OBITUARY

Alice McKee Henderson

December 17, 1932September 15, 2021

Wanda Alice McKee Henderson passed away peacefully at her home in Ridgeland, Mississippi, on September 15, 2021. She was 88.

Classy, elegant, kind, and loving are adjectives that one could use to describe Alice. To know her was to love her. Her constant positivity and infectious giggle imbued warmth into all who crossed her path. From her childhood home on Council Circle in Jackson, her years spent living in New Orleans, her warm, inviting homestead on Southwood Road, to her place at The Orchard in her later years, all who came to know Alice during these different phases of her life were friends whom she made to feel like family.

Alice was born to Wanda O’Daniel McKee and Clyde Vernon McKee Sr. in Pontotoc, Mississippi, on December 17, 1932, the youngest of three children. Alice’s mother died from an illness when Alice was three years old. Her father later married Ruth Porter, who helped raise Alice. Her two older beloved brothers, Clyde Vernon McKee Jr. and John Max McKee, also helped take care of Alice. A family story is told of Clyde, 18 years Alice’s senior, having to babysit her by bringing her to some of his college events and parties. Later, Clyde’s wife, Mary Louise Bevil McKee, would often stand in as a mother figure, as well, for Alice.

Alice graduated from the University of Mississippi, or Ole Miss, where she was a member of the Chi Omega sorority. Alice and her husband, John, were proud, lifelong donors to his alma mater, Trinity University in Texas, and to hers, Ole Miss. They established the John P. and Wanda Alice Henderson Council Scholarship at Ole Miss that helps assure students not only are supported in their academic studies, but also benefit from broadening experiences such as travel to cultural locations and monthly dinners with life lessons. They were also longtime benefactors of the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and the First Baptist Church of Jackson. After college, Alice went to work in New Orleans, serving as a secretary to executives at Shell Oil Company for many years. Her nieces and nephews remember walking by the gigantic Shell skyscraper in New Orleans and hearing Alice tell tales of her adventures while living and working there years before like taking the trolley to work, all with her trademark smile and giggle.

It was in New Orleans that Alice met the love of her life, former Navy captain, John Pinkney Henderson. John, a longtime employee of ExxonMobil Corp., asked Alice and her friend to a work lunch one day, and after, Alice wrote John a thank you note. John was exceedingly impressed by her thank you note and darling dresses and became smitten. Alice and John married in 1967. They spent many years living in the Garden District and enjoying the social scene in New Orleans. Their nieces and nephews fondly remember trips to visit them in New Orleans, where Alice and John would take them to the finest restaurants and social clubs, like “Friday Lunch” at Galatoire’s, where friend and long-time server, Emery, would take care of them. A good time was had by all.

Alice and John returned to Jackson to care for Alice’s father, Clyde, who had then retired from his position of Superintendent of Schools in Mississippi, and they became active in their church, the First Baptist Church of Jackson, for many decades. Their lifelong friendships created through this fellowship provided another valuable source of love for the Hendersons over the years. Alice’s faith was strong and unwavering, and comforted her through her grief when she lost John on February 7, 2011, at the age of 95.

The Hendersons were some of the most active members of the Jackson social scene. Alice held a social calendar that would rival that of any teenager’s. On any given Friday and Saturday evening, you could find Alice and John attending or hosting one of their many “Supper Clubs.” Alice was a consummate host and encouraged her nieces and grand nieces at a young age to begin thinking about a china and silver pat-tern to collect. Alice delighted in entertaining in her beautiful home on Southwood Road, which she helped design, and hosted many joy-filled gatherings there. Her beloved nieces and nephews will fondly remember visiting there and waking up to have cafe au lait (coffee with chicory) and merriment each morning with Alice and John in the “sun room,” reading the paper, or discussing the latest Rebel or Saints football game. On Sunday mornings, after church, the pair could be found at “The Club,” the Jackson Country Club, where they were beloved for decades.

Alice possessed a seemingly effortless skill of elevating any situation to make it more fun and more glamorous. Grand-nephews John Kent and Cameron remember her making blowing out candles fun with a variety of elegant candle-snuffers that she would pull out and ask them to commence dimming the flames. Her family and friends will no doubt remember her famous Café Royale set that she would take out at the end of her many-coursed dinners – events that typified her joie de vivre – which involved lighting sugar cubes on fire, soaked in brandy, to the delight of all. Once, she sent her husband, John, who was at the time up in years, her older brother, Clyde, nephew Tad, and grand nephew, Robert, a small boy at the time, to acquire a new blow torch to perfectly crisp her crème brulee, as hers had malfunctioned. Hilariously, store after store turned the apparently “motley” crew away thinking they might want to use the torch to cook a more nefarious non-dessert substance. Stories like these brought many laughs for many years in the family, and Alice was always laughing.

