Elwood Hensey, longtime Vegas bellman, remembered by colleagues, family

Elwood Hensey (Courtesy of David Hensey)

On his last night alive, Elwood Hensey was doing what family and friends said he had done his whole life — helping someone out.

“He was an amazing guy and, believe me, a lot of people in this city are going to miss him,” said his partner of 10 years Alicia Jimenez.

A bellman for 38 years at The Linq Hotel, formerly Imperial Palace, Hensey was dedicated to ensuring that those around him were taken care of, friends and family said.

“He took a lot of time out of his day for other people,” said Brian Rafferty, who worked with Hensey for seven years.

Last month, Hensey went out of his way to help a man who left the hotel for Harry Reid International Airport without his bag.

Because Hensey didn’t have a car, he called his son, David Hensey, to give him a ride to the airport and deliver the luggage so the hotel would not be held responsible.

The younger Hensey remembered being annoyed at first about having to leave home to pick up his dad, but said that once his dad got into the car all that went away.

“We were just hanging out,” David Hensey said.

After the bag was delivered, he asked his dad whether he wanted to go home or to a casino, reminding him that Jiminez would want him home.

“I don’t care what that wench thinks,” the son recalled his dad saying sarcastically.

So they headed to The Orleans, where the elder Hensey liked to spend a little of his hard earned money.

A couple hours later, at around 12:30 a.m. on March 17, Elwood Hensey, 60, was fatally struck by a hit-and-run driver at Cameron Street and Harmon Avenue, a few blocks from the casino.

He was walking in a marked crosswalk on the east side of the intersection, headed to his apartment on West Rochelle Avenue, when he was hit by the front of a white 2017 Mercedes Benz C350e. The driver has not been identified, according to Las Vegas police.

Hensey died at the scene.

Jimenez, who also worked at The Linq, had clocked Hensey out when he left for the airport.

She worked a later shift, so they would often meet at a bus stop and walk home together.

But after Jimenez stepped off the bus that night, he wasn’t there.

She walked home, and after texting and calling him without a response, fell asleep. She was awakened by David Hensey who told her what happened.

“From then on it’s just been a roller coaster of emotions,” Jimenez said.

Union advocate

Along with all his duties as a bellman, Hensey volunteered as a union steward at The Linq for Culinary Local 226.

“Any situation, if a supervisor calls you to the office and we have a union we are entitled to say ‘I don’t want to go by myself. I need a steward,” Jimenez said.

She said Hensey hated when management tried to take advantage of workers, but he was not afraid to let workers know if they were out of line.

“He didn’t have to act like he was in charge,” Jimenez said. “He was just himself, with everybody the same way. He treated everybody with respect.”

Hundreds of co-workers, friends and family packed Palm Mortuary-Jones last week to honor the late bellman.

Jimenez said guests included Linq management along with those who worked closely with him.

Rafferty, a fellow bellman, and Hensey sometimes spent time together outside of work, including at Rafferty’s house where he enjoyed his friend’s cooking.

A few years back, when Rafferty needed help with yard work at his new home, he reached out to friends and only heard from Hensey, who showed up at 9 the next morning.

Rafferty said he will miss their long conversations driving home from work. The world would be a better place, he said, if there were “more Elwoods.”

“I think he made everybody’s life a little better,” Rafferty said.

Around The Linq and among friends, Hensey was known by the nickname “Fluffy.”

Jimenez said many did not know the genesis of that name. But she said he once helped a woman with her bags at The Linq and told her it was alright that she didn’t have money to tip him.

The guest went downstairs to ask the clerk at the front desk about the man who helped her, but she couldn’t describe him and did not know his name.

At the time, Hensey wore his hair in an Afro.

“So she went like, ‘the one outside, the one with the fluffy hair,’” Jimenez said.

Jimenez said Hensey was by her side when she lost both her parents. She said the couple’s relationship worked because they both understood the importance of each other’s family. His son moved in with them in 2018.

“I knew for him his son was number one,” Jimenez said.

David Hensey described his dad as his “eating buddy” and said that they particularly enjoyed ribs and finding new places to eat.

The younger Hensey and Jimenez said they’ll miss the elder Hensey’s cooking.

“I can’t remember a time my dad’s ever said ‘I love you,’ but I feel like as a family member I felt like the most love from my dad,” David Hensey said.

Elwood Hensey would make rib eye, ribs and pork for his son, but since Jimenez didn’t eat meat he would make her fish, crab legs and lobster for her using his smoker.

“When he came to tell us ‘I love you’ he had a hard time to say that,” Jimenez said. “So he would say it with cooking. That was his way of telling us he loved us.”

Growing up

Hensey was born in Cherry Point, North Carolina on a military base. His family lived in Beaufort, South Carolina, Atlanta and Chicago before moving to Las Vegas in 1982.

His brother, also named David Hensey, said he’ll miss phone conversations with his “good older brother” where they would just talk, or plan for family gatherings.

Last week, the Henseys and Jimenez’s family gathered at David Hensey’s home for a meal.

“We need to do a better job at staying in touch and maybe having more get togethers without a funeral,” the late Hensey’s brother said.

At the funeral, he enjoyed stories from his brother’s co-workers.

“That says a lot about somebody to be at one place that long,” David Hensey said. “There are a lot of people that look down on certain positions but he was a bellman for 38 years, faithful to the job.”

Contact David Wilson at dwilson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @davidwilson_RJ on Twitter.