Carmen Henning, age 83, a resident of Minneapolis for many years, passed away Jan. 10, 2021, at Fairview Southdale Hospital.
A celebration of life will take place at St. Victoria Catholic Church in Victoria, Tuesday, Feb. 16 at 4 p.m., with Father Bob White as officiant. A visitation will begin at 3:30 p.m., until the time of the service.
Arrangements are with the Johnson Funeral Home in Waconia, 952-442-2121, www.johnsonfh.com.
Carmen was born Feb. 7, 1937, in Delano, to Charles and Leona (Matter) Dunn. Carmen had two sisters, Mary and Diane. She was a 1951 graduate of St. Peter Grade School, and a 1955 graduate of Delano High School.
Carmen was united in marriage to John “Arlo” Henning of Watertown, June 16, 1962. They welcomed their daughter, Carol, into the world the following year.
Carmen’s passion was singing. She started singing with some local music groups in the Watertown area, including the Fingerbenders. She also sang in the choir at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Watertown.
Carmen was divorced in 1974. She applied for a job posted by Melvin “Sonny” Charger, who was looking for a lead singer to start a band. Sonny said he knew right away that she was the one. They named their band “Carmen and the Red Bandana.”
Carmen and the band entertained people around the metro area with their classic country western sound. They took the band on the road, spending the summers entertaining travelers in the Black Hills of South Dakota and other neighboring states.
Later in life, they would entertain people at metro flea markets, and attend jam sessions at the Eagles #34 and the Hexagon Bar in south Minneapolis. They would also entertain the residents at Jones-Harrison Residence, where Carmen worked for many years serving meals to the residents (sometimes with a song).
Carmen and Sonny’s last performance together was a few years ago at a talent show at Augustana Healthcare in Minneapolis, where they resided.
Carmen liked to travel. Her favorite place to visit each year was Las Vegas with Sonny and her friend, Judy. They also made yearly trips to Eagle Butte, SD to visit Sonny’s family. Carmen traveled with her daughter, Carol, taking her to Disney World in 1976, via a three-day Greyhound bus ride to Florida. Carol and Carmen also visited the Grand Canyon. Their last trip together was a road trip to Branson.
Carmen loved to play Bingo, and visit local casinos. She was a regular fixture at the Bingo Palace in West St. Paul. When it started getting harder for her to get around, she enjoyed special outings when Carol drove her, Sonny, and her friends, Judy and Chick, to the Turtle Lake Casino.
Carmen had a secret for many years. She had two children before she was married, and she gave them up for adoption. When both of the children were adults, they wanted to meet their biological mother, and Carmen agreed to the meeting. First, she met her daughter, Rae-Ann Gauvitte, and later, she met her son, Joe Braga.
Carmen was preceded in death by parents, Charles and Leona Dunn; partner, Melvin “Sonny” Charger; son, Joe Braga; son-in-law, Chris Gauvitte; sisters, Mary Schmieg, and Diane Dunn; and niece, Barb Schmieg.
She is survived by daughters, Carol (Tony) Henning, and Rae-Ann Gauvitte; daughter-in-law, Debbie Braga; brother-in-law, Dick Schmieg; seven grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, nieces, and nephews.