In later years, after John passed, you could find Alice in her immaculately-decorated apartment, for which Alice had a decorator find a place for many of her beautiful pieces of furniture and décor from her South-wood home. Her unit was resplendent in chandeliers, framed oil paintings, and antique furniture. And de-spite years of Alzheimer’s during this later phase of life, Alice’s sweet giggle, and soft, comforting drawl never wavered. She found humor in everything and was witty and happy until the end. “Love you, dear one,” will remain an imprint in the memory of her family and dear friends forever. We will celebrate and remember our beloved Alice always.

Alice is joyfully welcomed in Heaven by her late husband, John Pinkney Henderson, her mother and father, Wanda O’Daniel McKee and Clyde V. McKee Sr., and step-mother Ruth Porter McKee, her brother and sister-in-law, Clyde Vernon McKee Jr. and Mary Louise Bevil McKee, and brother and sister-in-law, John Max McKee and Carolyn McKee.

Alice is survived by her nieces and nephews, grand nieces and nephews, great-grands, and cousins, for whom loving memories and words like “dear heart” and “little one” will always conjure up gratitude for having been related to such a wonderful human being and delightful soul. Family members who mourn her loss include niece, Ann McKee Calhoun and spouse Kent of McKinney, TX, and grand nephews, John Kent Calhoun and spouse Kerregan, Cameron Calhoun and spouse Brooke and son Cason; nephew, Clyde V. McKee III “Tad” and spouse Terese of Orange, TX, and grand niece, Emily McKee Mellen and spouse Austin, and grand nephew, Robert McKee and spouse Sarah and son Colbin; niece, Wanda McKee Fowler and spouse Roger of Houston, TX, and grand nieces, Alex and Julia Fowler; and nephew, Cooper McKee and spouse Mary of Allen, TX, and grand nieces, Kelly McKee Davis and spouse Houston, Carrie McKee and daughter Raven, and Carolyn McKee and daughters Tori, Sienna, and Sierra; cousins, Dan and Connie Massie of Germantown, TN, and their family; cousin Betty Jane and William C Johnson of St. Petersburg, FL; niece Sherill and spouse Bob Stewart of Round Rock, TX, and grand nephew, Clark and spouse Patricia; niece, Lanell Hays and spouse Rick Friedman of Los Angeles, CA; niece, Nancy Crist Fairchild of Atlanta, GA, and great niece, Elizabeth Cervantes and spouse Jose, and sons Max and Gus, and great niece, Kate Fairchild and great nephew, Mac Fairchild and spouse Elisabeth, nephew John Crist of Atlanta, GA, and great nephew Robbie Crist and spouse Nena, and great niece Mary Harlan Haskins and spouse Patrick and children Aidan and Jace; niece JoAnne Crist of Dallas, TX, and great nephew Tom Crist and spouse Mallory and daughter Shayna Blair.

Alice is also survived by many dear friends, helpers, and sitters, who Alice considered family over the many years she knew them. This includes Care Coordinator, Shirley Buckley, Caregivers: Phyllis McCaskill, Shirley Gordon, Tonya Moore, Vera Johnson, and Dorothy Walker, and the nurses and staff of The Orchard.

A visitation will be held from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., Sunday, September 19, 2021, at the First Baptist Church of Jackson (431 N. State St., Jackson, MS, 39201).

Funeral services will follow at 2:00pm, also at the First Baptist Church of Jackson, presiding minister, Tom Washburn, followed by a graveside service at Lakewood Funeral Home and Memorial Park (6000 Clinton Blvd, Jackson, MS, 39209). The funeral service will be live streamed via Facebook at www.facebook.com/LakewoodMemorial/

Serving as honorary pallbearers will be Clyde V. “Tad” McKee, III, Cooper McKee, Robert McKee, Kent Calhoun, Cameron Calhoun, John Kent Calhoun, Roger Fowler, Houston Davis IV, Austin Mellen, Dan Massie, Bob Stewart, Coleman Lowry, Bill Sistrunk, and Otis Johnson.

Contributions may be made in her name to the John P. and Wanda Alice Henderson Council Scholarship at the University of Mississippi. To contribute, send checks with the endowment name noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., University, MS 38655; or visit www.umfoundation.com/makeagift; or contact 662-915-5944 or umf@umfoundation.com.

Services

  • Visitation

    Sunday, September 19, 2021

  • Funeral Service

    Sunday, September 19, 2021

Memories

Alice McKee Henderson

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Kristine Howland

September 16, 2021

The Trinity University community extends our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Alice McKee Henderson.

Through her marriage to John Henderson '36, Trinity University, she joined the Trinity community and with John, came to reunions and gave generously to scholarships to make a lasting impact on young people. She and John exemplified Trinity's values of learning, service, and connection to others, honoring the potential and worth of every person.

You have our wishes for peace and comfort for you and your loved ones in the days ahead.

Kristine Howland
on behalf of the entire University community.

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY