Sam Houston Henderson was born January 16, 1924 in San Angelo, Texas to Thomas Rice and Fern Ward Henderson. He passed away on December 29, 2015 in Eldorado, Texas.
Services were held Thursday, December 31 at 1:30 p.m. in The Chapel at the Schleicher County Cemetery in Eldorado.
Sam was raised in Schleicher County along with his siblings Jane, Buddy and Jacqueline Henderson on the family ranch east of Eldorado.
Sam spent his youth working cattle, horses, sheep and goats and decided early on he wanted this to be his livelihood. He had accumulated a small herd of goats by the time he was 17, only to have to leave them behind when he joined the U.S. Army to serve in World War II. He lied about his age, enlisting as a Private and soon found himself volunteering to be a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne Division, which would ultimately take him to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest Retreat in Berchtesgaden, Germany. Sam was an excellent marksman and was charged with providing meat for his company and achieved this in many ways, but his greatest satisfaction during this time came in taking a stag off of Hitler’s private game reserve. Although Sam told many light-hearted stories of his time in the War, they always ended with, “War is Hell.”
After returning from the War, Sam met Viola Wood, a Southern Belle from Alabama, on a blind date to the San Angelo Fat Stock Show. They were married July 22, 1946 and were together 59 years until Viola’s death on October 6, 2004.
Sam was a rancher. The goats he had accumulated prior to going to the War were lost in a hard winter freeze while he was away, however, when he returned they were replaced by 17 dogie lambs given to him and Vi by his Uncle Mac (C.C. McBurnett,) and Aunt Mary. During the next 50 years their herd expanded to include Brangus cattle, Rambouillet sheep and Angora goats. Sam and Vi once traveled with the Mohair Council of America throughout Europe and South Africa. Ever the hunter, Sam found a way to incorporate a kudu hunt while on this trip to promote mohair!
In 1986, Sam and Vi purchased a ranch near Flying H, New Mexico where Sam pursued his greatest passion – hunting elk. Sam harvested his last bull elk just a few months prior to his 90th birthday. He lived to hear the elk bugle.
Sam was preceded in death by his wife, Viola, and his siblings, Thomas Rice “Buddy” Henderson, Jr. and Jeanette Henderson Wheeler. He is survived by his sister, Jacqueline Henderson Napier and husband Harris, and by his children, Sam Houston Henderson, Jr. and wife Karen of Eldorado; daughter Shane Henderson of Eldorado; son Thomas Hunter Henderson and wife April, of Springtown, Texas, and son Forrest Dean Henderson and wife Mickey of Flying H, New Mexico.
Sam is survived by six grandchildren: Sam Houston Henderson III (Jennifer), Amy Henderson Nix (Dalton), Chandra “C’Jay” Vaughan, Tiffany Henderson, Hailey Henderson and Nicole Henderson. He is also survived by six great-grandchildren: Beau and Ella Henderson, Davis and Callan Nix, and Brooks and Cora Vaughan.
Other survivors include special life-long friends, Joe Freeman of Ballinger and the Jerry Bruton family of Paducah, Texas.
The family wishes to thank the entire staff of Schleicher County Nursing Home for the care they provided Sam during his last year. The love and gentle care they showed him was above and beyond. Additionally, the family extends their thanks to Gentiva Hospice.