Bill Henson, lifelong Mississippian, true southern gentleman, and beloved family man, passed away peacefully at the North Mississippi Medical Center on Tuesday from complications following surgery. He was 90 years old.
Starting with his graduation from Dumas High School, he forged an ambitious, successful life, always rooted in Mississippi and his family. First working as an appraiser for the Mississippi State Highway Department, he went on to become a successful executive for Prudential Insurance. Through his active business life, though, he maintained the primacy of family, and the best of southern values. In 1995 he retired from Prudential to begin a life of travel, real-estate entrepreneurship, and relaxation at his beloved cabin in Ripley, Mississippi.
William Lafayette Henson was born in Dumas, Mississippi, on February 4th, 1929. His parents were farmers, and he and his brother Jerry, and his sisters Rachel and Nellie, grew up on the family farm during the Great Depression, with all the hardship that implies. Mr. Henson maintained close, loving relationships with his siblings until his death.
After high school, Mr. Henson enrolled at Mississippi State University to study business, with the intent of creating an easier life for his children. Upon graduation from State, he was promptly drafted into the United States Army. Mr. Henson served as a radioman with the 3rd Infantry Division in Korea, at the height of hostilities. He rarely related his experiences in war, as do most who serve our country in time of need.
When he returned to Mississippi, he taught school for a brief time,and then went to work for the Mississippi Highway Department as an appraiser. His skills at that that position brought him to the attention of the Prudential Insurance Company, where he completed his active professional life. He rose through the ranks at Prudential, eventually becoming a regional executive overseeing business activities in three states.
Retirement in 1995 did not mean the end of activity for Bill. Much the opposite - he loved work in all its forms. Even during his years as an executive at Prudential, he kept a small garden wherever he lived so that he could stay close to the earth. He continued to conduct business in real estate, to enjoy tending his garden, and to stay active outdoors, at home and at his retreat in Ripley. But now he also found time to travel, and loved seeing the world even though his heart remained in Mississippi. Bill never missed a Bulldogs game, wherever he may have been.
Bill was devoted member of his community. He was long a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Tupelo, and of Civitan International, for which he served a time as President of his local chapter.
Bill Henson made friends wherever he went. His warm heart and sincere gentlemanliness shone like a beacon, and inspired kindness in all he knew. His genuine affection and caring for his family never faded and, rather, strengthened with time. All those who knew him understand that they shall rarely meet as kind and gentle a soul as Bill Henson. Bill was the best man that many will ever know.
William Henson is survived by his wife, Betty, his children Joe Henson (wife, Sandra) and Jill Richey (husband, Larry), his brother Jerry Henson (wife, Johnnie) and his sister Rachel
Anderson, and many loving and adoring nephews, nieces, step-children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He will be sorely missed by them all.
Funeral services honoring the life of Mr. Henson will be at 11 AM on Saturday, August 31, at New Prospect Presbyterian Church. Burial will follow in the New Prospect Cemetery. Visitation will be 5 - 8 PM on Friday, August 30, at The Ripley Funeral Home.
The Ripley Funeral Home is honored to serve the Henson family and invites you to share memories.
To send flowers to William Lafayette Henson's family, please visit our floral section.