In memoriam: Hank and his friends

Sandrine Ageorges-Skinner: “To Hank, friendship and love were the two essential components of his life and his greatest source of happiness.”

First I would like to send a message to his friends on the row as Hank often talked or wrote about them. In fact, during our visits last month, he mentioned them more than once, saying he was thinking of them and missing them too. Being locked up in this so-called “medical facility” was an additional form of isolation that he hated, nonetheless his closest friends at Polunsky always remained close to his heart. So thank you for the friendship you shared with Hank, it meant the world to him, it gave him the hope and strength to continue. In memoriam: Hank and his friends

Then to his legal team, Hank was very fond of the law and at times fought with his lawyers regarding the legal strategy for his case, but he loved and admired them too. After so many years working together, he considered them his friends and allies in the land of injustice. To Rob, Doug and Maria, an eternity of gratitude for your dedication and hard work on his behalf as well as for the friendship you developed and shared with him.

To Evelyne Giordani, Hank never spared us, but your commitment over time provided a well-managed defense fund which gave us both peace of mind and a solid friendship for over 25 years to both Hank and myself. Thank you!

To Nancy Bailey, our dear friend without whom Hank and I would have never been able to walk this long path together. You opened your home to me, you helped Hank on more occasions than I can recall. Your friendship and love made us both stronger. Thank you for being a true and tremendous friend.

To the very dedicated activists who worked tirelessly with me for the online communication to spread the word about Hank’s case and the truth, Gilles Denizot, Christian Hauer and Jérôme Borenstein, we owe you a huge debt of gratitude. Although this topic often lead to arguments because from death row Hank couldn’t have any understanding of how web tools and Internet work, he did finally accept that it was not a subject he could work on or control. He had to trust us, and he did. Even if it sounded like Chinese to him, he was grateful for the time, efforts, and creativity by those involved to keep his case alive despite the numerous years of waiting for one court decision or another.

To Terry Kupers, there will never be enough “thank you” to aptly express our gratitude. For 20+ years you have been a dear friend to both of us and a tireless advocate fighting for human conditions in US prisons and death rows in particular. Hank loved you like a brother and a true friend. These past few months have been particularly painful, harsh, and unpredictable, and you were always here for us.

To the abolitionist community, Hank and I often shared the same observations and frustrations. He certainly appreciated the support and efforts to spread the word about his innocence, and wished that power and ego trips could be set aside to improve and strengthen the strategies for quicker and better results. Since he was on death row, Hank lost more than 500 friends who were executed in Texas. He was acutely aware of the immensity of the collateral damages. A special thank you to ECPM in France, who has supported us both for many years. Hopefully, the memory of Hank’s energy and dedication to end the death penalty will inspire all activists around the world to increase their motivation and actions to reach the universal abolition of the death penalty.

To the journalists who took the time to investigate Hank’s case thoroughly to better expose the truth, Hank loved your work and your dedication. With a special thank you to Liliana Segura, Jordan Smith and Maggie Freleng, girls, your friendship and work on his behalf truly made a difference to his survival on death row. Even if the resources allocated to investigative journalism are scarce these days, please do not give up doing what you do so well!

To Hank’s friends in the world over the years, to him each one of you mattered a lot. Your friendship, your input, and your support made him stronger and happier too.

To conclude, I would like to send a huge thank you to the ICU staff at the UTMB hospital in Galveston, who took such good care of him and helped me through the process of making the hardest decision of my life: to let him go and free him from this body that caused him so much pain and torture these past three months.

Hank was and will always remain a free spirit and a force of nature. He did not want anyone to dwell on his death, so never forget the sound of his laughter, his sense of humor and the endless love he felt for life, freedom, and justice.

As for me, I lost my best friend, my confident, my soul mate, my everything. Together from beginning to end was our commitment to each other. Now I have to accept the new reality of a life without him and to give up on our projects. At this point, I’m unsure how long this transition will take, but I will not stop fighting for the worldwide abolition of the death penalty.

I thank you all for the numerous warm and friendly messages of support, don’t forget to smile and to live fully each and every day.

Sandrine Ageorges-Skinner

In memoriam: Hank and his friends