By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Henderson House founder dies at 84

Mary Henderson
Mary Henderson

Services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at the McMinnville Seventh-day Adventist Church, 1500 S.W. Old Sheridan Road.

“She was a remarkable, feisty lady,” said Beverly Knutz, who has served as a member of the supporting Henderson House Guild since 1983.

“That’s what it took to get this movement going,” Knutz said. “She left a great legacy for us.”

Henderson endured physical and emotional violence in her marriage for more than 20 years. After she finally left her husband, she decided she needed to help other women who’d had the similar experiences.

She found a job with Legal Aid and began speaking to service groups and churches about the scourge of domestic violence. She paired with Carol Reid of the McMinnville Police Department, who presented statistics about the local scope.

“It woke a lot of people up,” Henderson said in a 2007 News-Register story.

She said she realized, though, that talking wasn’t enough. So she began working with a group that included District Attorney John Collins, now presiding Yamhill County Circuit Judge, to create a shelter where victims could stay and receive support as they started new lives.

“People said it wasn’t necessary,” she said in 2011, when she attended a fundraiser celebrating Henderson House’s 30th anniversary. But, she said, “I knew it was.”

Back in 1981, when the Henderson House Yamhill County Crisis Shelter opened, she hoped it wouldn’t be needed for long. “I hoped domestic violence would end,” she said.

But it didn’t. So its shelter beds were, and still are, usually full. And its other programs, such as support groups for victims of abuse, continue to be in great demand.

In the 2007 story, Henderson said domestic violence “is still covered up. It’s still condoned by some people. It’s still everywhere.”

Henderson, who also founded the Crisis Pregnancy Centers in McMinnville and Newberg, served as director of Henderson House until illness forced her to step down.

She continued to be a vibrant advocate for the program until recently. She also volunteered in the office weekly, in addition to helping with events and fundraisers.

“We are honored here that Mary was so involved,” said Savenia Falquist, named executive director when Rhonda Fabreth retired last fall.

Falquist said the Henderson House office will be closed Friday so the staff can attend the funeral. The emergency hotline will continue, however.

“This is her legacy,” Falquist said.

Knutz recalled that when she introduced Henderson, people often did a double-take, saying “You’re THE Mary Henderson?”

She would step back, claiming to be unimportant, Knutz said. “But how strong a woman she was!

“You think back to that time ... domestic violence was a behind-closed-doors thing. For her to come out and talk about her own situation, to do public speaking, to knock on doors to get the word out in front of the public ... “

Knutz said, “She was a movement.”



Thank you for all you did Ms. Henderson

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