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Alma S. Henderson


1920 - 2015 Obituary Condolences
Alma S. Henderson Obituary
Alma S. Henderson, age 95 of Athens, Georgia transitioned to Glory peaceably in her sleep on December 16, 2015 in her home. She was preceded in death by her husband, George, and brothers, William, Walter, and Roger. Alma will be dearly missed by her family and many friends, including those, who in essence became her second family, at the Athens, Georgia Chinese Christian Church where she worshiped every week in her later years. She is survived by brothers, John Siewert of La Verne, California and Arthur Siewert of Penryn, California along with twelve nieces and nephews of various far off places in the United States and Europe, and a host of grand nieces and grand nephews.

Visitation will be 6:00-8:00 PM, Friday, January 15, 2016 at the Bernstein Funeral Home, 3195 Atlanta Highway, Athens, Georgia. Funeral services will be at 1:00 PM, Saturday, January 16 in the Athens Chinese Christian Church, 410 Oakwood Drive, Bogart, Georgia. A brief graveside service will follow at the Evergreen Memorial Park near the Bernstein Funeral Home.

Alma was born March 12, 1920 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Early in life she displayed an adventurous spirit. Her father loved to tell the story of Alma's attempt at an early start to her formal schooling: One morning it was discovered that Alma, then age four, was missing. Since she often tagged after her older brothers, her father went to their school and asked teachers if a small stray girl had been seen wandering around. Yes, they had and her brothers said it was ok to put her in the kindergarten class where Alma was happily participating in the activities.

Before she was ten Alma and her older brothers lost their mother to cancer. Her father, remarried and three more brothers would eventually be added to the family. Also before she was ten Alma had an experience that would shape her outlook for life. The family regularly attended church and one Sunday young and old of the church met together to hear a missionary from Asia tell of the great needs for missionaries in underserved parts of the world. The missionary then asked those who were willing to go as missionaries if God would call them to raise their hands. No one raised their hand. Later in her Sunday school class of young girls, Alma told her teacher she would have raised her hand if she was older. The Sunday school teacher encouraged Alma to decide right then and there to be available to go as a missionary when she grew up.

Alma's father was a building construction contractor in Milwaukee where business was booming in the mid 1920s. But with the late 1920s depression business dried up and the bank foreclosed on the two mortgaged apartment buildings of her parents. To survive the family left their comfortable home with all the latest electrical appliances and moved to a rundown farm in Michigan with a house that had no electricity, telephone, or plumbing. Alma finished her 8th grade in a one-room country school but her formal education ended there since busses were not provided for high school students. Like most girls in that remote area, she would not go to high school but continued to pitch in with unending farm chores.

At age 19 Alma ventured back to Milwaukee to live with her Aunt Lydia and Uncle Dan Siewert and find a paying job. She was active in the family church and also was a leader in a city-wide monthly Saturday youth rally sponsored by the Baptist churches. At age twenty-two, and having never attended high school, the prospects of becoming a missionary were dim at best. However, she heard about the Toccoa Falls Schools in Georgia with both a high school and Bible college on the same campus. She enrolled and by 1946 graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Education degree.

After graduation from Toccoa Falls College in 1946, Alma was married to fellow graduate George Henderson and they were appointed as missionaries by the North American Baptist Conference. By 1947 they were in central-west Africa as missionaries in the country of Cameroon. Among Alma's missionary activities was encouraging women to form their own auxiliary missionary organizations within their churches and in union with other churches. At different times she also taught in the Mission's Bible School and then taught Bible classes in the women's college started by the Mission.

After serving as missionaries for 20 years the Hendersons returned home and settled in Athens where George pursued an advanced degree in preparation to teach at the university level and Alma, among other ventures, taught in a Christian school. To help students coming to the University of Georgia from other lands, the Friendship Inn was established supported by Athens area churches and others to provide a ministry to help foreign students get settled when they first arrived in Athens. The Hendersons were also involved in interim ministries in Athens area churches. The student ministries evolved into focusing on students from China as that number began to significantly increase in Athens. Bible studies became regular meetings and that eventually led to the formation of today's Athens Chinese Christian Church.

Online condolences may be offered at www.bernsteinfuneralhome.com.

Bernstein Funeral Home and Cremation Service is in charge of arrangements. 3/12/1920 - 12/16/2015

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Published in Athens Banner-Herald on Jan. 12, 2016
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