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Joseph and Edyth Henderson

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Joseph and Edyth Henderson Obituary
Joseph and Edyth Henderson
November 8, 1941 - June 30, 2013
March 17, 1945 - June 30, 2013
Joseph William Henderson (Joe), 71, transcended this life with his beloved wife of 45 years, Edyth May Henderson (Edy), 68, on Sunday, June 30, 2013 in Aptos, CA. They were devoted spouses, parents, grandparents, family members and friends.
The couple met in the 1960's during a San Jose State vs. Stanford football game. They fell quickly in love and opted to elope to Nevada where they could celebrate their union as an interracial couple and avoid the stress that a traditional wedding might have caused during that era. They were married on December 14, 1967 and remained committed to each other until they departed this Earth for new heavenly ventures. They lived in San Jose, CA where they raised two children before moving to Aptos, CA in 1980.
Joe was born on November 8, 1941 in Mobile, AL to Johnnie Mae and Joseph Henderson. He graduated summa cum laude from the Heart of Mary High School in Mobile, AL before moving out West to Pasadena, CA where he was the first African-American to graduate from Pasadena City College's Surveying Department. He was drafted into the Army, and stationed in Germany and at Fort Ord. Joe later enrolled at San Jose State, where he studied Civil Engineering. He led a successful career as an engineer with the City of San Jose's Airport Division.
Those of you who knew Joe were treated to a most precious gift. He was a kind and gentle person who was generous with his friends and family, and he freely shared his love, understanding, and enthusiasm for life. He was an avid reader, jazz connoisseur, gardener, golfer and craftsman. Joe lived with Edy in the Aptos area for over 30 years where they met many of their life-long friends. The memories he leaves will be as strong and lasting as his faith in God.
Edy was born on March 17, 1945 in San Luis Obispo, CA to Grace and G. Homer Hamlin. She was named after her paternal grandmother, from whom she inherited her charm and sense of humor. She graduated as one of the top students in her class at San Leandro High School, then enrolled in the University of Redlands where she earned degrees in Math and Spanish while advancing her studies in classical music. She eventually supplemented her career by playing violin with the San Jose Symphony.
Edy was the first female computer programmer at IBM. Her career as a software engineer continued with positions at NASA Ames Research Center and Sun Microsystems. After completely recovering from lymphoma, Edy was able to resume her career as Vice President of WAIS Technology, and retired as a Director at America Online.
During retirement, Edy devoted her life to music, education, holistic living, and community activism. She wrote and published a book called "Vegan Recipes from the Heart". She also published two articles in Passenger Train Journal. In addition, Edy spent countless hours volunteering and serving on local boards and fundraising committees. She chaired the Aptos chapter of Relay for Life, a division of the American Cancer Society and is the 2013 Garden of Hope Honoree. She also served on a local Theater Board and was President elect of the Santa Cruz County Symphony Board where she helped lead a nation-wide search for their new conductor.
Both Edy and Joe were rail enthusiasts, naturalists, and philanthropists. Life-long dreams to visit Machu Picchu and the Vienna Symphony in Austria were fulfilled over the past several years. They were sports enthusiasts who regularly traveled by train to attend San Francisco Giants baseball games and Oakland Raiders football games. They loved spending time with their grandchildren and were devoted to their close family and friends. They were a pleasant, soft-spoken couple who lived their lives with integrity, grace, and humor.
Joe and Edy are survived by their daughter Marlene Henderson, and two grandsons Alonzo and Joseph Henderson. Other survivors include their son, James Henderson; Joe's sister, Kay Brewer; devoted friend of over 50 years, Sam Parraz; and Edy's sisters Patricia J. Lockett, and Sylvia A. Blishak. They are each survived by several nieces, nephews, grand-nieces, grand-nephews, and dear friends.
A "Celebration of Life" service will be held at the Cabrillo College Crocker Theater in Aptos, CA on Tuesday, August 27, 2013 at 1:00pm. In lieu of flowers, the family is suggesting that donations be made to the Joe and Edy Henderson Endowment Fund established in their honor at the Santa Cruz County Symphony. Checks may be mailed to the Symphony at 307 Church St., Santa Cruz, CA 95060.

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Published in San Jose Mercury News on Aug. 4, 2013
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