50 for 50: Warren Henninger

Published online: Mar 14, 2021 50 for 50, Articles Tyrell Marchant, Editor
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Throughout 2021, as part of Potato Grower’s celebration of our 50th year in publication, we will be honoring in our pages and on our website 50 of the potato industry’s most innovative and influential individuals, companies and organizations over the past half-century. This “50 for 50” series will include researchers, salesmen, packers, processors and, of course, plenty of potato growers. A lot of them will be names you’ve heard before. To some, you’ll get a fresh introduction. Regardless, each has had an outsize impact on the U.S. potato industry, and each deserves our thanks and recognition.

This article appears in the March 2021 issue of Potato Grower.

Warren Henninger was born and raised on a potato farm in eastern Pennsylvania, and always loved working with potatoes. From a young age he helped his father plant, harvest, grade and sell potatoes. After high school, he earned an agronomy degree from Penn State, fully intending to return to the farm. However, his father advised Warren that the “future of potatoes is in the West” and encouraged him to leave the family farm. Warren heeded his dad’s advice and pursued a graduate degree from Oregon State University

It was while at Oregon State the Henninger met his wife Judy, whom he married in 1970 after a two-year courtship. The couple moved to OntarioOre., where he worked as an Extension agent for Malheur County. Over the next 25 years, Warren was employed across the Northwest by Simplot, Carnation and Nestlé in various leadership roles. Warren and Judy welcomed three children and settled in Moses Lake, Wash.

In 1997, Warren and Judy founded Ag World Support Systems, a private, third-party service focused on commodity inspection, sampling and analysis. Like seemingly everything else in his life, Henninger’s company has provided unbiased inspection for a variety of products and helped growers and processors manage their products and relationships. Today, Ag World Support Systems services potato facilities in WashingtonOregonIdahoNorth DakotaWisconsinMaine and Manitoba, and provides consulting services in China.

In 2014, Henninger organized the Ag World Golf Classic. The annual event raises money for Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Inland Northwest, which provides temporary lodging and support for families with critically ill or injured children accessing medical services in Spokane. To date, the Classic has raised over a half-million dollars for those families in need.

Above everything else, Henninger was a loyal and dedicated husband, father, friend and Christian. Every press release or communiqué sent from Ag World concluded with the salute “To God be the glory!”—a message that, to anyone who knows anything about the Henninger family, never feels the least bit cheesy or insincere. 

True to form, after Henninger passed away in May 2020, his memorial service was held at a potato cellar just outside Warden, Wash. The setting was a fittingly simple yet beautiful sendoff for a man whose entire life was dedicated to God, family and potatoes.