Jerry S. Henderson
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Jerry S. Henderson
  • October 26, 1926 - June 22, 2017
  • Dallas, Texas

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Jerry Jane Smith Henderson, a generous, elegant and stubbornly independent stalwart of Dallas’ art scene, died on June 22, aged 90. A third-generation Texan, Jerry was a gourmet cook who loved offal and an early feminist who played a 45 record of Helen Reddy’s “I am woman” to her tween nieces.
As one of the first dozen museum staffers at the Dallas Museum of Art, she did everything from typing labels to running a much-copied art lending program, a boon for local artists at a time when there were virtually no art galleries. Later as Director of General Membership, she wielded hand-written notes and direct mail campaigns to set fund-raising records. She salted her mailing list with her nickname from Bill Booziotis, Ginger, so she would know if the list was stolen. As a volunteer in later years she took delight and care mounting pre-Columbian textiles and labeling gold figures.
Whether dressed in Issey Miyake or jeans and blue Keds, she was a stylish figure who knew what she liked. She turned away suitors until she found architect Philip Henderson, whom she married in 1963. That led to a nearly two-decade hiatus from the museum to raise two boys, Peter and Matthew, during which she became one of the hardest working volunteers at Greenhill School, when it was a scrappy educational startup in need of help.
Her cooking was legendary, spanning mountain oysters to angel food cake made from hand-beaten egg whites. She claimed always to follow a recipe, was never flustered, and nearly always succeeded. Thanksgiving while camping started with raw oysters shucked by her boys.
Born on October 26, 1926 to Samantha Taylor Smith and Ed C. Smith, Jr. Jerry grew up across from Lee Park. Blocks away stood the farmhouse that her family once owned on land that today is part of Oak Lawn.Though born in a conservative state, Jerry’s liberalism was stoked when she attended the University of Texas at Austin, and she was known for an abiding belief in equality and respect.
She leaves a family who will miss her love, grace and kindness. She is survived by husband Philip, sons Peter and Matthew, daughters-in-law Joelle and Miriam, grandson Milo, nieces Ilya, Alex and Sabrina Pratt and a wealth of other relatives and friends.
A memorial service will be held in the fall. Donations may be given in her name to the Dallas Museum of Art textile fund.