Dr. James C. Henderson age 87, of Farmington, New Mexico passed away March 17, 2020 in Farmington after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. He was born to Dewey and Vina Henderson in Durango, Colorado on March 13, 1933.
James was an Army veteran enlisting on April 2, 1953 and honorably discharged on March 16, 1955.
James married Tycie Jameson on February 5, 1956. They traveled many miles together over the next 64 years. Starting out in Ajo, Arizona, they moved to Flagstaff, Arizona where Dr. Henderson received his Master’s Degree at Northern Arizona University. In 1959 they relocated to Douglas, Arizona where he taught at the Douglas Public Schools and was elected Cochise County School Superintendent in 1962. In 1966, James accepted the position of Superintendent of Willcox, Arizona Public Schools. He resigned from the Superintendent post in 1974 to return to the University of Arizona where he completed his doctorate of education degree in 1975.
He moved to Farmington in 1975 to assume the leadership of San Juan College. Starting as the campus director, he began early on forging the small branch of New Mexico State University to acquire its own identity. He lobbied legislators, told his story to countless people and shared his vision of a community college that would provide educational and career opportunities to people in the Four Corners region and beyond. In 1982, San Juan College became an independent community college and Dr. Henderson was named its first president. He continued in that capacity until his retirement in 2003, but remained with the college as Chancellor Emeritus for an additional year working in various capacities.
In 2004, Dr. Henderson was elected to the San Juan County Commission, where he served until term limits required him to step down in 2012. As a County Commissioner, Dr. Henderson focused on growing the county’s economic base, a focus he continued as a member of the Board of Directors on the Four Corners Economic Development. Dr. Henderson was also a member of the San Juan College Foundation Board, serving as president of the San Juan Safe Communities Initiative and the San Juan Medical Foundation Board. He was a longtime Rotarian, was founder of Leadership San Juan and a member of the Farmington Chamber of Commerce Redcoats. Many other community organizations have benefited from his time and knowledge. Dr. Henderson was a servant to his community and had a deep love, devotion and dedication to San Juan College.
He is preceded in death by son, Jeffrey Bryan Henderson; parents; brother Patrick Henderson; sister Mozelle Donofrio; and great grandson Jackson Dean Carter.
He is survived by sons, Jack Henderson and wife Anne; Jim Henderson and wife Rose; daughter, Carol Carter and husband Harold; grandchildren, Tonya Avery, Jeremy Carter, Heather Ponicsan, Aaron Lytle, Justin Lytle, Bryan Blackmer and Alyson Blackmer; great grandchildren, Austin Avery, Sydney Avery, Chloe Carter, Brandon Carter, Taylor Gray, Alex Lytle, Rylie Lytle and Carter Lytle.
James attended Riverstone Methodist Church in Farmington where he sat on numerous committees over the past 44 years.
A privatized funeral service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Friday March 20 at Riverstone Methodist Church, 808 North Monterey Avenue. A private family burial will follow at Memory Gardens Cemetery, 6917 East Main Street. There will be a broadcast of the service available at www.sanjuancollege.edu shortly after the service.
Funeral arrangements are by Farmington Funeral Home, 2111 West Apache Street.
Contributions to Alzheimer’s research would be appreciated in lieu of flowers. www.alz.org/newmexico
Note: There will be a visitation at the church at 10:00am prior to the funeral service. Due to heightened precautions now in place concerning the COVID-19 virus, the family will not be present at visitation and will not be interacting with guests at the services at the church. We are sorry for the inconvenience but please know that we feel your love, support, thoughts and prayers.