Missing Roy already

Sallie Satterthwaite's picture

The tribe lost another of its giants last Wednesday, and we are all diminished by his passing.

Roy Henson was 81 when he was felled apparently by a massive heart attack, at home in Peachtree City.

If you wonder why you’d never heard of him, it’s just that there are only so many hats a man can wear at one time. I don’t think that any two obituaries that have published since last Wednesday had exactly the same list.

Family seems to have been the most predominant pillar of his life. He and Judy were married more than 50 years, and had three daughters who formed a most attractive real estate company and gave him the loves of his life, four grandsons and one granddaughter. And three sons-in-law, who appear to return the favor.

Roy was a competent chef and traveling companion who was the nucleus of a group of men who made annual hunting and fishing ventures to the remote corners of Alaska.

The thing that makes me the most….oh, “wistful” about losing him is that so few Peachtree City residents knew him. That may annoy people who don’t like to be identified as “new.”

It really is a marvel to many of us that there are people who have lived their lives here, ignorant of the risks developers take. No offense intended, but some of us who like to consider ourselves “pioneers” here remember when everyone knew everybody else, and have sometimes created a history for our planned city.

Our gamble paid off. The city is a success and most of its residents are glad they moved here.

But back to Roy. Add to the list, Presbyterian. He was active in the founding and building of First Presbyterian in Peachtree City.

From his roots in Banks County, where he finally extricated himself from living on a farm, to his stint in the (then) Army Air Corps as a flight engineer.

The army taught him to fly, and after the war, he took his training to the commercial airlines, Eastern, to be exact.

There he met flight attendant Judith Gilder.

All reports indicate that the marriage was a happy one.

Considering we had known the guy for 40 years, I should be brimming with Roy Henson stories. He was quite the raconteur, could hold an audience breathless, and yet I can’t fetch up a single remark to repeat to you.

Just the images. Pictures were everywhere. And the subjects of most of the photographs are dogs who smile a lot.

In the pictures, Judy was, as usual, smiling too, and so were her daughters. And that reminds me of a Henson story after all.

You’ve seen the expression that many women put on when their husbands rare back to tell war stories. The expression, complete with rolling eyes, that says, “Oh, not again, dear. We’ve all heard about your escapades in Alaska.”

When Roy launched into a story, Judy turned toward him and never took her eyes off him, smiling like she’d never heard the tale before.

Roy could always count on smiles and laughter from at least one corner of the room.

R.I.P., old friend. R.I.P.

SallieS@Juno.com