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Expo New Mexico media director dies

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Michael Henningsen, media and communications director for Expo New Mexico and a fixture in Albuquerque’s music scene, was found dead at his Cedar Crest home early Friday, his wife, Danette Townsend, confirmed. He was 47.

A cause of death has not been determined by the state Office of the Medical Investigator, Townsend said Tuesday.

Henningsen had played in a number of local bands over the years and had been a music critic for The Alibi, a local alternative weekly. He had also been editor in chief at the weekly.

Townsend said she and Henningsen met in their 10th-grade English class at Eldorado High School, where they graduated in 1985. They reconnected years later at a friend’s wedding and were married on Sept. 1, 2002.

Henningsen had been media and communications director at Expo New Mexico since April 2008.

“Michael was more than a co-worker, he was a friend,” said Dan Mourning, general manager at the state-owned venue. “I loved that boy. It’s a personal tragedy and a big loss to the State Fair. … We’re all pretty close out here and Michael was a big part of the glue … that keeps us together. It’s a big loss to us and to the community.”

Townsend said a celebration of her husband’s life will be held June 19 at Expo New Mexico. Details are still being worked out, she said.

Besides Townsend, survivors include Henningsen’s parents, Tom Henningsen and Mary Smiraldo, and a sister, Kristin Henningsen-Schwarz.