Dr Thelma (Mullins) Henderson (2001)
One of the Eastern Cape’s great humanitarians, Dr Thelma Henderson , has died.
Henderson, wife of former Rhodes University vice-chancellor Dr Derek Henderson , died suddenly in hospital in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday night.
Born in 1933 , she was widely acclaimed for the many good works she performed, particularly in the Eastern Cape and also nationally.
She came to Grahamstown in 1975 when her husband was appointed vice-chancellor and brought with her phenomenal organisational skills honed by her stint as the dean of a women's residence at Wits University.
After her arrival in Grahamstown, Henderson was recognised, with those who worked with her, for assisting over 80000 needy people and for raising over R27 million to fund many projects including the Grahamstown and District Relief Association ( Gadra) and the Centre for Social Development (CSD), which she founded.
She received many awards for her exceptional contribution to social development and education in South Africa, including the Order of the Baobab in bronze from the South African government, the Solus Medal for Meritorious Service to the Community, and the South African Teachers’ Association Centennial Award for Outstanding Contribution to Education .
Tributes poured in yesterday.
Executive director of the Grahamstown Foundation Louisa Clayton yesterday said Henderson had played an “enormously positive and proactive role” in the affairs of the Grahamstown Foundation, serving on the foundation’ s council from 1982 until 2004.
A close colleague and friend of Henderson, Diana Hornby, described her as a “formidable force in the social development field” nationally and internationally.
“She fearlessly championed the rights of the poor and never took no for an answer. Many of us community workers learnt at her feet and her legacy will live on as long as we all carry on the work she introduced us to and compassionately involved herself in.”
Close friend Professor Brian Gaybba described her as a “most extraordinary woman” who had raised millions for educational and other projects. “She won the hearts of so many people,” he said.
Henderson leaves her husband, two daughters, Margaret Keeton and Angela Marriner, and her grandchildren.
She will be remembered by the many whose lives she touched. - By ADRIENNE CARLISLE
Daily Dispatch OBITUARY: 27/03/2009