KEVEN E. HENSON was a gourmet cook who wasn't content to follow someone else's recipe.

"He would take different recipes for a dish, then come up with his own," said his wife, the former Rosemary T. Riley, who confessed to being a more traditional cook.

Keven put together his own cookbook, which included his many innovations, and it is still used by his family to prepare meals.

One of his specialties was marinated lamb. He would let the meat steep in the marinade for days.

"Not everybody likes lamb," his wife said, "but everybody liked his lamb."

Keven Henson, who once studied modeling just to improve the way he presented himself to the world, a Postal Service employee for more than 35 years, a fan of gospel music and the Bible, died Dec. 9 of respiratory failure. He was 56 and lived in Center City.

"Keven was many things to many people and he put his heart and soul into enjoying his life and helping others to enjoy theirs," Rosemary said.

He was born in Philadelphia to the late Isabel Henson. He graduated from Chichester High School, in Delaware County, in 1970, and later took a certificate in professional modeling from the Barbizon School of Modeling.

"He was always conscious of his appearance and impeccably groomed in good taste," his wife said.

In 1970, Keven joined the Postal Service and eventually became an instructor and for some years ran the Wanamaker Station.

He received a commendation for a suggestion concerning the training of clerks. For several years, he trained new employees in regulations and procedures in dealing with the public.

"He earned the reputation of being very knowledgeable and highly skilled in every area of postal transactions," his wife said. He was honored by fellow employees at a retirement party last year.

"He was generous with his time, thoughts and actions, especially when it came to entertaining, preparing gourmet meals, sharing vacations, traveling, birthdays and Christmas gifts," Rosemary added. "He made a difference to so many people's lives in his own special way."

He and Rosemary were married in 1978. During the 29 years of their married life, they were surrogate parents to nieces, nephews and children of close friends.

Keven's favorite gospel singer was Shirley Caesar. His favorite Bible passage was Romans 12:13: "Share with God's people who need help. Bring strangers in need into your homes."

He also is survived by a sister, Delores Williams.

Services: Were private. A memorial service will be held next month. *