In memory of
John A. Henderson
Read More
In memory of
John A. Henderson
The family of John A. Henderson, beloved husband, father, and grandfather, mourn his death, which occurred on February 9, 2019, and celebrate the life of this talented, dignified, and loving man. John was born into a family of educators, on December 10, 1928 in Zelienople, PA. His father, J. Hugh Henderson, was a school administrator and eventually the second in command at the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Known as "Hatchet Henderson", he oversaw the budgets of all of the school districts in the state, as that was how it was done back then. John's mother, Mary Helen (Hess) Henderson was a teacher; indeed, one of John's ancestors came over from Scotland before the American Revolution to teach school. His mother's knowledge of teaching came to be enormously important when John was in first grade. At the age of six, he contracted rheumatic fever. A killer in those days due to no antibiotics, the only way to save Johnny and to hopefully protect his heart, was to have him stay in bed and take aspirin. Stay in bed he did. His mother educated him for the two full years that he was bedbound, taking him around in a large rattan stroller during the last months of his confinement to visit the school in Shiremanstown, where he would return to the third grade, ahead of his classmates in all subjects save spelling. John overcame his heart problems and became a musician, athlete, and academic. He was a clarinetist, who took lessons from the first-chair clarinetist of the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra. He played clarinet during high school and college. John also played the piano, and had a talent for picking up any instrument and being able to play it. He always said that if you learned to play the piano, you could play anything. John also played sand lot baseball and softball in Shiremanstown, and played on winning intramural teams during his years at Allegheny College in Meadville, PA. He also enjoyed tennis and golf. John's yearbook called him a "math whiz"; his family knew him to be a man of numbers. He had an inherent grasp of the logic and concepts of mathematics, and became a high school math and science teacher, taking up his first teaching job in Centre Hall, PA in 1950. Very soon he ventured into school administration, his second job being at Shippensburg Jr/Sr High School, where he taught math and was assistant principal. From there he went to Lewistown, PA, where he was principal of the junior high school. In 1961 he became the youngest school superintendent in the state of Pennsylvania, landing the job at the Blairsville/Saltsburg School District. He came into the position just as the district was building a new high school. This was the first of many building projects that John oversaw during his many years as school superintendent. Along the way he received his master's degree from The Pennsylvania State University and continued to work on his doctorate there, as well. In 1972 John was elected Superintendent of Schools for the Susquenita School District, and moved his family to Duncannon, PA. He believed it was very important to live within the district. One of the reasons for this belief was related to commitment to the community, and another was school safety. In those days the danger to students was primarily at the school bus pick-up site. John had a large cork board installed in his office, where he drew a map of the district. Each child was a peg, with a different color for each of the two buildings that made up the Susquenita campus at that time. Mr. Henderson was known for walking all the bus routes in the district. John was always an exerciser and walked fast and hard every day for his health. He applied this to the bus routes, and documented each and every bus stop for every child, making sure it was safe. Those were the days before buses picked children up at their own driveways, and John believed it was imperative that there was a line of sight surrounding each bus stop. When a parent called in to inquire about a bus stop change, he always knew intimately the lay of the land. John also kept tabs on what was going on in the classrooms of his schools. Occasionally he would substitute teach high school mathematics, to see for himself what was going on "in the trenches." Because John was a math guy, he had a concentration in school finance during his doctoral work. He applied this knowledge for the good of Susquenita; for instance, he was able to build tennis courts at no cost to the public, by investing school money in a savvy way. John had many hobbies and interests. He was always passionately involved in his music. He played the lap dulcimer and autoharp and for many years performed "gigs" with his wife, who accompanied him by playing the spoons and wash tub bass. John sang in the church choir and was a member of the Carlindian Chorus, a barbershop group based in Carlisle. He taught his grandchildren to play the piano, and was a long-time member of Off The Wall, a dulcimer/ autoharp group for which he occasionally arranged songs that would then be published. John had a lovely baritone voice and would often sing his daughters to sleep at night. John loved hiking the Appalachian Trail and loved birding. He was a long-time member of the board for Appalachian Audubon and would document bird sightings for Cornell University for the Christmas Bird Counts, as well as feeder watches and other avian-based citizen science initiatives. History was another of John's passions. He could give a Gettysburg battlefield tour as knowledgeably as the guides. He read extensively and widely, always buying many history books at the Simpson Library book sales. John gave of himself tirelessly to Christ Lutheran Church in Duncannon, and also to his family, many of whom are musicians, birders, hikers, and lovers of history. He is survived by his wife of 69years, Marianne Gross. His four daughters, Betsy Henderson Riter of Duncannon, Brenda Malek of Blairsville, PA, Sally Ohanesian of Prescott, Arizona, and Amy Beth Schell of Coopersburg, PA, all surviving him, as well. He has grandchildren and great grandchildren almost too numerous to count. His legacy lives on, especially in his dignity, integrity, commitment to duty, and love. The entire family is devastated by his loss, but find benediction by his life and his love. Funeral services will be held at 3:00 P.M. on Saturday, February 16, 2019 in Christ Lutheran Church, Duncannon, PA. A viewing will be from 1:00 P.M. until 3:00 P.M. on Saturday in the church. Arrangements are under the care of the Ronald C.L. Smith Funeral Home, Duncannon. To send condolences or to share memories with the family, please go to BitnerCares.com. Memorial contributions may be made to Christ Lutheran Church, 115 Church Street, Duncannon, PA or the American Heart Association, 4250 Crums Mill Road, Suite 100, Harrisburg, PA 17112.
View Full Obituary ›
Services Provided By
Ronald C.L. Smith Funeral Home
325 N. High Street
Duncannon, PA 17020
Past Services ╲╱
opt299:
opt312: Original
