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Life Story / Obituary
When reflecting on the life of Reverend Stanley Henderson, it is clear to see that he lived his life to be a reflection of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He was a devoted family man who experienced so many of the best things that life has to offer with his true love by his side. Stan faced times of trial in his life with strength and courage that were such an inspiration to those who were near. Generous beyond measure, Stan was a blessing to countless others throughout his life. Although he will be deeply missed, his family and friends find comfort in knowing that he is enjoying perfect peace in his eternal home.
Life during the 1930s was anything but easy as the entire decade was cloaked in the hardship of the Great Depression. Jobs were scarce, the unemployment rate soared, and things only went from bad to worse when a drought covered our nation’s heartland for nearly two years. Despite the hardship around them, Daniel and Helen (Kresge) Henderson were able to shift their focus to an exciting time in their own lives as they were pleased to announce the birth of the baby boy they named Stanley Ray on August 16, 1932, in Yakima, Washington. He was the middle son of three boys in his family as he was raised in the Henderson clan alongside his brothers, Norman and Clarence. To support their family, Stan’s father worked as a machinist for Boeing, and then became a welder for another firm. His mother was a homemaker who also worked in the factory for Boeing during WWII and in later years worked as a first grade teacher. In many ways he was a young boy of his generation. Stan attended high school first in Seattle and then graduated from Ketchikan, Alaska, where his parents had moved to do church mission work. He later went on to earn his bachelor of arts degree in English Bible and then a master's of arts in religious studies from Bob Jones University. He was ordained in the Evangelical Covenant Church in 1963. A talented musician, Stan and his brother, Norm, played trumpet and saxophone for Youth For Christ rallies along the West Coast including in Oakland, California during their teenage years.
Not to be forgotten during his years as a young man was Stan’s introduction to the woman of his dreams. Her name was Mary Frances Awbery, and they met while in college. They began dating, and it didn’t take them long to fall deeply in love. With a desire to establish a life together Stan and Frankie were married on June 2, 1954, in Greenville, South Carolina. Together they welcomed two children including Daniel in 1956 and David in 1959 into their hearts and home. As a father Stan could be strict at times, but he was also patient, sensitive, tender hearted, and caring. He always made time for his family, and some of their favorite memories were made on vacations. Among the most memorable were trips to Oceanside, California, vacations in the Redwoods, to Knott’s Berry Farms and to Disneyland, as well.
Throughout his life Stan was deeply devoted to his ministry. He served Covenant churches in Turlock, Downey, and Oakland, California as well as in Rockford, Illinois. From there, Stan served as Northwest Conference superintendent for 14 years, retiring in 1995. Following his retirement, he also served as interim vice president for the denomination as well as interim pastor at Faith Covenant Church in St. Petersburg, Florida and also at First Evangelical Covenant Church. For over 16 years, Stan and his wife were active members there and eager to serve. Of Stan, Evangelical Covenant Church president Gary Walter said, “He was unashamed of the gospel and understood the importance of the mission. He was always true to his calling—smart and spiritually minded, courageous and tender, tireless and encouraging.”
A man who enjoyed being busy, Stan enjoyed pursuing his interests when he had the time. He liked sailing, puttering around at the lake in his small boat. He was an avid golfer, and in his later years, loved Wednesday morning golf outings with his friends from church. An accomplished saxophone player, Stan was also an amazing singer. He loved classical music, old hymns, and reading everything from theology, historical fiction, and biographies to fiction from Tom Clancy and John Grisham. Stan was a meat and potatoes man who also loved seafood and a good kosher hot dog. During their retirement years he and Frankie enjoyed spending time in Florida, and he liked watching Duke basketball whenever he could.
Disciplined, strong, and organized are just a few of the words that describe the extraordinary man that Reverend Stanley Henderson was. He was highly respected and known for his integrity, yet he was never judgmental of others. Stan was hard working and could be a perfectionist at times, and he was truly a man of his word. Life will never be the same without him here, but he leaves behind a timeless legacy that is deeply rooted in selfless compassion that his loved ones will proudly carry on in his footsteps.
GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Former Northwest Conference superintendent Stan Henderson, 84, passed away peacefully in his sleep the morning of March 10, 2017. Survivors include his beloved wife, Frankie, of 62 years; brothers, Norman [Lucy] and Clarence [Janet]; sons, Daniel [Diane] and David [Tina]; grandchildren Jonathan [Alyse], Matthew [Jennifer], Elise [Zach], Katherine, Anna, Jason [Mary], Steven [Stephanie], Kelli [Dan], Markella, and Samantha; and great grandchildren, Marigny, Jessalyn, Jeremiah, Gabriel, Joshua, Luke, Kaiden, and Kaitlyn. Visitation will be Friday, March 17 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Heritage Funeral Home, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. N.W., Grand Rapids, MI 49504. Services will be at 11 a.m. onSaturday, March 18, at First Evangelical Covenant Church in Grand Rapids. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts will be directed to Stanley R. Henderson Scholarship Fund, North Park Seminary, 3225 W. Foster Ave. Chicago, IL 60625. Please visit Rev. Henderson's personal web page to learn more of his life story, leave a memory or condolence at www.lifestorynet.com.