God gifted Hallie Mae and Lester Draden Henderson with a son while living in Maysville, Missouri. Hallie and Lester named their son after his maternal and paternal grandfathers John Summerfield and Thomas Henderson. At the time, John Thomas Henderson was the third of four children, born on March 28, 1939. His parents and siblings, Joyce, Lester, and William, preceded him in death. John, eventually answering to J.T., attended schools within the Kansas City, Missouri School District. At the end of the school year in 1957 he graduated from Manual High School. J.T. joined the United States Marine Corp in July 1958 and served in Okinawa, Japan. He was honorably discharged as an LCPL E-4 on July 9, 1961.
J.T. married Vedrene Hytche while on leave from the Marines on December 3, 1958. To this union two sons were born, John T. Henderson, Jr., and Kevin L. Henderson. J.T. became a magnificent husband and father. He was employed by Ford Motor Company working in the assembly plant in Claycomo, Missouri. He also worked with Ford's Safety Program and became their spokesperson at several seminars for employees. He won many awards for his suggestions improving quality while working on the production line during his early years at Ford. He then retired in 1993 as a Dimensional Control Inspector. J.T. served the youth in his community as a YMCA Indian Guide Leader and Scoutmaster of the Boy Scout Troop 89, to eventually watch his own sons obtain the rank of Eagle Scout which was the highest rank of the Boy Scouts. J.T. also attended his son’s PTA meetings, musical performances and sporting events. He served as a tutor in reading at Harold Holliday Montessori School and Melcher Elementary School during his retirement years.
J.T. served the Gregory Ridge Homeowners Association as Vice President for 5 years and President for 8 years. He was instrumental as a Community Leader in having the City's landfill closed and repurposed in South Kansas City. The closure improved the quality of life for the East Meyer Community. J.T. was no stranger at City Hall or community functions. He was an avid community volunteer working to help eradicate crime and blight. His neighbors often sought him out to guide them to the proper city agency to receive help. As a child, J.T. grew up in Friendship Baptist Church and was baptized in 1964 by the late Reverend I. H. Henderson, Jr. (no relation). He was ordained a Deacon for Friendship Baptist Church in 1989 under the leadership of Reverend C. E. McLain. Reverend I. H. Henderson groomed him for this position before his passing. J.T. served Friendship Baptist Church in various capacities, to include: Sunday School teacher in the young adult department; Assistant Sunday School Superintendent; became one of the original drivers to the Bus Ministry in 1979, serving for 40 years faithfully until his health declined; served on the Pulpit Committee in 1994 (Manuel L. Dillingham, Pastor); served as Men's Day Chairperson many times as well as serving on many Special Day committees through the years. J.T. also organized the first Male Bonding Ministry under Reverend Manuel L. Dillingham.
There has been no area of service that J.T. did not try to serve, whether visiting the sick or giving a helping hand to those who might need his support. He loved to serve. He was an active member of the weekly Prayer Meeting and Bible Study held each Wednesday at the church. J.T. was known for his honesty and integrity. He taught his sons the same principles and lived by those principles as an example to others. During his retirement years, J.T.’s pace did not slow down. He served as the first President of F.O.R.D. (Friendly Ole Retired Dudes/Dames) until April 1, 2019, until his current illness. Under his tenure, the membership grew to approximately 80 members. Over time, J.T. became a great cook during his retirement. He loved to travel and drove his family to every state in the United States except Maine, North Dakota and to our neighboring countries of Canada and Mexico. His last trip, he drove in 2017, he drove 5,000 miles traveling on the West Coast of the USA. Some of the awards J.T. was presented through the years are as follows: The Ford Motor Company Community Service Award, 1971; Monetary and Trip Awards from Ford Motor Company; Boy Scout Master Award, 1977; Community Award Recognition by City Councilman, Terry Riley; and a host of church acknowledgments. J.T.’s greatest rewards were his sons and three beautiful grandchildren, whom he adored. J.T. was the best grandpa in the world, and to many, a wonderful uncle, cousin and dependable friend who loved God. J.T. showed patience, kindness, humbleness, and respect toward others.
He exhibited to us all his faith, love, intelligence, frugality and thoughtfulness. We mourn the loss of our great husband and loving father. He lovingly leads the way for his wife, Vedrene R. Henderson; his two sons, John T. Henderson, Jr. and Kevin L. Henderson; grandchildren, Alisha D. Henderson, Kevin J. Henderson, and Caitlin M. Henderson, as well as his many nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.
Funeral services will be held at 10:00 A.M. on Thursday, April 11, 2019 at Friendship Baptist Church 3530 Chelsea Drive Kansas City, Missouri 64128. Visitation 9:00 A.M. Interment Leavenworth National Cemetery 12:30 P.M.