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The original item was published from 2/7/2017 8:26:03 AM to 2/15/2017 12:00:05 AM.

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Butte-Silver Bow

Posted on: February 7, 2017

[ARCHIVED] Dennis Henderson, BSB commissioner, dies at 71

Dennis Henderson, a Vietnam veteran, longtime businessman in Butte, former school board member and a Butte-Silver Bow commissioner the past six years, died Monday after a battle with cancer. He was 71.

Henderson was born in Butte, graduated from Butte High School in 1964 and served in the U.S. Army from 1964 to 1966, including time with the 1st Cavalry Division in Vietnam.

He at one time owned A-1 Ambulance Service in Butte, P.J. Sports and the Winter Garden Bowling Center. He also drove a school bus, served as chairman of the Butte School Board, was an assistant state commissioner for Babe Ruth Baseball and was an avid hunter.

He represented the county’s largely rural 5th District on the Council of Commissioners, winning elections in 2010, 2012 and just last November — the last two times without drawing an opponent.

“He was a common man and he worked for the common people,” said fellow commissioner and longtime friend Jim Fisher.

John Mack, a lifelong friend who in recent years had coffee many mornings with Henderson and a few other friends, said he was successful in all his business endeavors but was always a “salt of the Earth kind of guy.”

“He was just real down to Earth and he was interested in the city of Butte and promoting it,” Mack said.

As a commissioner, Henderson was plain-spoken and outspoken about issues he considered important to his constituents, including road maintenance and fire protection. He was a fiscal hawk as well, often questioning spending proposals, county expenses and bids for projects and services.

“He really stood up for the people he represented and was always watching out for their pocketbook,” said Butte-Silver Bow Chief Executive Dave Palmer, also a former commissioner.

Commissioner Cindi Shaw said Henderson “never had a problem being an unpopular commissioner” by voting the way his constituents wanted.

“He was just genuine,” she said. “In a word I would call him genuine.”

Council Chairman John Morgan said Henderson had a great sense of humor but took his job as commissioner seriously.

“He had a pretty good attention to detail and he really preferred things to be on the up-and-up — and in writing,” Morgan said. “And he respected the other commissioners. He didn’t always agree with them but he understood that good things were being done.”

Henderson gladly fielded questions from constituents and the press, once answering a Montana Standard reporter’s call on his cell phone from a mountainside just as he and another hunter spotted an elk. He whispered that he would call back later, which he did.

Henderson was always immersed in the community, including youth activities as a coach and referee. He helped line up baseball tournaments in Butte and in 1980 was appointed assistant state commissioner of Babe Ruth Baseball. He also was a member of the Silver Bow Kiwanis Club, once serving as its president.

And Henderson was a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan, Morgan recalled.

Even though Morgan is a Packers fan, he said, “I wish the Cowboys could have won it one more time this year for Hendo.”

Commissioners will appoint someone to fill Henderson's seat on the council until the next election.

Henderson and his wife, Diane, had two children — daughter Dana and son Marty. Dana was 43 when she died in October 2014 after a long battle with lupus and cancer.

Arrangements are pending at the Duggan Dolan Mortuary.

See article on The Montana Standard
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