In memory of
John A. Henderson
The family of John A. Henderson, beloved husband, father, and grandfather, mourn his death, which occurred on February 9, 2019, and celebrate the life of this talented, dignified, and loving man. John was born into a family of educators, on December 10, 1928 in Zelienople, PA. His father, J. Hugh Henderson, was a school administrator and eventually the second in command at the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Known as "Hatchet Henderson", he oversaw the budgets of all of the school districts in the state, as that was how it was done back then. John's mother, Mary Helen (Hess) Henderson was a teacher; indeed, one of John's ancestors came over from Scotland before the American Revolution to teach school. His mother's knowledge of teaching came to be enormously important when John was in first grade. At the age of six, he contracted rheumatic fever. A killer in those days due to no antibiotics, the only way to save Johnny and to hopefully protect his heart, was to have him stay in bed and take aspirin. Stay in bed he did. His mother educated him for the two full years that he was bedbound, taking him around in a large rattan stroller during the last months of his confinement to visit the school in Shiremanstown, where he would return to the third grade, ahead of his classmates in all subjects save spelling. John overcame his heart problems and became a musician, athlete, and academic. He was a clarinetist, who took lessons from the first-chair clarinetist of the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra. He played clarinet during high school and college. John also played the piano, and had a talent for picking up any instrument and being able to play it. He always said that if you learned to play the piano, you could play anything. John also played sand lot baseball and softball in Shiremanstown, and played on winning intramural teams during his years at Allegheny College in Meadville, PA. He also enjoyed tennis and golf. John's yearbook called him a "math whiz"; his family knew him to be a man of numbers. He had an inherent grasp of the logic and concepts of mathematics, and became a high school math and science teacher, taking up his first teaching job in Centre Hall, PA in 1950. Very soon he ventured into school administration, his second job being at Shippensburg Jr/Sr High School, where he taught math and was assistant principal. From there he went to Lewistown, PA, where he was principal of the junior high school. In 1961 he became the youngest school superintendent in the state of Pennsylvania, landing the job at the Blairsville/Saltsburg School District. He came into the position just as the district was building a new high school. This was the first of many building projects that John oversaw during his many years as school superintendent. Along the way he received his master's degree from The Pennsylvania State University and continued to work on his doctorate there, as well. In 1972 John was elected Superintendent of Schools for the Susquenita School District, and moved his family to Duncannon, PA. He believed it was very important to live within the district. One of the reasons for this belief was related to commitment to the community, and another was school safety. In those days the danger to students was primarily at the school bus pick-up site. John had a large cork board installed in his office, where he drew a map of the district. Each child was a peg, with a different color for each of the two buildings that made up the Susquenita campus at that time. Mr. Henderson was known for walking all the bus routes in the district. John was always an exerciser and walked fast and hard every day for his health. He applied this to the bus routes, and documented each and every bus stop for every child, making sure it was safe. Those were the days before buses picked children up at their own driveways, and John believed it was imperative that there was a line of sight surrounding each bus stop. When a parent called in to inquire about a bus stop change, he always knew intimately the lay of the land. John also kept tabs on what was going on in the classrooms of his schools. Occasionally he would substitute teach high school mathematics, to see for himself what was going on "in the trenches." Because John was a math guy, he had a concentration in school finance during his doctoral work. He applied this knowledge for the good of Susquenita; for instance, he was able to build tennis courts at no cost to the public, by investing school money in a savvy way. John had many hobbies and interests. He was always passionately involved in his music. He played the lap dulcimer and autoharp and for many years performed "gigs" with his wife, who accompanied him by playing the spoons and wash tub bass. John sang in the church choir and was a member of the Carlindian Chorus, a barbershop group based in Carlisle. He taught his grandchildren to play the piano, and was a long-time member of Off The Wall, a dulcimer/ autoharp group for which he occasionally arranged songs that would then be published. John had a lovely baritone voice and would often sing his daughters to sleep at night. John loved hiking the Appalachian Trail and loved birding. He was a long-time member of the board for Appalachian Audubon and would document bird sightings for Cornell University for the Christmas Bird Counts, as well as feeder watches and other avian-based citizen science initiatives. History was another of John's passions. He could give a Gettysburg battlefield tour as knowledgeably as the guides. He read extensively and widely, always buying many history books at the Simpson Library book sales. John gave of himself tirelessly to Christ Lutheran Church in Duncannon, and also to his family, many of whom are musicians, birders, hikers, and lovers of history. He is survived by his wife of 69years, Marianne Gross. His four daughters, Betsy Henderson Riter of Duncannon, Brenda Malek of Blairsville, PA, Sally Ohanesian of Prescott, Arizona, and Amy Beth Schell of Coopersburg, PA, all surviving him, as well. He has grandchildren and great grandchildren almost too numerous to count. His legacy lives on, especially in his dignity, integrity, commitment to duty, and love. The entire family is devastated by his loss, but find benediction by his life and his love. Funeral services will be held at 3:00 P.M. on Saturday, February 16, 2019 in Christ Lutheran Church, Duncannon, PA. A viewing will be from 1:00 P.M. until 3:00 P.M. on Saturday in the church. Arrangements are under the care of the Ronald C.L. Smith Funeral Home, Duncannon. To send condolences or to share memories with the family, please go to BitnerCares.com. Memorial contributions may be made to Christ Lutheran Church, 115 Church Street, Duncannon, PA or the American Heart Association, 4250 Crums Mill Road, Suite 100, Harrisburg, PA 17112.
View Full Obituary ›
Services Provided By
Ronald C.L. Smith Funeral Home
325 N. High Street
Duncannon, PA 17020
Past Services ╲╱
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Greater Glory Basket

