Milton Dale Henson, 85; real estate pioneer had eye for growth

Dale Henson was known as the backbone of Atlanta’s apartment industry for the past 30 years and had a knack for predicting what developments would work and what wouldn’t, and he wasn’t afraid to be up front with his clients.

“The main thing to know is that he’s very straight forward,” said Sean Mckenzie, an employee of Dale Henson and Associates. “He was very much into smart growth. The numbers were there, he just didn’t let emotion or hopes cloud his perception of them. He was a very much stick-to-the-numbers type of guy.”

Milton Dale Henson, 85, died Oct. 30 in his home from cancer. H.M. Patterson and Son, Spring Hill Chapel will be handling arrangements as well as cremation services. A private service was held Sunday, and a memorial gathering will be held Thursday, Nov. 14 from 4-6 p.m. at H.M. Patterson and Son, Spring Hill Chapel. A private grave-side burial is scheduled for later this year.

Henson was CEO of Dale Henson and Associates, Inc., which opened in 1973, and Mckenzie said the company does feasibility analysis for clients in order to see if a certain development is fit to succeed.

“When developers wanted to build new apartments, we’re essentially the voice of reason between the bank and the developer,” Mckenzie said. “We’re the impartial third party.”

Henson studied the Atlanta apartment industry for nearly 20 years and believed the market for people who wanted to live close to where they work wasn’t confined to downtown, but also in the suburbs where individuals were looking for low maintenance, live-work-play communities.

After serving in theIntelligence Division of the Army Security Agency decoding enemy messages during the Korean War, he returned to Atlanta and earned bachelors and master’s degrees in industrial management from Georgia Tech.

Henson’s wife, Anna, said the analytical skills he used during the Korean War, as well as a knack for detailed research and analytical processes, were the same skills he utilized to start his company and help clients make real estate decisions.

“I think he felt that we grow by striving to do better than our best,” Henson said.

Director of Development for Atlantic Realty Ben Curran said he would often ask Henson for advice in the Market and that Henson wasn’t afraid to tell his opinion.

“He started a company that essentially tracked the development in Atlanta from the early 1970’s,” Curran said. “As developers, we need to know where supply and demand is favorable or unfavorable, and Dale could tell you ‘don’t go build over there because that’s not going to be a good market for a while.’”

Henson researched the civil war and had an extensive collection of photographs of important places during the civil war, Curran said.

Real estate broker Bob Nagel has known Henson for more than 30 years and said Henson helped many metro Atlanta developers over the years.

“Dale came in and started the apartment analysis in greater Atlanta and other cities in the Southeast U.S. and was the foundation for the apartment growth in metro Atlanta,” Nagel said.

In addition to his wife, Henson is survived by his daughter, Cathy Dayle Henson of Asheville, N.C.; his sons, Alexander Loring Dale Henson of Atlanta and Kyle Scott Henson of Williamson; his daughter-in-law, Beth Morehouse Henson of Williamson; his sisters, Monza Henson Wilson of Ozark, Ala. and Lazanda Henson of Atalla, Ala.; his brother, Aaron Gerome Henson of Natchitoches, La.; and his grandson.

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