OBITUARY

William R. Henderson

January 13, 1933October 3, 2020
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Major William “Bill” Robert Henderson, USAF, Retired, was called home to his Lord and Savior on Saturday, October 3, 2020. He was pre-deceased by his parents, Fred and Helen Henderson; his sister, Helen Stabler; and wife, Wanda (Henry) Henderson, mother to his children. Bill is remembered with deep love by his wife, Glynda Henderson of Edmond, OK; his daughters: Susie (Henderson) Miller and her husband, Bill, Wendy Henderson, and Diedre (Henderson) Williams and her husband, Randy, and step-sons Dean Walker and Len Gardner and his wife, Jennifer; his grandchildren: Clint Miller and his wife, Christi, parents of great-grandchildren, Leighton and Finley, Jill Williams Matthews and her husband, Rob, parents of Bill’s soon-be-welcomed great-grandson, Jordan Miller, and Tyler Williams; four step-grandchildren; six step-great-grandchildren; and an extended circle of family and friends. Bill was born in Kansas City, MO. Upon graduation from high school, he joined the U.S. Air Force where he proudly served as a decorated fighter pilot of numerous jets, including his favorite F-104 Starfighter. His military service took him to Okinawa, Laos, Vietnam, Washington DC, Arizona, South Korea, and to Berlin, where during the Cold War, Bill served at the Berlin Air Safety Center, a most unique and distinguished position of safely directing American airplanes through airspace that was individually controlled over what was then West and East Berlin; four distinct countries – the Soviet Union, France, England and United States – each represented by an individual officer, who, in one room and facing each other across air traffic control boards, worked together during this most tumultuous of times to safely manage the air space above the Berlin Wall and the city it separated. After 23 years in the USAF, Bill retired and went on to earn a BS degree from Oklahoma City University. Bill dabbled in a number of entrepreneurial pursuits, including selling corporate jets, before he found his second-calling working for the Federal Aviation Administration. One of his proudest work achievements was leading the talented FAA team that developed the arrival and departure flight patterns at the brand new, innovative, and world-class Denver International Airport. As a leader, Bill’s dedication to both the professional and personal success of his team is evident in the group of employees who have stayed in close touch with Bill since his FAA retirement 21 years ago, both for fun (playing golf and a bit a wagering over a pint of beer) and for their care and unwavering support to Bill. Upon his retirement from the FAA, Bill found love a second time with our adored, Glynda, and he passionately played golf, enjoyed traveling with Glynda and many friends, and relished being surrounded by his beloved family. Daddy/Grandpa Bill has had a profound impact on his family – his strength became our strength, his compassion became our compassion, his humor and smile always left us content, and his bear hugs provided us with a lifetime of reassurance and powerful love. Known as “Mr. Safety” by his family, Bill never let an opportunity pass to remind those he loved to lock their doors and to call him to let him know that they had arrived safely at their destination; we have always been “my baby girls”. The son of a mechanic who could take apart and repair, well, anything, Bill inherited that intuitive gene and became known as “Mr. Fix-It” to even his littlest fans at the daycare center housed inside one of his and Glynda’s investment properties. You’d forgive him for not always being patience while teaching three daughters how to take care of themselves (we are a bit of Miss Fix-It’s to this day), and for his household democracy which humorously, albeit repeatedly, gave four votes to his wife and daughters and five votes for himself. Yet, he did not disappoint to thoughtfully surprise and engage us throughout our time together. Bill lived by the mantra of “helping others along the way” and his dedication to this principle continues as he generously donated his earthly body towards the priceless gift of medical advancements. Bill lived by the mantra of “helping others along the way” and his dedication to this principle continues as he generously donated his earthly body towards the priceless gift of medical advancements.

There will be a socially distanced (mask up) Celebration of Life at 11:30 AM on Tuesday, October 13, 2020 at Church of the Servant, 14343 N MacArthur Blvd, Oklahoma City, OK 73142, with care from Bill Merritt Funeral Service. For those unable to attend, the service will be live streamed For those unable to attend, the service will be live streamed at https://servantokc.org/watch. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to Wounded Warrior Project or Alzheimer’s Association.

Services

  • Celebration of Life

    Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Memories

William R. Henderson

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Tom Burton

October 13, 2020

Today is full of so many emotions. I will miss this strong honorable man so much. He has a huge imprint in my life. Love you Bill and thank you.

Paige Hirt

October 11, 2020

My sincerest condolences. Bill was so very thoughtful and supportive when I lost my grandmother, Jewel Shoemaker/Denny. He shared wonderful memories of her and my grandfather, John Shoemaker, and how close they all were when they lived close together and when he came to Idaho to visit. All my best to you and your family. May your memories give you everlasting peace and joy.

Cairlyn Combs

October 11, 2020

Diedre, I am so sorry for the loss of your dad. I remember being fascinated by him; he seemed like an adventurous man of mystery! He was always so kind to me. Most of all, I remember how fiercely he loved his girls. My deepest sympathy.

ALBERT MASTELLO

October 10, 2020

My deepest sympathies to the entire Henderson family. Bill took us new hires under his wing and provided the leadership and mentorship to transition us from our military ways to the FAA way of doing business. We all enjoyed great civilian careers with the FAA. More than that Bill became a friend to most all of us and we will remain friends until and after we meet again one day. Bill was dedicated to the art of flying. He now rests with Gods angels and him being a retired USAF pilot I off the following by John Gillespie Magee: "Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed and joined the tumbling mirth of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things You have not dreamed of -
wheeled and soared and swung high in the sunlit silence.
Hovering there I've chased the shouting wind along
and flung my eager craft through footless halls of air.
"Up, up the long delirious burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace,
where never lark, or even eagle, flew;
and, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
the high untrespassed sanctity of space,
put out my hand and touched the face of God."

May God comfort you and hold you in his palm and bring peace and serenity to your family and friends as they wait patiently to one day join you in eternal life. Godspeed my friend, until we meet again!

Pat Halloran

October 9, 2020

What an exciting life Bill lived and loved. Our friendships began with our assignments as pilots to the same Air Force fighter unit. That was a long time ago and we have been the best of friends ever since. We shared sadness at the losses of many of our pilot friends but joy at the opportunity to have served our country with them. Bill was a warrior pursing peace but also a man of God . . . and now he has been called home for the reward of a life well lived.

Sherrie (Stabler) Simmond

October 8, 2020

My wonderful Uncle Bill, you will be so missed. From the day you threw my baby bottle into the woods when I was three to the time when, at age 10, you brought me a new bicycle in the trunk of your white Cadillac with the red leather interior, to the concern you showed for my Mom, your sister, over the last several years, you have always been family first and foremost. I hope you knew you were my favorite uncle. We love you and will miss you forever. Godspeed, Major!

Tom Kirkpatrick

October 8, 2020

Always enjoyed getting to talk with Bill whenever we got together to make our golf pics for all of the major tournaments. He was always a homer the OSU guys.

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