POINT RICHMOND, Calif. - The recent passing of Bill Taylor and my impending 70th birthday in July have been a one-two punch to the belly in thinking about mortality. And punches to the belly - where a month ago I had two hernia repairs done - are very, very unwelcome, thank you very much. Anyone else notice that all that I seem to be able to post on this Class of '66 website are details about which classmate has just passed away? Jaysus!
This past winter I caught a cold (and probably pneumonia) that almost did me in. Same thing happened two years ago. But my emergency room doctor, (Doogie Howser's older brother) used an expression that my wife Sylvia is soooooo sick of hearing me repeat. It does get a good laugh from my kids and friends when I throw it out there. I was in the ER getting the once over with symptoms of flu - high fever, some nausea, aches, pains. After nearly buying the farm two years ago with a bout of pneumonia, I don't take any chances with respiratory stuff. After being poked and prodded, the doctor shoved a long cotton-swab tipped instrument into my sinus cavity that went so far up I thought he was trying to take a brain cell sample. (Hold the brain sample jokes for the moment.) At that point, I thought he had to be done. But after retracting the probe, he pushed and prodded some more and then ordered an EKG. Say what? EKG? I bristled slightly, given that he could see on his computer I had had full heart workup done just a few months before when I had landed in a different ER with chest pains. (Acid-reflux can be a real bitch, friends.) I passed all the heart tests with flying colors. But in a move no doubt taught at medical schools, he put his hand on my arm and very paternally explained he really had to do the EKG. "After all," he said, "well, you know, a man of your age?" A man of my age. Doesn't that about about sum it up! So stay healthy classmate amigos - as healthy as you can. And anytime to you need a get-out-of-jail-free card to avoid something? Just say, "You know, a man (or woman) of my age..." Did I say stay healthy? I did. Well, one more reminder can't hurt.
WATERVLIET - Class of '66 Classmate Bill Taylor passed away in April, apparently of a heart attack. Bill was 69. According to his younger brother Pete, no services are planned and as per Bill's wishes he was cremated. Bill was not doing well - health-wise - and was living alone at the time of his death. That's all the details we have at the moment.
ROCHESTER, NY - Southwestern Central Class of '66 classmate Chris Henderson passed away January 23. His obituary (listed below) says it was "following a lengthy battle with cancer." Chris was the editor of The Trojan (school newspaper) our senior year. And if I remember correctly, he was instrumental in convincing faculty advisor Calvin Hanson to allow John Rupp and I to write a gossip column called "The Eavesdroppers." Rupp and I had a great time writing it, though more than once we were threatened with bodily injury for what we had posted about some goings on at the Lakewood Drive-In. Chris could have nixed that column at the outset. But he seemed to have a rebellious side to him that didn't show very often, except in quiet ways.
My other memory of Chris - one that still makes me smile, was during some kind of end of the year show that the class put on. In the skit, Chris played Tom Priester. At the time, then Mr. Priester got a ration of ribbing all the time for teaching girls' PE. On one side of the stage was a curtain with bare arms waving and voices saying, "Oh Mr. Priester, Mr. Priester, I need a towel, please!!!!" The arms and voices, of course, meant to represent the girls' shower room - and just another day in the locker room with the high school girls in his PE classes. Chris came on stage from the opposite side, wearing a blindfold and baseball cape, walking tenuously all the across until he clumsily tossed the towels to the waving arms. But when he turned and walked back across the stage, you see his blindfold only covered ONE EYE. And as Chris walked back across the stage - with the audience just roaring with laughter - Chris had a grin on his face I can still remember. Rest in peace Judge Chris. Rest in peace. ===========================
Christopher Charles Henderson, formerly of Indian Head, Maryland and St. Thomas USVI, passed away in Rochester, NY on January 23, 2018 following a lengthy battle with cancer. He was born in New Rochelle, New York on May 27, 1948. Chris had a great sense of humor and enjoyed playing practical jokes on family and friends.
You always knew he was up to something by the twinkle in his eyes. He loved travelling to various parts of the world, spending his winters in St. Thomas, keeping up with political news and the stock market and was always willing to share his opinions. He is predeceased by his parents, Charles F. and Jeanne R. Henderson, and his favorite aunt, Frances Henderson. Chris is survived by siblings Candace Larson of Lakewood, NY and Timothy P. (Susan) Henderson Sr. of Pittsford, NY as well as nieces and nephews Kerstin (John) Kenty of Clearwater, Florida, Shannon (Stan Horan) Larson of Kona, Hawaii and Deirdre (Blake) Luvon of Twisp, Washington, T. Parker (Jessica) Henderson Jr. of Hilliard, Ohio, Christopher (Frances Miller) Henderson of Chicago, Illinois, and Laura (Matthew) Dudek of Charlotte, North Carolina. In addition, he has nine great nieces and nephews. Chris is a 1966 graduate of Southwestern Central High School (Jamestown, NY), received his BA from Dartmouth College in 1970 followed by his attainment of a JD degree from Georgetown University Law Center (1973). Upon graduation, he was the law clerk for the highly respected Judge Herbert Stern in New Jersey. Chris then served in the US Navy JAG Corps from 1975 -1979.
Chris was a partner in the law firm of Digges & Henderson in LaPlata, Maryland and was named and elected Associate Judge in the Seventh Judicial Circuit for Charles County from 1996 until his retirement in 2008.
Of note, he presided over the longest criminal trial in Charles County history. Chris was a member of the District of Columbia Bar, State Court of Military Appeals Bar, Maryland State Bar Association and Charles County State Bar (President 1994). He was also a Director of the Charles County Freedom Landing (1990 - 1996) as well as Mattawoman Creek Art Center (1996).
A Celebration of Life will be held in LaPlata, Maryland with his remains being scattered at a later date in his beloved St. Thomas. Memorials can be made to the Mattawoman Creek Art Center (www.mattawomanart.org) of which Chris was an avid supporter.
Michael J. Fitzgerald has been a journalist for 40 years, working as a writer and editor for newspapers, magazines and web publications. In 2014 he published the novel, "The Fracking War." In 2015, he published his second novel, "Fracking Justice." He writes or contributes to five blogs. He and his wife Sylvia Fox are the owners and principal partners in *subject2change Media, a multi-media firm involved in print, video and broadcast. He writes a weekly column, "Write On" for the daily 'Finger Lakes Times' newspaper in Geneva, NY. He was a journalism professor at CSU Sacramento from 1986 to 2011 teaching Newswriting, Column Writing and Magazine Writing.