Alabama A&M community mourns death of beloved professor

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The Alabama A&M community lost a beloved professor and family member over the holidays. (AAMU)

The Alabama A&M University community is mourning the loss of one of its own, as retired biology professor and mentor Wiley J. Henderson died December 23. Henderson was 88 years old.

Henderson was not only an icon in the AAMU community, but in the Huntsville area in general. He will be remembered not only as a popular and beloved professor at AMU, bit also for the bevy of contributions he made to the local community:

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Wiley J. Henderson: 1934-2022

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AAMU’s beloved professor Wiley Henderson died Dec. 23, 2022. (AAMU)

Professor Wiley Henderson began his teaching career in the Clarke County School System in South Alabama. In 1978, he accepted a position as an Associate Professor of Biology at Alabama A&M, beginning a career in higher education that touched hundreds of lives along the way.

As a retiree of the Alabama Higher Education System, Henderson continued to give full-time service to Alabama A&M University. His love and dedication for his students was exemplified in the many long hours he gave by always arriving on the job early and leaving late.

To say he was a beloved professor at AAMU is actually an understatement. Over the years his students nominated him for Who’s Who Among American Teachers four times. He also received recognition as Professor of the Month and Teacher of the Year from the Student Government Association.

Henderson not only gave his time to Alabama A&M, but also helped raise funds for the school as well. During three decades of tenure at Alabama A&M, Henderson made substantial financial contributions to the university through payroll deductions and other venues. He gave leadership for the Class of 1956 campaign to raise $50,000 for the university. His fellow classmates presented him the Class Achievement Award at his 50th class reunion.

A ‘servant to all mankind’

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The Alabama A&M Biology Department owes a lot to its beloved Professor Henderson. (AAMU)

In addition to being a mentor and beloved professor at Alabama A&M, Henderson was an active member of the local community here in the Huntsville area. He was actively involved in civic and community outreach programs for more than half a century.

As a young professional, he organized a civic club to inform and increase voter registration in his rural south Alabama community. He also helped to organize a federal credit union to serve minority educators, and served as chairman of the board for this organization.

Additionally, he completed terms as president of both the local teachers and parent teacher associations. While serving as president of the local Normalite Alumni Association, he coordinated annual fund raising activities for Alabama A&M University. He remained at the forefront as a leader in his church.

While serving as chairman of the trustee board, he spearheaded fundraising effort that resulted in the building of a new edifice. He also served as superintendent for the Sunday School.

Henderson often described himself as “a servant to all mankind,” and his actions fulfilled this declaration. In addition to his mentorship through Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, he further expanded his outreach to youth by serving as a leader with the Boy Scouts of America, and was instrumental in local fundraising efforts for the American Heart Association, Muscular Dystrophy and the March of Dimes.

The devoted father and mentor to many also leaves behind to cherish his memories his loving wife, Dr. Chinella Henderson, retired Associate Director for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Alabama A&M University.

A memorial service was held Dec. 28 in Henderson’s honor.

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Michael Seale
Michael Seale
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