Monday, August 2, 2010

Charlie Henderson celebration set for Aug. 14

A "Celebration of Life" for Charlie Henderson will be held on Aug. 14. It will begin at 10 a.m. and end at 1 p.m. at the Lone Pine Motel, 610 W. Main. All who knew him are welcome to come and share their memories.

(Below is a reprint of Henderson's obituary and a tribute by Star Valley Town Councilor Paty Henderson, his daughter-in-law and former Gazette assistant editor:)

Charlie Hudson Henderson of Star Valley passed away peacefully at home with son Fred at his bedside on May 23, 2010.

He was born March 5, 1916 near Olton, Lamb County, Texas, the oldest of 12. His parents were Ridland Green “Green” Henderson and Frankie Ann Slover Henderson.

Mr. Henderson married Ruth Buchanan Walker on October 17, 1947. They came to the Payson area on February 9, 1948 to run the ranch at Little Green Valley for Lawrence Anderson. He worked there until his retirement.

He was an army artillery gunner during World War II serving stateside and in the Phillipines.

Mr. Henderson is preceded in death by his parents, Green and Frankie Henderson; brothers Frank Price Henderson and Clifford Henderson; sisters Anna Lou Huff, Nola Dean Stewart, and Mary Elizabeth Bliss; his beloved wife, Ruth; and stepson, Gerald Walker.

He is survived by his son Fred (Paty) Henderson of Star Valley; grandsons Mike Henderson of Star Valley and Justin Henderson of Payson; granddaughters Susan (Eric) Wagner of Sisters, Ore., Carey Ashley and Rose Henderson of Payson, and cousin, Ned Jolly. Also 8 great grandchildren.

In keeping with Mr. Henderson’s philosophy of helping all who asked, the family wishes that donations and flowers be set aside and that you “pay it forward” with a kindly thought for him. Should you choose to lift a glass in his memory, VO would be his choice.

A “Celebration of Life” will be held at a later date, time and place to be announced.

Headin’ for the Last Roundup

By Paty Henderson
Mogollon Connection Contributor

With a trembling finger and a wistful look on the face ravaged by cancer, Charlie Henderson traced the outline of his wife Ruth’s face.

Her picture was in a frame that spelled his name with horseshoes, a gift from granddaughter Rose on his 94th birthday.

Charlie was born on the dusty plains of west Texas, near Olton in Lamb County, Texas on March 5, 1916 and passed away on May 23, 2010 at home under the shadows of Diamond Point with his son Fred at his bedside.

He was the oldest of the bunch his mother, Frankie Ann Slover Henderson, called her “dirty dozen.” His father, Ridland Green Henderson was known to all as “Green.”

Charlie grew up on the farms and ranches that his family owned around Hart and Dimmitt, Texas during the Great Depression. He was riding horses and herding cows from the time he was two years old.

“We were poor, but we didn’t know it. We had plenty to eat. Stuff from the garden, milk and eggs. Fruit from the orchard,” said Charlie.

“We made our own toys. Sometimes we’d chase a hoop with a stick.”

One time Charlie and his brothers R.G. and Cliff jumped out of the barn with feathers in their hands, certain they could fly.

“I left home ridin’ a horse and went straight to workin’ on a ranch,” Charlie remembered.

He ranched across New Mexico from Artesia to Santa Rosa. He ended up working for the Three Vees, a ranch near Seligman. There he met and talked with Ruth Buchanan Walker while in town.

WWII arrived and Charlie answered the call, serving as an army artillery gunner, first in California and later in the Philippines. He mustered out as a gunnery sergeant but the guns cost him the hearing in his right ear.

When he returned to ranching and Seligman, he courted Ruth and married her in Flagstaff, Arizona on October 17, 1947.

Ruth and Charlie came to Payson on February 9, 1948 to work the ranch at Little Green Valley for Lawrence Anderson. Son Fred was born a year later in Williams because there was no doctor in Payson at that time.

Charlie ranched, hunted, gardened and just generally lived the simple life he knew. Pat Cline, who with her husband Raymond had the ranch south of 260 that bordered Little Green Valley remembered, “Charlie was the best neighbor we ever had.”

He continued ranching until he retired. Fred and Mike Henderson continued the work, and even though Charlie couldn’t sit a horse anymore, he still had questions about the state of the range, how much water was there and how fat the cows were. His knowledge and interest in the ranch remained in the forefront of his mind and strong up to the very last.

He was the Grand Marshall for several rodeo parades and a source of information about the way Payson used to be, and a vanishing way of life.

His wife Ruth passed away in 2001 and Charlie soldiered on without her.

Most lately he battled cancer. He had an ear taken off and was quick to tell you that it was the one he could hear out of. The disease progressed and the pain became enough that Charlie would admit it was there.

He asked Lorenzo Gonzales to put down his 16 year old dog, Pokey. Gonzales is reported to have said to Pat Cline, “Pat, I put down your old dog Pecos and Raymond died the next day. I’m not putting Charlie’s dog down!”

He spent a few days in hospice to get the pain under control. He allowed that the people there were very nice so he “wasn’t going to give them any grief.”

He said to his son, “I’m not afraid to die, I don’t think. I’ve lived long enough, I’ve suffered enough.”

Then he extracted from his family the promise that they would do what he wanted, and bring him home.

Not a religious man but a quiet man of simple faith, he told his granddaughter Rose, “You ought to go to church once in a while -- maybe Christmas and Easter if you want to.”

Charlie rarely did.

Pat Cline said, “Charlie could saddle up and go out in the hills, come on some fat calves and look around. He’d know he was part of something, and that something was bigger than himself. His church was the wide-open spaces.”

His home holds the evidence of his love of family. Pictures of those who have gone before, his parents, brothers and sisters, and wife Ruth. Also those who remain behind, his son Fred and wife Paty; grandchildren Cindy, Susan, Mike, Carey, Justin and Rose. His great-grandchildren Hannah, John, Belle, Gracey, Wesley, Sarah, Danika, Dakota, his remaining brother, sisters and sisters-in-law, and cousin Ned Jolly.

Charlie cast a long shadow in Rim Country. He is remembered fondly by long time friends, too many to count, as well as neighbors.

Charlie and Ruth’s ashes will be mixed together and spread over the ranch that was such a large part of their lives.

Since Charlie was always one to lend a hand whenever asked, the family requests that you set aside flowers and donations and “pay it forward.” A “Celebration of Life” will be held at a later date. Time and place to be announced.

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