Ted Morrow Henry, a favorite son of Selma, died Tuesday, October 21, 2014, dying as he lived—graciously. He leaves his family and a legion of friends to celebrate his life, appreciate his legacy and treasure his memory. His race was well run with a brave and beautiful finish.
Born in 1938 to John Davis and Evelyn Sherrer Henry, Mr. Henry, was reared in Selma and educated in her public schools. He attended Davidson College and graduated from the University of Alabama. After a stint in the U. S. Army, his career was spent in the family business, Henry Brick Company, from which he recently retired leaving Generation Three of his family to carry on the tradition of working and being involved in Selma.
Known for his business acumen, Mr. Henry was nationally acknowledged a leader in the brick industry; he led the Brick Institute of America for three years as chairman, the only person to fill that position for that long. He represented Alabama as a director of the National Association of Manufacturers, serving on that board for ten years. “Brickyard,” the magazine of the Clemson Brick Forum and the National Brick Research Center, called him “THE Gentleman of the Brick Industry,” an accolade testifying to his impeccable Southern manners.
Mr. Henry was completely vested in Selma’s business community. He was Chairman of the Board of Peoples Bank and Trust Company, serving as a director of that board for forty years. He was a director of the Business Council of Alabama for twenty years, serving as a member of its executive committee and as a district chairman. An enthusiastic graduate of Class III of Leadership Alabama, he later served as a director on its board. In 2011 Ted Henry was inducted into The Alabama Business Hall of Fame, an organization which “honors, preserves and perpetuates the names and outstanding accomplishments of business personalities who have brought lasting fame to the State of Alabama,” a well-deserved honor establishing his legacy as a leader.
A stalwart supporter of civic and cultural organizations and initiatives, Mr. Henry said, “I feel privileged to be in the leadership role in organizations; I enjoy doing it. Someone needs to do it, and I think it is important for business leaders to serve.” He served a term as Chairman of the Board of the Selma-Dallas County Chamber of Commerce. He was a member of the advisory board for the Selma-Dallas County Library. In 2004 he served as co-chair of the fundraising effort for Selma’s new YMCA. Perhaps an early prediction of Mr. Henry’s success as an outstanding citizen of Selma and Alabama was the YMCA’s choice of him as “Boy of the Year” in 1956. He was as proud of that honor as any he received later in life.
Historic preservation was something he believed in on a local and state level. Mr. Henry served for thirteen years on the Alabama Historical Commission, serving one term as its chairman. He served as president of the Selma-Dallas County Historic Preservation Society and as a board member and chairman of the Sturdivant Museum Association.
Fiercely loyal to and proud of his hometown, Mr. Henry promoted Selma wherever he traveled; he said, “I always introduce myself by saying, ‘I’m Ted Henry from Selma.'”
There are many tangible “testaments” to his and his family’s generosity and interest in historic preservation and love for this community: the gazebo in Sturdivant Hall’s Rose Garden, the reading garden at the Selma-Dallas County Public Library, the memorial courtyard at Cornerstone Presbyterian Church, the courtyard at the Performing Arts Center and the ballroom at the historic St. James Hotel. He was on the board of Mainstreet Alabama. Mr. Henry lived what he preached; no historic preservation effort was dearer to his heart than his own home, a restored 1893 Victorian, BRICK house in downtown Selma where he and his wife reared their four children. He loved sharing the project with tourists on the Selma Pilgrimage of Homes, an event the Henry’s participated in several times.
A staunch supporter of education, Mr. Henry served for eight years as a trustee of Rhodes College, alma mater of two of his sons. He served for several years on the President’s Cabinet at the University of Alabama.
Mr. Henry was a life time member and an elder of the First Presbyterian Church, now Cornerstone Presbyterian.
His parents preceded him in death as did his mother-in-law Natalie Denson, his brother-in-law Arthur B. Gleason, Jr. and nephew Arthur B. Gleason III.
Totally devoted to his family, Mr. Henry’s last creative effort was putting to pen a comprehensive history of the family. Surviving Mr. Henry are his wife of 46 years, Dèbe Denson Henry, their children, children-in-law and grandchildren to whom he was “Dandy:” William Davis and Cathy Anderson Henry, their children Frances, Natalie and William; Drew Morrow Henry and Tamara Hudson, their children Santiago and Francisco; Christopher Denson and Lauren Murray Henry, their children Ted Morrow Henry II and Jane; Kathrine Hope Henry and George Patterson, their children, Kate, Camden and soon-to-arrive baby boy Peyton Henry. Mr. Henry is also survived by his sister, Rosemary Henry Gleason, his parents-in-law Mr. and Mrs. William Quitman Denson, Jr., an uncle, John Sherrer (Sherrie) and a large extended family.
The family will hold a private burial service at 10:00 a.m. A Celebration of Ted Morrow Henry’s life will be held at Cornerstone Presbyterian Church at 2:00 p.m. Friday, October 24, with Dr. Jerry Gunnels officiating.
Memorial gifts may be made to Cornerstone Presbyterian Church, Sturdivant Hall Museum Association and the Selma-Dallas County Public Library.
Published in the Montgomery Advertiser on Oct. 22, 2014