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Don Henderson, 1945-2022
Father, Sailor, Attorney, Photographer
February 4, 2022

Obituary and life story submitted by the family

onald Oliver Henderson died in his sleep early Tuesday morning, February 1, 2022 at his home in Oriental, North Carolina.

He had just returned from a trip to Mexico, where he spent a wonderful three weeks with his dear companion and soulmate Linda Larson, and friends Harry and Finola. These were but a few of the many people and places Don touched along the grand adventure that was his life.

Don & Linda (right), with friends Harry & Finola Corbett.

Don was born June 22, 1945 in Birmingham, Alabama to Oliver Henderson and Neoma Milloit Henderson. He attended Mountain Brook Elementary and Shades Valley High School in Birmingham; Battle Ground Academy in Franklin, Tennessee; followed by university at Auburn, then the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, where he earned his undergraduate degree in Business.

Don served in the United States military, receiving training as an Army Ranger. Tuscaloosa is also where he first laid eyes upon Ann Malone, from Fort Payne, Alabama, whom he soon married and remained so for 28 years. They lived in Birmingham, where Don was a professional photographer and also began a successful magazine in 1985 with Ann called Creative Needle. They had two children, Oliver and Halle.

In 1985 Don earned his Doctor of Jurisprudence from Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law and passed the Alabama Bar. In 1986 they moved family and business, along with several beloved animals, to Lookout Mountain, Georgia, where Don was able to pursue many of his lifelong loves: building, planning, gardening, and learning.

Another thing he began to learn from atop this mountain was how to sail. In 1990 he bought his first yacht, Windancer, which he sailed from Florida throughout the Caribbean, giving Ann, Oliver, and Halle treasured vacation memories. While living in several other landlocked cities in the South (Birmingham, Alabama; Chattanooga, Tennessee; and Dandridge, Tennessee), and paying the bills as an attorney for the State of Tennessee, he began in earnest to plan his circumnavigation.

After years of hard work, thousands of miles in the car, and indispensable support from those around him, Don and his S/V Minerva embarked from Maine in 2010, voyaging through the Panama Canal, along the coast of Ecuador and crossing the Atlantic to the South Pacific.

Don celebrates crossing the equator during the circumnavigation aboard SV Minerva

He enjoyed a prolonged stay in Sydney, Australia before his passage around the tip of South Africa, returning to the United States in 2013, eventually settling in Oriental, North Carolina, on the Pamlico Sound.

Don loved Oriental and took great pride in being a member of the community there. He was Vice President of the Theater Board and never missed a festival or event in town if he could help it. He lovingly labored to make Oriental’s Old Town Hall, which he bought in 2014, his own unique home, often saying he was the “caretaker” of this historic property. He hosted many gatherings and parties there, and he felt the town’s love and support through his final years (and a few hurricanes, too). His family appreciates the love, care, and patience friends and neighbors showed him.

Don smiling at life, onboard SV Minerva

Fine wine, a good book, music, painting, staying active and busy—these were a few of Don’s favorite things. He loved many a cat over his lifetime. His most recent cat, Sammi, was his constant companion and seems to be searching for Don inside his home and out. Don always had a project going, always of his own design, and was undaunted by complexity, to say the least. As his lifelong friend Red Robinson said about how Don approached challenges, “I can do anything…just watch my dust.”

Don was preceded in death by his grandmother Victoria Amelia Galatas Milloit and grandfather Henry Milloit of St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana; father Oliver Henderson; mother Neoma Milloit Henderson; and brother Harvey Hobbs Henderson. Survivors include his son Donald Oliver Henderson, Jr. (Abigail Mitchell); daughter Halle Malone Henderson; grandson Arthur Stephen Henderson; nieces Jeanne Henderson Coull and Ellen Henderson in San Diego, California; and niece Shannon Scruggs Campagna in Alexandria, Virginia.

Funeral services Saturday, February 5, 2:00p at St. Thomas Church in Oriental, NC.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Pamlico Animal Welfare Society, www.pamlicopaws.net or Oriental’s Old Theater, www.oldtheater.org.

Posted Friday February 4, 2022 by Keith N. Smith

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