R.I.P. Hank Wiggins, Owner of Hank's Ice Cream

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hanks-thumb-500x750.jpg
Photo by Troy Fields
Two scoops of Hank's famous ice cream in salute of Hank Wiggins, 1937 - 2012.
Long before dessert pioneers like the Eatsie Boys were making sweet corn ice cream out of their colorful food truck, Hank Wiggins was making batches of the stuff -- as well as other seasonal favorites -- at his namesake ice cream parlor on South Main. Wiggins passed away on Saturday at the age of 74 after a long hospital stay. He had suffered a spinal injury in a fall this past summer.

Wiggins and his wife, Okemah, opened Hank's Ice Cream Parlor in 1985. The 27-year-old ice cream shop is a favorite with Houstonians and critics alike. Former Houston Press food critic Robb Walsh named the "homemade Southern flavor" of Hank's ice cream No. 46 on a list of his 100 favorite Houston dishes.

Walsh also named Hank's the No. 1 spot for ice cream in Houston in his 2009 cover story on the best ice cream experiences in town.

Wrote Walsh of the husband-and-wife operation at Hank's:

They used to make their ice cream in the back of the store, but the operation got too successful, and they had to move the ice cream factory a couple of doors down to a bigger space.

While Okemah Wiggins was scooping our ice cream, I asked her about the butterfat level. She wouldn't disclose the secret recipe, but she assured me the butterfat content is much higher than in the standard commercial stuff. "It's a premium ice cream," she said.

The butter pecan that Walsh loved so much is, in fact, still Hank's best-selling flavor.

According to the Chronicle's Ken Hoffman, Wiggins is survived by a daughter, a son-in-law and two grandchildren in addition to his wife of 50 years, whom he met and married straight out of college. A funeral is being planned for Friday or Saturday at Brentwood Baptist Church.

In the meantime, Hank's Ice Cream Parlor remains shut, with plans to open again soon. A sign on its door simply reads: "In loving memory of Hank, the store will be closed this week."



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Location Info

Hank's

9291 Main, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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Chrystene Joshua
Chrystene Joshua

I remember a trip I took with my two favorite first cousins a couple years ago, and I smile because Brother (I always called him) would never let me go with him when we were young. I spent many summers with my aunt and uncle along with Leroy. So that short trip we took together is a memory I will have of my dear cousins I will cherish. Even as I mourn I bow in  submission to God's will.  I LOVE YOU, Brother.       

N E Clark
N E Clark

Hank, You're the Man with all 97.9 flavors of Ice Cream made by Hank's...wattating!!!Gone but not forgotten my Brother...R.I.P.

Donald_gladys
Donald_gladys

THIS WAS SUCH A SHOCKING SAD DAY WHEN I LEARNED THAT MY CLASSMATE AND DEAR FRIEND HAD DEPARTED THIS WORLD. NOT ONLY WAS HE MY CLASS MATE, HE WAS ALSO FIRST COUSIN TO MY NEPHEW (HAYWARD (RAYFORD) MCNEIL JR. I LAST SAW HENRY AT A FREEMAN HIGH SCHOOL REUNION BACK IN THE EARLY 90'S. HE WAS SUCH A SPECIAL GUY ALL THROUGH SCHOOL AND BEYOND. I REMEMBER WE WOULD ALWAYS GO TO HIS FATHER'S STORE FROM THE SCHOOL YARD TO GET ICE CREAM CONES. HE GOT HIS TALENT NATURALLY.GOD HAS DETERMINED THAT HIS WORK ON THIS EARTH WAS COMPLETE AND SAID WELL DONE MY GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT.I WILL NEVER FORGET YOU.GLADYS RAYFORD DONALDSUNNYVALE, CA.

Chris Tucker
Chris Tucker

Mr. Hank was one of the nicest men and most gracious business owners Houston has ever seen.  He will surely be fondly remembered and dearly missed.  God's grace be with the family and his employees both now and always.

:(
:(

nice to see you can fit in some of your friends into a piece about a great man passing away... way to keep it classy................

TB
TB

Rest in peace kind sir. 

Ivan L Fennell
Ivan L Fennell

HANK WAS MY MENTOR, FRIEND, FATHER FIGURE SINCE IVE BEEN N HOUSTON. A GREAT BUSINESSMAN COMMITTED 2 HIS "CRAFT", CUSTOMER SERVICE, HIS FAMILY.

I LEARNED ALOT FROM HIM. IM A BETTER PERSON BY HAVING SOMEONE WHO WAS EASY 2 TALK 2, FUNNY & A HARD WORKER. MRS "O" HAS BEEN A AWESOME PARTNER WITH HANK AS WELL AS "LADRA" HIS DAUGHTER, ISIAH & BRET (GRANDS) WHO HANK WAS ALWAYS PROUD OF & EXCEPTIONAL PROUD THAT THEY ALL EXCELLED (ACADEMICALLY, INCLUDING THERE MOM) & ARE CURRENTLY HIGH ACHIEVING COLLEGE STUDENTS.

AS HE ALWAYS SAID, "IM THANKFUL 2 BE ALIVE EVERYDAY, AND HAVE LIVE THE LIFE THAT HAS MADE ME A HAPPY MAN".

EVERYTIME I EAT ICE CREAM (WHICH IS EVERYDAY) I WILL ALWAYS THINK ABOUT HENRY "HANK" WIGGINS.

IVAN FENNELL

MadMac
MadMac

God's grace to Hank and his family.

Dorothy_J _Burford
Dorothy_J _Burford

Goodbye Mr. Hanks,Your friendship and smile will shine on in my heart I'll never forget your soft spoken wise voice you always have made me fill like family when ever I enter your doors.  May God bless your family @ the time of there lost.   

Your Friend from Pasadena, Texas - Dorothy Burford

JON ROBINSON
JON ROBINSON

WE WILL NEVER FORGET YOU HANK!!WE LOVE YOU

Josefs
Josefs

So long Hank and thanks for all the ice cream. I remember joking with him about making a rum raisin coke float and calling it a Hank Libre. My wife and I would always sit by an 8x10 on the wall of a local girls singing group called Destiny, with a young Beyonce in the middle and a 713 number underneath. I always joked we should take the number down for our next birthday party. Great guy, great ice cream.

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