George Raymond Henderson died on Thursday, December 7, 2017, of complications after an unexpected open-heart surgery at East Alabama Medical Center. He was 82 years old.
His family will remember him as a loving, devoted father who once wrote in a letter that “One of my main goals in life has been to provide the opportunities for my children to have a better life than I.” Ray was born in 1935 as the eldest son of George and Nancy Henderson in Bells, Tenn. He attended Auburn University on an ROTC Scholarship, and was Treasurer in the Lambda Chi fraternity. Upon graduation, he entered military service as an officer in the United States Navy, where he served four years on an aircraft carrier in the Atlantic. His first civilian job was as an accountant with Price Waterhouse.
Ray moved his family to Opelika in 1964 to take a chance on a new business venture called Diversified Products, based on the concept of a new plastic-enclosed barbell design to encourage fitness training in the home. As the company’s first Secretary and Treasurer, he helped guide the highly successful enterprise through its first several years in business before achieving his dream of establishing his own accounting firm in downtown Opelika.
An avid golfer, Ray was a founding member of the Saugahatchee Country Club and an active member of the Opelika Kiwanis Club. After retirement, he provided transportation services to Village Friends Village Values, a non-profit that supports the elderly in the Auburn-Opelika area, and taught woodworking skills to recovering addicts.
Ray loved history and had a lifelong commitment to learning, whether it was reading the entire 11 volumes of “The Story of Civilization” by William and Ariel Durant or attending the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Auburn University in his seventies. He attends the First United Methodist Church in Opelika.
He is survived by his son, George Raymond “Ray” Henderson, Jr.; his daughter Genevieve “Gene” Henderson Anton; his son, John Gregory “Greg” Henderson; daughter, Elizabeth Henderson Taylor; his sister, Jerry Fitz-Randolph; and five grandchildren.
Visitation was held on Sunday, December 10, from 1 – 2 p.m. at Jeffcoat-Trant Funeral Home, followed by a memorial service at 2 p.m. with Rev. Robyn Wilson officiating. Private burial to be held in Tennessee at a time to be determined.
Jeffcoat-Trant Funeral Home & Crematory directied.