In a joint memorial service today, David Henderson and Edie Yates Henderson were remembered as fiercely intelligent, compassionate, adventurous and determined individuals who found contentment in family and each other.
The Rev. Tim Nunez, who knew them individually for several decades before they married eight years ago, called the Hendersons “builders of organizations and community” and described them with the adjectives kind, gentle, thoughtful, smart, loving, and giving.
“Whenever I had a conversation with either of them, I always had a sense that they were a little bit above and beyond where I was and that they understood the whole universe and what was going on better than I did,” he said.
Close friends and family socially distanced in the sanctuary of All Saints Episcopal Church this morning for the one-hour, 20-minute service, which was live-streamed and video recorded:
A public celebration of life is tentatively scheduled for Dec. 14, with details coming later.
The Hendersons died at the hands of an intruder into their Lake Morton home on the morning of Nov. 10. Police arrested a 36-year-old career criminal in the case a day and a half later and he was indicted this week on multiple charges in the case, including first-degree murder.
Nunez, a longtime Lakelander and currently rector of Church of the Good Shepherd in Lake Wales, knew Edie Henderson through his former profession as a certified public accountant. Henderson, also a CPA, was managing director of the Baylis & Co. CPA/financial planning firm, and is probably best-known as a 12-year member of the Lakeland City Commission.
“I used to remark that for my money, Edie was the smartest CPA in town — which when that got back to my partners, it irritated them greatly,” he said.
And Nunez said he knew David Henderson as a former neighbor whom he liked to chat with at the end of the driveway or the porch at Molly McHugh’s Irish Pub. “We had a lot of good conversations and some of them were very important conversations,” he said.
The couple were remembered through eulogies from several friends and family memories.
Steve Saunders, a retired Dallas executive who worked with David Henderson early in his career, said his friend was intense, competitive, lived each day to its fullest, was afraid of nothing and formed deep friendships.
He recounted Henderson’s career progression: GE management trainee, HVAC contractor, taxi driver, law student, assistant public defender, criminal defense lawyer, personal injury lawyer, product liability lawyer “culminating his legal career with the Polk County Courthouse mold case,” junior partner in a small real estate development firm, equal partner, independent developer, bank co-founder.
After two previous marriages, Henderson’s time with Edie Yates, he said, “became the happiest and most content time of his life. For David, Edie was a calm and relaxing force. When I asked Edie directly, ‘Just what is it that you see in this guy?’ Edie laughed. She said, ‘He’s just so much fun!’ “
Angela Duboy Dewrell said she first met Edie Henderson 18 years ago when she and her brother and sister, all scared teens, visited the CPA in her office for financial guidance after both of their parents and their younger brother died in a plane crash. Henderson became a trusted confidant who helped her make life decisions, she said:
“She stood strong in our corner helping us navigate everything that came our way. The first question often asked when my siblings and I were pondering a big decision would often be, ‘Have you talked to Edie? What does she think?” She made us a priority and always had our best interests at heart.”
To Henderson’s son, Todd Baylis, a former class mate of Dewrell’s brother, A.J., she said: “A,J., Kristine and I are so grateful to you. Thanks for allowing us to crash a family vacation or two and for sharing your mother with us for the past 18 years.”
Karen Ivy Meeks, a Bartow attorney, said she’s been friends with David Henderson since meeting him 37 years ago on her first day at the University of Mississippi Law School.
She called him a “bigger-than-life character” who possessed tremendous self-confidence, intellect and a driving work ethic: “He didn’t perceive that he would fail at anything.”
She told a story about law school in the 1980s. “One day, he said, ‘Let’s go to Florida and find jobs.” She responded that it would be easier for a blond-haired guy like him than for her, a woman from a minority background. “He went to Florida, came back with a job for himself and handed me a sheet of paper and said, ‘I found a job for you.’ He just didn’t think anything was impossible.”
The Rev. Claudia Sanow Henderson of Tampa, who was joined in officiating the service by Nunez and The Rev. Reid Hensarling of All Saints’, read a letter written by the Henderson’s grandchildren, ages 5 and 2:
“I love you so much and I care about you, too. You are so sweet and I love eating Thanksgiving dinner with you and I will miss eating Sunday dinner with you. I will miss going to the Yacht Club pool and I will miss going to Grandpa’s construction site with you. I love Grandma and I love Grandpa. I will miss you forever.”
Austin Maslanik, a retired assistant public defender, said his friendship with David Henderson extended well beyond the time they worked together in Bartow 35 years ago.
He spoke of David and Edie’s shared love of music and his and David’s shared love of sports. The pair of them, he said, have provided care and support to him this year since the death of his wife, Howardene Garrett, also a career assistant public defender.
The Hendersons’ “lives were filled with family, fun, travel, the Bucs, the Rays and the excitement of revitalizing the Terrace Hotel,” he said. The couple were the lead investors in a five-person team who recently purchased downtown Lakeland’s Terrace Hotel with plans to renovate its rooms and restaurant.
Steve Boyington, an architect and the Hendersons’ next-door neighbor in twin Italian villa-style homes on Lake Morton, said he has known Edie Henderson for more than 40 years.
Boyington’s father hired a then-young Edie as an internal auditor at what was then called Lakeland General Hospital, he said, and recently told him it was the best hiring decision he ever made. “She was young and principled and wasn’t going to be taken in by the good old ways things had been done.”
Boyington recalled Henderson telling him he was interested in starting a bank. “I encouraged him to get to know and involve Steve Baylis,” Edie’s late husband. “They quickly became friends and would walk Lake Morton in the morning and would exchange ideas and frustrations.”
The friendship continued until Steve Baylis’ death from cancer in 2010 at age 56. And then Edie’s and David’s friendship eventually blossomed into marriage, he recounted. “David gave Edie permission to have fun again,” he said.
Saunders, the retired Dallas business executive, read a statement from David Henderson’s son, Will Henderson, recounting the extremes his dad took to make sure they could spend time together, including weekly dinners in Tampa, where Will lives.
Rev. Nunez read a statement from Todd Baylis, expressing admiration that his mom “would always speak her mind and stand up for what she believed even if it wasn’t popular, mainstream or easily understood … She had a way of simplifying complex topics or concepts into real-world analogies or stories that helped non-experts understand.”
His mom, Todd Baylis said, “was actually the biggest risk taker in the family.” She spearheaded the Terrace Hotel project after seeing a single e-mail about it despite a pandemic that imploded the hospitality industry, he said.
“She was a loving wife, sister, friend, mother, grandmother, and mentor, not just to me and our family but to our entire community.”