Dr. Jessica Wolf Henderson

October 17, 1951March 8, 2021

Dr. Jessica Henderson, also known as Judy Davis, of Kokomo, Indiana died of pancreatic cancer on March 8, 2021. She died at home in Kokomo surrounded by her family.

She was born on October 17, 1951, to Barbara Pickering and Walter Davis in Kokomo.

Jessica graduated from Western High School in 1969. She earned her BS in education from Ball State University in 1973. She went on to earn her MS in Nutrition from California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo and her PhD in Public Health from Oregon State University. She is the editor of a textbook on breast cancer.

Jessica loved teaching and began her career as a high school teacher in California. She went on to become full professor of public health at Western Oregon University where she won the Professor of the Year award. She also taught public health at Indiana University Kokomo from 2012 – 2018, so she could be closer to her family.

Family was most the important thing to her. She enjoyed traveling, having adventures and going on long hikes with her mother, Barbara Pickering and sister, Dr. Sandy Davis. With Sandy, she coauthored and published a paper on the effects of contamination from a factory in Ellwood, IN.

Most of all, she enjoyed spending time with her beloved son, Silas. She and Silas enjoyed long talks, homemade meals, watching movies, and playing board games together. She enjoyed gardening and sharing the organic fruits and vegetables with her family.

Jessica loved her students and shared her passion for breast cancer advocacy with them. On twelve different occasions she took groups to Washington, DC to be civilian lobbyists for breast cancer research funding. She and several of her students got to have brunch with Dr. Jill Biden at the Vice President’s house and met with the First Lady to discuss breast cancer issues.

She also took groups of students to the Komen Race for the Cure in Indianapolis so they could experience grassroots advocacy.

In addition to being a dedicated professor, she was famous for her astoundingly large collection of tennis shoes.

Because of Covid, no visitation or viewing is planned.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to a fund for Silas Henderson at PO Box 6357, Kokomo, IN 46904.


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Dr. Jessica Wolf Henderson

have a memory or condolence to add?

Ashley Wright

April 15, 2021

Dear Aunt Jessica,

It's taken me a long time to accept the reality of what has happened. In my mind, your spirit is very much still with us. I am so grateful to your friends and students who have left memories and photos on the memorial website. It's so impactful to see just how much you've impacted your community everywhere you've been! Even in your last moments, you were thinking of how you could continue to help and impact others. I can't thank you enough for the laughs, the advice, and the memories. You will be missed by so many people, but in that grieving your spirit will live on. Positive vibes forever, you will always be remembered and a major part of the Wolf Women pack.

I Love you,

Lori Palmer

March 22, 2021

I met Dr. Henderson in graduate school at Western Oregon University in 2008. She was one of my very favorite professors. Her passion and excitement for both her students and the field of Health Education was an inspiration. I still think of her often, all these years later. The photo is from the 2008 Academic Excellence showcase at WOU. We were trying to get photos of Dr. Henderson giving us our certificates for the showcase and couldn't stop laughing. I learned so much from her.

Sending love to her family and friends during this difficult time.

Ghadah Alshuwaiyer

March 18, 2021

I met Jessica in 2016 when I came for an interview at Indiana University Kokomo. She took me on tour around Kokomo, and we got the chance to take pictures with Old Ben. I will never forget her excitement and joy that day.

She was definitely more than a colleague. She was a role model that always showed me that being kind, caring, and compassionate is the way to go. She was an inspiration to so many of us, including myself. She taught us to do what we do, not because we have to, but because we enjoy it. She was simply a great friend that I respected, admired, and loved dearly.

I am so sorry for your loss, Silas! Please know that she will never be forgotten.

Daryl Thomas

March 17, 2021

I met Jessica at Oregon State University when we were both in graduate school. She was finishing her PhD and I was finishing my MPH. Then we were colleagues at Western Oregon University.
She was so committed to teaching and to her students. She acted with integrity and perseverance at work. She also showed her commitment and love for her family, especially her son Silas.
She was the sort of person you would always remember, even after many years.
Oh, I am so sad to hear the news, I know Jessica will be missed.
Love and Blessings to her family and close friends, sincerely,

Jean Hutchinson

March 13, 2021

I met Jessica in 2003 when we both worked for the state of Oregon in Medical Assistance Programs. She was my mentor when I first joined the unit, and was very helpful and welcoming. She was talented at teaching, research, writing, and storytelling, and was passionate about advocacy for research and treatment of breast cancer. She was equally devoted to her family, especially her son, Silas. We enjoyed yurt camping and hiking while talking about what was going on in our lives— we called it “walk therapy.” I admired her courage, spirit, and perseverance when life handed her lemons. I treasure memories of all the interactions I had with Jessica. She was a great listener, and I knew that I could always count on her support when I encountered a bump in the road. She was a very kind and giving person, and was always ready with a smile and encouraging, complimentary words. She was a vibrant soul and a wonderful friend.

Christina Downey

March 13, 2021

Dr. Jessica Henderson was a wonderful colleague, impressive scholar, inspiring teacher, and tireless advocate for many causes. She will be deeply missed but her legacy is alive in the thousands of minds she enlightened and hearts she moved during her lifetime. My condolences on the loss of this very special person.

Angela Coppola

March 13, 2021

Jessica was a caring colleague and devoted public health professor. She dedicated her time to uplifting others and making us all better people and health educators, and the teaching and learning just came along with it. Through her advocacy for public health and her students, she taught and we learned. It is evident in the photo shared below. I'm not in it, but it perfectly depicts how she advocated and had fun, and that was when she shined and so did we. Personally, she welcomed me and supported me whenever I needed help (even watched my rambunctious mini-poodle/chiweenie mix, Artie, when I needed help). My favorite story was how she said he took turns sleeping with different people but loved spending most of the night cuddled with Silas. Silas-you did not know your mother as a professor and colleague, but please know that her legacy and dedication lives on through her students and colleagues who respected and cared for her dearly. Please email me at for more pictures/memories.

With love,

Angela Coppola

Amanda Smith

March 12, 2021

Jessica was a beacon of light in my life. When I was at my lowest, she believed in me. She encouraged me to believe in myself everyday. I never got the chance to tell her how she changed my life. She taught more than just academics. She taught integrity, kindness, and how to always show up. She always showed up for me and I will always think of her when I am in need of strength and guidance. Thank you Dr. Jessica Henderson for unapologetically sharing yourself with the world. We are better because of you.

Dana Dudle

March 12, 2021

I only know Dr. Jessica Henderson by reputation and through stories but there never was a sister who was loved and respected more. Her fierce dedication to her work and adoration and support for her family was inspiring to people she never even met.

John Hughey

March 12, 2021

Jessica was a special person. She could light up a room, especially a classroom that's why she was the 1st person we hired for our new health science degree. She exceeded our expectations. Jessica was family oriented and student centered. A tirelessly professor doing what she loved; being with family and educating people about public health. Her accomplishments were many, but most of all she was a kind caring person. Prayers to her family.