Mr. Walmart brought smiles to faces

Story by Emily Hoover

Substitute teachers. Students have those they dread, those they tolerate, those they make fun of, and, rarely, those they love and respect. Until recently, if asked about their favorite sub, many students would immediately respond, “Mr. Walmart.”

“Those who had Mr. Walmart know how great of not only a man, but also a role model he was,” senior Braydon Jones said. “Whether it was walking down the hallways or at any Texas High athletic event, Mr. Walmart could bring a smile to anyone’s face. He was not just a substitute, but was a friend, character, and most importantly, a true Tiger Fan.”

William Terry Henderson, 67, died Friday, Oct. 1, in a local hospital. Henderson was the grandfather of three, the father of two, and the husband of 45 years of Deanna Henderson, who works as an English teacher here.

Henderson, fondly known as “Mr. Walmart” by the students he taught as a substitute, worked at the school after retiring from his position as Community Development Coordinator of Walmart. During his time at Walmart, Henderson worked to donate thousands of dollars to schools in our district.

“He was the liaison between the schools and Walmart,” English teacher Jeanie Nutter said. “Walmart gave him a lot of money that he gave not only to Texas High, but to all the schools in our area.”

Henderson was known not only for his kindness and generosity, but also for his dependability and enthusiasm for helping students any way he could.

“Terry Henderson was a man that you could always depend upon,” leadership teacher Susan Waldrep said. “When I needed extra chaperones for a student council trip, Terry and Deanna were right there. When, at the last minute, I needed an extra driver to go to San Antonio, Terry immediately volunteered.”

Henderson first became involved because his daughter, Jamie, was a student at the school, when the family first moved to Texarkana.

“I got to know Terry first as a parent, because Jamie was on drill team,” Nutter said. “He was most supportive. He went to all the football games, in town and out of town; he was an avid fan.”

When Henderson retired and became a substitute teacher, he was immediately well liked and respected.

“Mr. Walmart was my favorite sub,” junior Falisha Folks said. “He made class fun, but we still did our work. Everyone respected him. He definitely made his mark on Texas High.”

Henderson had his own method for teaching the classes that students really appreciated. Instead of ignoring the class or yelling, Henderson told stories from his life and gave the students riddles.

“Mr. Walmart was just an overall amazing person as well as a substitute teacher,” junior Larkin Parks said. “The most memorable things about Mr. Walmart were his clever riddles. Not only was [working them] fun, but it got our brains working for that class.”

His positive attitude on life kept the classes fun and added to the students’ appreciation.

“He was my favorite sub, I guess because he always had a smile on his face,” junior Claire Howard said. “He always told funny stories to make us laugh.”

Henderson also had a big heart for those who he felt had been treated unfairly. Money was not important to him; people were.

“Coming back from lunch, the entire class was in their seats quickly because no one wanted to miss what Mr. Walmart might do,” Jones said. “Mr. Walmart comes in and says, ‘I hope you all had a great lunch’. One kid replies ‘I wish I could have eaten’. Mr. Walmart replies, ‘You didn’t eat…cat got your stomach?’ Laughing the student replied, ‘No, I didn’t have any money in my account’. Without hesitation, Mr. Walmart reached into his wallet and pulled out some cash and said to the young man, ‘Lunch is on me. Go grab you something to eat’.”

Henderson believed that everything and everyone should be treated with respect. For him, this was common sense.

“As a teacher it was nice [to have Terry], because you didn’t have to worry about class discipline when he was subbing,” Waldrep said. “You also didn’t have to worry about anything being out of place in your room, because he was a man of character, and he treated everything like his own.”

Henderson worked hard to be the best parent, husband, teacher and even neighbor, that he could be. His family meant everything to him, and he considered the world his family.

“I really miss Terry, because many times when I was in my back yard I would hear him over the fence calling, ‘Howdy, neighbor!’” counselor Ann Hoover said. “He was a wonderful addition to our neighborhood family, always looking out for my kids and my puppy dogs.”

Henderson certainly had a sense of humor, but he didn’t appreciate conflict. He worked hard to keep out of problems by using his carefully rehearsed exit strategies.

“Terry brought fried chicken every Friday for the football team,” Waldrep said. “One time two of the boys got in a fight, and he was like, ‘See ya!’ and hightailed it out of there.”

Henderson was well loved by his students along with everyone else he ever met. For him, making people happy was second nature, and he will not easily be forgotten.

“He was truly a genuinely nice man,” Parks said. “He was loved and will certainly be missed.”