Serving the public comes naturally for Jack Henderson.
From serving two decades as Yadkin’s sheriff to working in the butcher business, Henderson enjoys interacting with the public and making a difference.
Henderson grew up in Hamptonville in the Windsor’s Crossroads community. He was born at home to farming parents. His father was a tobacco farmer and cow trader.
“He was somewhat of an unlicensed veterinarian,” Henderson said. “He knew a lot about animal health and things of that nature.”
His father was the local butcher for the neighborhood. Through his father, Henderson got his first taste of butchery and still continues to butcher meat as a hobby.
At first, he considered going into heavy machinery and operate bull dozers, but a part-time job at the Elkin A&P led him back to butchery.
“My boss at the time said, ‘Well, there’s a good career if you want to get in the meat business. If you want to learn the trade I can teach you a whole lot.’ And he did, and of course he got me a job up in Winston-Salem later on,” Henderson said.
He worked for A&P Food Stores in Winston-Salem for 11 years, then Butcher Shoppe, Inc. for another four.
“I never thought I wanted to work in a factory,” Henderson said. “And this was something that would be different every day.”
Henderson continues to use his skills, even after exiting the butchery business professionally.
He has butchered 28 deer this year between himself and friends, and averages three to four hogs and a couple cows each year.
“That’s not work anymore, that’s kind of pleasure,” Henderson said.
Henderson had always had an interest in politics, a second love he got from his father. He was a member of the Young Republicans and active in the party but never intended to run for office himself.
At the urging of the party, he ran for sheriff of Yadkin County.
Henderson was elected sheriff in 1978 and served the county for 20 years in that position.
“You learn a lot of life skills as time goes along,” Henderson said of the experience. “You learn how to deal with people and how to get along with people, especially if you work with the public.”
During his time as sheriff, Henderson worked closely with the public. He held numerous speaking engagements and maintained a servant relationship with the county’s residents.
“I got probably the most satisfaction from helping other people. For instance if someone came in with a family problem, marital problems, not that I was all that great a counselor, I would talk to them about it and how to resolve it,” Henderson said.
One of the highlights of his tenure was being elected president of the N.C. Sheriff’s Association by his peers — no small feat for a Republican sheriff in a state with roughly 70 percent Democratic sheriffs.
Henderson said the position of sheriff was difficult at times because of politics.
“One of my downfalls was that I was a non-partisan person when I did that, and some of the political people didn’t like you helping people from the opposite party,” Henderson said. “Well I never looked at a person’s color, race, creed, gender — or political things — when I made a decision about something. I looked at them as a person and did whatever I could to help them if I could.”
Even after leaving office Henderson has continued to serve the public.
He has served on the board of the Yadkin Family YMCA, as the treasurer for the Yadkin Masonic Lodge, a board member for Yadkin Christian Ministries, as a member of the Yadkin County Jury Commission, and as chairman for the Yadkin County Equalization and Review board.
Henderson also has worked closely with his church, Courtney Baptist. He is a past treasurer and has served on several church committees.
Henderson said the work he does is the least he could do for all he has been given.
“Yadkin County has been awful good to me, and I need to give back some,” Henderson said.
Henderson spends his time hunting with his two grandsons, butchering, and traveling with his wife Ruth.
Reach Taylor Pardue at 835-1513 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.