Carroll Vincent Henderson, born in Munden, Kan., on May 27, 1916, passed away on Jan. 21, 2009. He left behind a legacy of community service, Christian faith, and love of family, community and country.
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A very special thank you goes to Highgate Senior Living, the nursing staff of Bozeman Deaconess Hospital and especially to Dr. Michael Vlases for his expertise and empathy throughout Carroll’s treatment.
Carroll met his beloved spouse, Vera Morey, on the playground of the country school that they both attended in Mahaska, Kan. - she was in third grade, he was in fourth. They married on Jan. 1, 1938, remaining sweethearts for 79 years. They celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary before Vera’s death.
Carroll worked his way through college as a Fuller brush man, a milkman and police officer. His father sold his prize horse so that Carroll could start college. As a new graduate, Carroll was the only married student, as well as the only father in his class. He graduated from Wichita State University with a degree in city and police administration and a second degree in business administration.
As a police officer in the 1930s, during the times of gangster Pretty Boy Floyd and the Ma Barker gang, Carroll took pride in solving a murder, saving a woman from drowning and breaking up a prostitution ring. He also took pride in medaling in running the 440 in track. He played center in basketball, and enjoyed raising hybrid ducks, ordering them through the mail. Being a rabbit judge in the 4-H fair, Carroll spent many years raising rabbits. He was an avid reader with a complete library in genealogy. With no television or radio, he read the Bible three times cover-to-cover as a child. Carroll played the trombone, but was especially noted for his beautiful tenor voice, singing in the church choir as well as at weddings and funerals.
Upon moving from Kansas to Bozeman in 1951, he has been a major contributor in the Bozeman community. He has made so many civic contributions that his imprint will live large on the city, and this valley, for all succeeding generations. To skim just the highlights, he has: been owner/manager of a Ben Franklin store; supported his wife, Vera, in her business, Vera’s Fabrics (she was twice named businessman of the year), a landmark that served the entire region for many years; was instrumental in purchasing the 417 acres upon which the hospital and the retirement home now sits, allowing for the fine medical center which we now enjoy to be built. He was a member of the Bozeman Deaconess Hospital board and was the developer and first administrator for Hillcrest Retirement Home. Carroll has been a member of the Gallatin jail committee; chairman of the Bozeman City Planning Board; and he was instrumental in the formation of the current Bozeman city-county planning board, volunteering his time as city-county planner until the first city planner was hired in 1971.
Carroll was on the Bozeman Deaconess Foundation; vice president of the Bozeman Chamber of Commerce, receiving the Guy Sperry Award for Chamber of Commerce and community service; a member of Bozeman Investment Group; a member of the Bozeman Noon Rotary Club since 1951, twice honored as a Paul Harris Fellow, Rotarian of the Year, and was song leader for seven years; a licensed real estate broker, construction contractor and developer; a founding member of the Gallatin Association of Realtors; been on the MSU President’s Council; on the Sunset Hills cemetery board; a member of the Museum of the Rockies; elected to the Bozeman city study commission in 1994; organizer and chairman of the Sons of the American Revolution in Montana; chairman of the Montana Huguenot Society; lay minister in the Methodist Church; and was member of the board of directors for the West Coast region of the American Red Cross.
Carroll was recently awarded the Citizenship Award for DAR and received the prestigious Points of Light award by the office of the President of the United States on Sept. 18, 2001, a day especially set aside for him for a lifetime of volunteerism. Carroll gave generously of his time to establish the Boys and Girls Club of Southwest Montana, sitting on its board and donating innumerable hours. Believing strongly that the youth are our future, he and Vera donated the land for the club to build on. Carroll was instrumental in the development of Highland Boulevard, Kagy Boulevard and 19th Avenue.
In 1964, Carroll was asked by the Small Business Administration to start a Senior Corps of Retired Executives, known as SCORE, in Bozeman. It was a then-new program of retired and mature active businessmen and women who advised small businesspeople that needed assistance in managing or starting a new business. SCORE is now a national program of the Small Business Administration. Carroll was awarded a commendation plaque in 1999 for 35 years of service, the longest in the United States.
Carroll was a man of vision, integrity and unconditional love, both for his family and his country. He will be sorely missed. His grandmother put it aptly when she wrote him this poem in 1931:
My dear Carroll,
Deep down in my heart
I wish for you
Hopes fulfilled and dreams come true
and that no matter where you fare
God will keep you in his care
In the wish of your Grandma,
Bertha E. Henderson
Carroll is preceded in death by his beloved wife, Vera; a son, 1st Lt. Hal Kent Henderson, U.S. Air Force; son-in-law, Ron Switzer, MSgt/USAFR; great-granddaughter, Josephine Switzer; and sister, Mona Kessinger.
He is survived by three children: retired Col. Kathleen Switzer, U.S. Army, J.D., a federal judge, of Salt Lake City; Dr. Sharon (Dr. Gerald, retired colonel, U.S. Air Force) Erickson of Bozeman; and Beth (John) Wallace, RT AART RM, of Bozeman; his grandchildren: Sherry (Kimball, MSgt/USAFR) Rowe of Taylorsville, Utah; Col. Kendall (Lisa) Switzer, Montana Air National Guard, of Bozeman; Col. Doug (René) Switzer, U.S. Marine Corps, of Renton, Wash.; Arthur Erickson of Austin, Texas; Amanda (Thomas Shoenborn) Erickson of Eugene, Ore.; Eric Erickson of Bozeman; Lisa (Lee) Nelson of Bozeman; Rachel Lily Henderson, and Aaron Henderson, both of Bozeman; great-grandchildren: Kendra (Tyler) Tucker, Travis Switzer, Heidi Switzer, Ticer Nelson, Maranda Nelson, and Braden Nelson, all of Bozeman; John Rowe of Salt Lake City; and Calvin Switzer of Renton, Wash.; daughter-in-law, Margo Henderson; and sister, Leah (Victor) Wall of Clay Center, Kan.
A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 31, at the Bozeman United Methodist Church.
Memorials in honor of Carroll’s life may be sent to the Boys and Girls Club of Southwest Montana, 600 Bridger Drive, Bozeman 59715; or to Bozeman United Methodist Church, 121 S. Willson Ave., Bozeman 59715.
Condolences and memories may be shared with the family at www.dahlcares.com.
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle from Jan. 25 to Jan. 30, 2009