Sku:
ftd-S43-5027S

Greater Glory Basket

Sku:
ftd-S43-5027D

Greater Glory Basket

Sku:
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Product Description

Celebrate the life of a departed friend or family member with an exuberant and patriotic bouquet of red, white and blue flowers. Comforting memories of a life lived in service to the country are bought to mind with red and white roses, white gladioli and Oriental lilies, and blue hydrangeas beautifully arranged in a simply lovely white woodchip basket. Perfect for floor or tabletop display at a wake, for an altar or in a sanctuary at the funeral or to send to the home of grieving family and friends.

Standard arrangement is approximately 25"H x 19"W.

Deluxe arrangement is approximately 27"H x 19"W.

Premium arrangement is approximately 27"H x 21"W.

Sku: ftd-S43-5027S

Celebrate the life of a departed friend or family member with an exuberant and patriotic bouquet of red, white and blue flowers. Comforting memories of a life lived in service to the country are bought to mind with red and white roses, white gladioli and Oriental lilies, and blue hydrangeas beautifully arranged in a simply lovely white woodchip basket. Perfect for floor or tabletop display at a wake, for an altar or in a sanctuary at the funeral or to send to the home of grieving family and friends.

Standard arrangement is approximately 25"H x 19"W.

Deluxe arrangement is approximately 27"H x 19"W.

Premium arrangement is approximately 27"H x 21"W.

Sku: ftd-S43-5027D

Celebrate the life of a departed friend or family member with an exuberant and patriotic bouquet of red, white and blue flowers. Comforting memories of a life lived in service to the country are bought to mind with red and white roses, white gladioli and Oriental lilies, and blue hydrangeas beautifully arranged in a simply lovely white woodchip basket. Perfect for floor or tabletop display at a wake, for an altar or in a sanctuary at the funeral or to send to the home of grieving family and friends.

Standard arrangement is approximately 25"H x 19"W.

Deluxe arrangement is approximately 27"H x 19"W.

Premium arrangement is approximately 27"H x 21"W.

Sku: ftd-S43-5027P
Need Help? Have Questions?