQL server and the found the terrible news. I am very shocked to hear that Ken is no longer with us. It is very sad to hear his sudden death. It is a great loss for all people like me working with SQL server. He inspired me to learn beyond the basics.He is greatly missed.

My heartfelt condolences to hia family.

February 5, 2013 4:53 AM

Peter said:

This morning I ran across a name matching problem that compelled me to revisit Ken's soundex sql script. Searching the internet to see if he had made any tweaks to it, I have instead stumbled upon the announcement of his passing from a few years ago. Indeed, like everyone else, I am saddened by the news. I only knew of Ken as the author of two amazing books that I first purchased when learning sql.

The postings shared by others, especially from Ken's family, are quite touching. They offer a chance for the rest of us to know Ken as a person, not just an author.

Emily -- your post from June 6, 2011 about your dad is so very heartwarming. It inspires me to ensure that I be best father I can be to my own children. To build lasting, fulfilling memories, that they too can hold dear. Thank you to you and your family for sharing.

God Bless

March 12, 2013 9:58 AM

stacie said:

I would love to talk to someone in his family.

January 24, 2014 4:06 PM

brahma said:

He was real SQL Server GURU. I am so impressed with his books. God bless his family.

May 5, 2014 3:34 PM

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