In August of 1969, while recuperating in the hospital in Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam, George Henderson made a pledge that if and when he returned home, he would work with and dedicate his life to mentoring youth. He returned home in the spring of 1970, met and married Jackie Hearp and the two have been sidekicks for 50 years.
Henderson began working with the youth in the City of Danville as a coach and an official. 50 years later this dynamic duo is ready to step down, leaving a legacy of dedication to the youth of Pittsylvania County and surrounding area.
Henderson began coaching football, baseball and basketball in Pittsylvania County in 1980, and became the Commissioner of The Pittsylvania County Youth Football League in 1981. In 1983, he was approached by Coach Bob Lindsey and asked if Henderson could form a basketball league to conform to the football league and he was subsequently named Commissioner of the Youth Basketball Leagues.
At that time, there were two city schools and all county schools participating in the league. In the 1980s, Henderson and his wife, Jackie, started a girls’ softball league. In 2008, George and Jackie were instrumental in the formation of the Pittsylvania County Girls Volleyball League in 2008 with 35 players.
Henderson became the first Commissioner of the Volleyball League in 2009, and today that league averages over 300 players each year. Through the league, the Hendersons have awarded over 30 scholarships to county participants.
Jackie has served alongside her husband as secretary in baseball, football, volleyball, cheerleading, basketball and softball. Jackie worked behind the scenes making sure everything ran smoothly by working gates, scheduling and handling equipment needs.
Henderson stepped away in 2011 as Commissioner of the Pittsylvania County youth basketball and football leagues, after serving in those capacities for more than 30 years.
Each year, he has mentored in excess of 1,000 youth athletics through the various sports programs, preparing them for high school sports in Pittsylvania County, and professional teams. He was instrumental in the beginning of an annual scholarship program through the Pittsylvania County Youth Sports Leagues, which provided ten scholarships each year in the amount of $500 each to deserving athletes in the football, volleyball and basketball youth sports.
Mr. Henderson has been a Virginia High School League Official for baseball for over 40 years and served one year in professional baseball with the Winston-Salem Wart Hogs, an ODAC College Official for more 30 years, volunteered as a basketball official for the Danville YMCA for over 35 years, and has served as an umpire and referee for 38 years to the Pittsylvania County youth sports leagues.
Parents and grandparents have seen their children go through the county youth sports leagues under Mr. Henderson’s exemplary leadership and his dedication of making sure our young people have an active and healthy lifestyle.
In 2012, the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors recognized Mr. Henderson by presenting him with a Resolution expressing their sincere gratitude and appreciation for the many hours of volunteerism, dedication, mentorship, commitment and vision to the youth sports programs of the County of Pittsylvania.
In 2012, Senator William M. Stanley Jr. and the Senate of the Commonwealth of Virginia approved a Commendation to Mr. Henderson in recognition of his retirement after 30 years of service as Commissioner of the Pittsylvania County youth football and basketball leagues.
Mr. Henderson understood and appreciated the many long hours that so many volunteers had given of their time and resources and stood with him in mentoring the youth and helping them become successful young men and women, and he wanted to let them know how much their efforts had been appreciated.
In 2014, with the help if his sister, Brenda Bowman, he saw his vision come to fruition when he founded the “Pittsylvania County Sports Hall of Fame” (PCSHOF). That dream became a reality and has become an annual large event in the county. A board of 12 citizens inducted its inaugural class of 13.
For the past seven years, over 70 volunteer parents, coaches and boosters have been inducted into the PCSHOF at a dinner ceremony and presented with personal plaques and their names included on a perpetual plaque. This has been made possible by many city and county business leaders who have sponsored the annual induction ceremony, to include Premiere Sponsorships from Nelson Auto Group of Martinsville & Bassett, and J&J Trucking Co. of Pittsylvania County.
For the past four years, Wilkins & Co. Realtors has been the Premiere Sponsor.
The Mission of the PCSHOF is to promote the common good, general welfare and civic excellence of the citizens of the community by recognizing the achievement of former and current individuals or groups of Pittsylvania County who have been involved in, and/or contributed to the success of Pittsylvania Virginia sports programs in county youth leagues, public or private school sports, professional or personal sports endeavors.
Henderson acknowledges and is thankful for the many trailblazers who were also instrumental in getting the various leagues off the ground and who have been inducted in the PCSHOF, to include H. F. Haymore, Ronnie Haymore, Donnie Bullins, Bob Lindsey, Tink Richardson, Fred Clifton, Steve Stone, just to name a few.
Mr. Henderson and his wife, Jackie, who also was recognized for her volunteerism, were part of the first inductees of the Class of 2014 Henderson is quick to point out that without the dedication and help of his wife, the success of the programs would have been a struggle.
Mr. Henderson wanted to continue to do more for the youth of our county and presented himself as a candidate for the Pittsylvania County School Board and was elected to represent the Tunstall District in 2015. He was elected for a second term in 2019. All of this is a true testimony of his community involvement and Pittsylvania County has been the benefactor of the hard work on behalf of the young people of our county.
After a 43-year career as an insurance claims adjuster with both Geico and National General Insurance, Henderson retired in 2016. Prior to his insurance career, he also served as a Police Officer with the Danville Police Department upon his return from Viet Nam, where he was a Military Police with the U.S. Army.
Henderson says the word “retiring” doesn’t seem to fit because it wasn’t a job for which he received payment for his services. He never received compensation. It was a labor of love and commitment to the youth of Pittsylvania County. His plans are to step down upon the completion of the volleyball season, which is temporarily halted due to COVID-19 restrictions, and is scheduled to end in April 2021.
Henderson’s wife survived a courageous battle with cancer in 2020, and in October 2020, they lost their only child, Chris Henderson, age 46, to COVID-19.
George and Jackie, who celebrated their 50th Anniversary Dec. 28, 2020, look forward to the next chapter in their life in 2021, with plans of traveling and enjoying their free time together.
Mr. Henderson is currently the Vice-Chair of the Pittsylvania County School Board.