Former DHS principal passes away

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 7, 2004

J.R. "Bob" Henderson, 75, the principal of Demopolis High School during the successful integration of the city’s public schools, died Monday at his home.

Graveside services will be held today at 2 p.m. at Memorial Gardens.

A veteran of the Korean War, he came to Demopolis in 1960 as principal of the elementary school. He became the DHS principal in 1965 and served until 1980 when he returned to Westside Elementary School. He retired in 1990.

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In an interview with The Times in 2001, Henderson downplayed his role in the integration period (1970). It was a stressful time for the teachers and students as well as the administration of the high school, he said. There were no set guidelines to help you work through it.

Parents and students, black and white, have been the key to the success of the school system through the years. Also, "we’ve been fortunate here to have good members on the board of education and a good superintendent which made it a lot easier."

Henderson made "a great contribution to the system for a lot of years," superintendent Dr. Wesley Hill said Tuesday. He was an ambassador for public schools, helped recruit people to the school system and was instrumental in building the enrollment at Westside Elementary while he was principal there.

Hill and Henderson grew "close to each other" in their many years of working together. "He will be missed," Hill said.

Henderson was a calming influence during the integration period, Lloyd said. "He was an excellent representative for the Demopolis City School System."