We sadly share the news that Charles Henderson, Jr., PhD ’55, passed away on April 19, 2015, in York Harbor, ME. To honor Henderson’s life and contributions to the field of Classics and the department, the department hosted a small memorial celebration on April 29. There, friends of Henderson shared their favorite memories of him, including his rules for visiting “Granddaddy’s House.” The gathering was held in Ullman Library, which Henderson ensured was named in honor of his mentor Berthold Lewis Ullman.
Born in Lynchburg, VA, Aug. 22, 1923, the paripatetic scholar would leave and return to North Carolina several times throughout his adulthood. He first arrived in North Carolina to attend Davidson College as an undergraduate. After earning his bachelor’s in 1942, though, Henderson’s studies were interrupted by World War II. On Dec. 31, 1942, Henderson answered the call of duty, and joined the U.S. Navy, serving for a number of years before completing his service as a commanding officer of the U.S.S. Manning (DE 199) in 1946.
After the war, Henderson was compelled to return to the state to complete his academic training. He returned to North Carolina to study Classics at Chapel Hill in 1946, completing his master’s by 1947. By 1955, he had completed his dissertation, “A Lexicon of the Stylistic Terms Used in Roman Literary Criticism,” but would not tarry in the Tar Heel state for long. He left UNC with PhD in hand to teach at Washington Square College, New York University for five years.
NYU was not alluring enough to keep Henderson from Chapel Hill, however. When a position for an assistant professor became available at UNC, the journeyman left his instructor position in the North to return to the Old North State. By 1958 Henderson ascended to an associate professorship. Having been associated with the department for most of his adulthood, Henderson became as familiar to the department as his own mentor, Ullman. Also like Ullman, Henderson diligently mentored graduate students through their studies and nurtured the talents of undergraduates at UNC while steadily producing scholarship. Ullman and he teamed with others to pen Latin for Americans, a pedagogical text that is still in use today. Despite his close affiliation with Ullman and the department, Henderson left the University for the last time in 1964, accepting a professorship at Smith College. He remained at Smith for over 20 years, retiring in 1986.
Regardless his distance from UNC, Henderson retained close ties to fellow classmates, former students, and the department. In particular, the department owes a special debt of gratitude toward Henderson for funding the renovation of our library. It was at Henderson’s bequest that the library was named in memory of Ullman, recognizing the value of not only Ullman’s contribution to the department and field of Classics but also as a mentor to Henderson and his fellow students. We, in turn, will remember “Charlie” as a student, professor, mentor, benefactor, and friend who greatly impacted our department long after he left it.