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Somers' Werner Hengst, Montessori School Co-Founder, Dies At 79

Werner Hengst
Werner Hengst Photo Credit: Contributed

SOMERS, N.Y. -- Somers resident Werner Hengst -- who with his wife co-founded Our Montessori School in Yorktown Heights and was its administrator -- died on Sunday, Feb. 7. He was 79.

Born in Germany, Hengst's father worked on the rocket program with Wernher von Braun, which brought the family to Cape Canaveral, Florida in 1952. Hengst attended the University of Florida, where he met his wife. When they married in 1963, they took a three-month honeymoon around the world.

He worked at a missile tracking station on Ascension Island, for Pan American in Cape Canaveral, as a systems analyst for TRW in Washington, D.C., and then was hired by IBM as a manager in White Plains. Hengst and his wife started Our Montessori School in 1972, and in 1986 he took early retirement from IBM in order to devote his energy full time to the school.

An avid hiker and sailor, he could often be found on his Hobie Cat on the Hudson or hiking the trails in the mountains along the river. He recently turned toward writing, and his memoirs, "From Peenem├╝nde to Cape Canaveral, and Beyond" is due to be published and released on Amazon soon.

Hengst is survived by his wife of over 50 years, Betty; daughter Christy and son-in-law Helmut; grandchildren Oliver and Eliza of Santa Fe, New Mexico; sister-in-law and brother-in-law Fran and Tom Patterson; nephew Thomas Ira Patterson; great-nephew Derek Patterson; and great-great-niece Paisley Patterson of Atlanta.

He was predeceased by his parents, Gerhard and Emma Hengst.

A memorial service will be held from 1-4 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 13, at the Overlook Lodge, 55 Hessian Dr., Highland Falls, in Bear Mountain State Park. A 45-minute memorial will be followed by buffet lunch. RSVP to

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the United Latin American Pentecostal Church, 110 Main St. Brewster, NY 10589.

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