William Rufus Henderson

September 17, 1922September 13, 2013
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William (Bill) Rufus Henderson, 90, a man who lived his life to the glory of God, passed away at the VA Hospital in Durham, NC, on September 13, 2013. Born in 1922, in Kannapolis, NC to Marion Charles and Ollie Maude Henderson, Bill, as the son of a Methodist minister, spent much of his childhood in various North Carolina towns served by his father.

He graduated from High Point College in 1943, returning to his alma mater to serve on the Board of Trustees until his death. He attended Duke University for his MBA, served on the Divinity Board and became a lifelong Dukie.

With the start of World War II, Bill enlisted in the US Marine Corps and served in the Pacific Theatre, rising to the rank of First Lieutenant. He fought in the Battle for Iwo Jima, where he was the operations officer for the 28th Regiment and was awarded the Bronze Star. At war’s end he left active duty but served 15 years in the Marine Corps Reserves, retiring as a Lt. Colonel.

Returning to North Carolina, Bill began numerous businesses in Reidsville and Burlington before he served as Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Commerce. From Raleigh, Bill purchased Bennett Advertising in High Point, then moved to Wilmington as President of the Cape Fear Corporation, the group that began the development of Bald Head Island. The residential development business brought Bill back to the Triangle area and he finished his career helping to pioneer the tremendous growth there for the next 35 years.

Bill served many civic and church organizations that included President of the NC Jaycees, Lay leader of the Western NC Conference of the United Methodist Church and was the initial Chairman of the NC Zoological Society, seeing the dream of a North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro fulfilled. He was an active member of Raleigh First Assembly.

On March 15, 1947, Bill made the second most important decision of his life, marrying Dorothy Lee Saunders and sharing life with “Dot” for 64 years. He was preceded in death by his wife and his brother Marion Charles.

Surviving are his sister, Ruth Price; daughter Faithe and husband Michael Giaquinto; son, William R. “Chip” Henderson, Jr. and wife Cindy; 10 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren; brother and sister in law, Jimmy and Wilma Jones and numerous nieces and nephews.

Visitation at Brown Wynne Funeral Home at 300 St Mary’s St, Raleigh, NC from 3:00-5:00, September 15, 2013. Bill’s homecoming service will be held at Raleigh First Assembly, 3249 Blue Ridge Road, Raleigh on Monday, September 16 at 1:00 PM. Interment will follow at Raleigh Memorial Park.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Converting Hearts Ministries, PO Box 90818, Raleigh, 27675 and BeALL For Christ, Youth Scholarship Fund, 6912 Glendower Rd., Raleigh, 27613.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16


  • Visitation Sunday, September 15, 2013
  • Homecoming Service Monday, September 16, 2013

William Rufus Henderson

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John Richey

September 16, 2013

Bill was a great man, a true gentleman and a real Christian. It was an honor to work with Bill from 1988 til 1996. He has been an inspiration ever since, and will continue to be.

Sue Greene

September 16, 2013

Mr Henderson, will be greatly missed, he was our joy to the Friday morning Bible study,I knew him for 25 years, myself working at the Marriott and him having lunch all most every day with us, love you, rest in peace

Brian Wood

September 16, 2013

Bill was an inspiration to me, and many other men, at our Friday Morning Bible Study...he will TRULY be missed. I'm sad for our loss, but I rejoice with Bill as he is now walking with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

September 15, 2013

I'm so sorry to learn of Col. Henderson's passing. I remember him as a man of honor, respect, and love. He spoke wisdom and blessing and always had a smile for everyone. I treasure his CCC testimony account of the battle at Iwo Jima and memories of our CCC Church Retreat. Faithe, Jessie, Cassie, Sydney, you have a Godly heritage to carry forward in his honor and for the Glory of God. Warmest thoughts, Love, Miss Nancy.

Alvah Ward

September 15, 2013

North Carolina has lost a true pioneer and keeper of the faith. His early contributions to economic development helped launch what is now the N.C. Department of Commerce and its world class reputation

Michael Mangum

September 15, 2013

As a young businessman in the early 80's Bill was a wonderful mentor to me. And over the years I was honored to have him as a partner and friend. Without a doubt Bill is the most optimistic and positive person I've ever met. That spirit was contagious in a good way whenever Bill came around.

The love of Christ that was in his heart (I believe) was at the core of things for Bill. It's been said one cannot give away what he does not have. In the case of Bill Henderson he shared that love abundantly and often. I will miss him dearly.

On behalf of the W.E. Mangum Family...

Billy Sutton

September 15, 2013

Bill was my employer, mentor and friend for many years and always managed to keep me focused on Jesus. I will miss him. His wisdom and kindness will be remembered by everyone he touched. My prayers go out to the family.

Wendy Banner

September 15, 2013

He was such a dear kindhearted gentleman. I'm so glad I had the privilege to meet him when Roger and I were helping with worship at Triangle Christian Fellowship many years ago. I'm so sorry for your loss. What a wonderful and godly Christian man he was.

September 14, 2013

Chip, Faithe and family - your father meant so much to those of us who support and encourage the men at Converting Hearts Ministries. Colonel Bill was loved and deeply admired as "Mentor in Chief" and the men always looked forward to his weekly visits. Even in declining health, his mind remained razor-sharp, his zeal and committment unabated...and he continued to influence many younger lives. He addressed an enthusiastic crowd at CHM's Aiken Farm revival only a couple of months ago, and I had the opportunity to visit with him for a few minutes afterwards. Such humility in a man so accomplished, yet to your father it was second nature...the mind and character of Christ. Please know how much we will miss the wisdom of this dear man, and thank you for sharing him with us!

George Sloan

Ted Brown

September 14, 2013

Bill Henderson was a fine example of a Christian man, and that of a TRUE MARINE! Bill, I know you are with us in spirit, and I know you are looking down on us! Semper Fidelis, Bill! You will always be a hero in this Marines eyes!