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Nick Henderson was born on April 20th in 1957, over 66 years ago, and passed away September 17, 2023, after a cowboy’s fight against cancer of the neck. To his father and mother, LeVon and Leath Moser Henderson, he was a delight and another helpful hand on the family farm in Osmond, Wyoming. He was the sixth of what turned out to be their eight children.
Nick grew to be 6 feet tall and had chestnut hair and eyes. His wife says he was incredibly handsome. His father complimented his long arms that could reach things and quickly do a little more with longer leverage. He was indeed strong. Like his father, Nick loved horses, especially his favorite saddlehorse, Onyx. He could also manage a team, as his family used draft horses to farm until the late 1970’s.
Nick had a talent for singing and sought out chorus at Star Valley Junior High from Mr. Jenkins and Star Valley High School from Mr. Tippets. Nick was athletic and gifted at basketball (long arms), keeping his even temperament when deliberately fouled. He showed more independent uniqueness with a drive to learn the French language from Mr. Lewis’s classes. He could sail through other harder classes too, like chemistry and trigonometry, with straight A’s while others had to work hard just to pass. He attended Brigham Young University. Then a mission call arrived and, to his own delight, took him overseas to Paris, France. He became fluent in the French language. It was said the people in France could not detect that Nick was a native English speaker. One of the latest bursts of enthusiasm in Nick’s recent physical depletion was responding to an inquiry about the different message of a French hymn and he quickly translated all three verses into English.
Like all their father’s sons, Nick did not find farming quite attractive enough. But his youthful eye was on the trucks of his dad’s other occupation, that of a truck driver for Robert’s Market in Afton. To him these trucks had a power train better than driving the farm’s workhorse teams, to govern the beckoning road and still find a way home.
When he returned from his LDS mission in Paris, France in the fall of 1978, he reported his mission to the LDS high council. There he saw Ludean Schwab at the Star Valley Stake Center. Ludean was on crutches after a near fatal motorcycle crash where her foot was terribly damaged. Nick and Ludean had been high school friends and in chorus together. That Christmas he gave her real perfume from France. Who could resist a French speaking Wyoming boy dressed in Wranglers, boots, and a pearl-snapped western shirt? They both went to BYU for the 1979 winter semester and a romance developed. Ludean was still on crutches and wore a heavy plaster cast on her foot. Nick helped her navigate the large campus and, Ludean recalls, he was a true gentleman.
The couple married in August of 1979 in the Salt Lake LDS Temple. Nick worked at the Star Studs Sawmill and their first home was in a small apartment above the Afton Post Office. Nick landed his first truck driving job with Stewart Sandwiches based out of Rock Springs, Wyoming. He delivered frozen sandwiches to the remote coal and trona mines, and fast-food stores during the oil boom. In Rock Springs he also drove for UPS, hauled freight, and did other oilfield related trucking. There they had their two children: Robert LeVon Henderson in 1981 and Joni Marie Henderson in 1982.
Ludean’s left foot had to be amputated in 1987 due to injuries sustained 10 years earlier. Nick determined it best to move from Rock Springs to Star Valley and be closer to family. Nick continued as a truck driver and helped his father on the farm. This time his driving career included a charter bus to Jackson Hole, and hauling freight, logs, and wood chips. Later they moved to Logan, Utah for Ludean to complete her degree in special education at Utah State University, with Nick driving for Miller Beef. After Ludean started teaching in Lyman, Wyoming, Nick transported liquid nitrogen and later owned his own Western Star semi and delivered water to the oil fields.
After their divorce in 1993 with Ludean teaching in Evanston, Wyoming, Nick drove over the road long-haul for C & T Trucking in Etna, Wyoming where he crisscrossed the United States for nine years, hauling everything imaginable from potatoes, cattle, hazardous materials, gravel, honeybees, even burial vaults.
The couple remarried in 2003, and along with their adult children, Rob and Joni, moved to Eugene, Oregon for Ludean’s career where Heather Campbell and Jacob Wintch joined the family. Nick hauled containers filled with grass seed from the Willamette Valley farms to the seaports in Seattle and Tacoma for shipment around the world.
Nick served as an LDS Ward Clerk in Eugene and Brownsville, Oregon for 8 years, and sang bass in the ward and stake choirs. Nick loved and recited cowboy poetry. He liked figuring out how to repair things and doing woodworking. He enjoyed the forest and wildlife, Dry Creek Canyon, snowmobiles, ATVs, guns and ammo, four-wheel-drive trucks, and his yellow jeep, but particularly he loved his 17 grandchildren who affectionately called him Bonka (even when he was a big tease). Before they came along, it was especially his nieces and nephews that were regularly drawn to him; sometimes he would take one with him on the truck. During Nick’s truck driving career, he logged over two million miles. That equals circling the Earth 80 times! One of Nick’s career highlights was transporting massive granite boulders out of the Little Cottonwood Canyon quarries near Salt Lake City, eventually to be masoned and used in the construction of the LDS Conference Center.
The couple moved to Twin Falls, Idaho in 2016 where Ludean was employed as a Director of Special Education for the Cassia and Kimberly School Districts and Nick retired because of health reasons. He had significant health problems for much of his adult life including Sarcoidosis, resultant severe kidney damage, which led to renal disease for 23 years. In the last 4 years he had 2 heart attacks, COVID twice, cancer of the neck that included radiation and neck dissection surgery; then the cancer metastasized to the outer dermis. In all his suffering, Nick endured with patience and faith. His wife and daughter were with him as he took his last breath.
Nick Henderson is survived by his wife Ludean Schwab Henderson of Twin Falls, Idaho; son Robert LeVon Henderson (Heather) of Saint George, Utah; daughter Joni Marie Henderson Wintch (Jacob) Bremerton, Washington; 17 grandchildren: Hallie, Jaxon, Autzen, Zoe, Campbell, Livvy, Maverik, and Indie (Henderson); and Deacon, Carson, Sophie, Kessler, Kasper, Oliver, Beck, Clara, and Ruby (Wintch); and all 7 of his siblings: Dixie Lee Partridge, Anita Tanner, Kelly Henderson, Curtis Henderson, Philip Henderson, Jade Henderson, Jeris Shira. He is preceded in death by their parents LeVon and Leath Henderson.
The funeral was in the Smoot-Osmond-Cottonwood wards building on September 25, 2023, with a Schwab Mortuary horse-drawn hearse to burial in the Afton Cemetery. The family wishes to express their appreciation to family, friends, doctors and Hospice Visions for rendering support and kindness during Nick’s illness.