Via Don Elliott at the Franklin Barry Gallery, art collectors John and Sara Campbell sent me two small photos they took of their friend “Big John” Henderson during events at the Highland Golf and Country Club in Indianapolis. John C. wrote me this in early February:
“John Henderson (or "Big John") as everyone calls him, has worked 13 years as the dining room manager at the club. He is one of our most beloved employees. He is from St. Louis and has one sister, Darlene. He has gone back to St. Louis and his sister is caring for him. He probably has only a few days left. The cancer hit him very quickly. He worked right up until before Christmas. He is about 6'4, maybe 220-30lbs. A very big, strong man. Big hands, yet long fingers with a sort of delicacy; long, muscular arms.
He worked out a lot, kept a Bible in his podium and regularly attended Church. While he was wild one in his youth, he settled down, found Jesus and was very happy with that. He never had a cross word about anyone and always looked for the best in people. He worked constantly. Had two other jobs a few years back, but cut back to just the club and one other later. Children loved him. He was always taking care of them, getting them ice cream and sodas. He loved being around them, probably because he didn't have any.
There was always a big closed mouth smile on his face. His voice was deep and so was his love of people. WE were his family. We went to see him last Monday in St. Louis. He'd lost about 30 lbs was curled up in bed and only came around slightly for a few minutes. It was a very hard visit for us.
Just to give you an idea how much he was thought of: even though he has insurance, several of the members got together and in a week and a half, raised over $60,000 to make sure he had the best of care. He always wore a black vest, black bow tie and short sleeve white shirt (even in winter). We are renaming the dining room in his honor and they wanted a portrait of him to hang in there so he'd always be with us.”
“Big John” Henderson died on Tuesday morning, February 10, 2009. He was 52 years old.
The recent follow-up from John Campbell (all printed with his permission):
“There were 40 people from Highland who traveled on a charter bus to St. Louis for John's funeral. It was a beautiful service and very touching. As there were many families with children and seniors in Florida who could not attend, we wanted a Memorial Service at the club. Originally we were looking at March but decided on April 19th so as many members as possible could attend. We will also have his family over. The club service will be closure to all of us. Our club is a family place with some of the kindest, most giving people you could imagine. We expect around 300 people to attend. Once again, I can't thank you enough for all your help. I'll let you know how the service goes.”
Portrait of "Big" John Henderson
17" x 13"
oil painting on canvas 2009
by Kelly Borsheim
Collection of the
Highland Golf and Country Club