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Memorial for Reverend Dolores Helena Johnson Henderson

Born in Elizabeth, New Jersey on Nov. 16, 1935
Departed on May 17, 2013 and resided in , .
Visitation: Thursday, May 23, 2013
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Please click on the links above for locations, times, maps, and directions.


Reverend Dolores Helena Johnson Henderson was born on November 16, 1935 in Elizabeth, New Jersey, daughter of Viola Helena Davis Johnson and Rev. Henry Wise Johnson, and the youngest of their eight children. She was named Dolores by her sisters. Dolores grew up in Roselle, NJ and was graduated from Abraham Clark High School where she excelled not only in her academics and music, but also in softball, track, lacrosse and soccer. Dolores had also been the captain of the debate team.

Dolores, in fact, so greatly excelled at sports that she was given a full athletic scholarship to attend Barnard College (New York, NY) and began her studies of the sciences there. Following graduation, she earned a masters degree in biology from New York University, and then spent several years working in community health and family planning. She also held the elected position of Coroner in Union County (NJ), the first woman to do so.

In 1970, she turned her brilliant mind to another frontier and competed on the television game show Jeopardy! She was a five-time champion and returned to the show's Tournament of Champions in 1971. She won that, too.

In 1984, she became an investigator for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, also working as the Federal Woman's Program manager there.

Dolores then, (having been a lay member of Grace United Methodist Church (Brooklyn, NY) for 26 years) heard and heeded the call of God and joined the ministry. She was following in the footsteps of her Baptist minister father, as well as her grandfather Rev. Joseph Lockwood Davis, uncle Rev. Joseph Norwood Davis and aunt Rev. Mary Davis Hundley (all of whom were Methodist Episcopal Elders). She earned the Masters in Divinity degree from New York Theological Seminary in 1991. Rev. Henderson's first appointment was as Assistant Pastor of Vanderveer Park United Methodist Church (Brooklyn, NY) in 1990. She was next appointed to Trinity United Methodist Church (City Island, Bronx, NY), where she served for for three years. Rev. Henderson then served as the pastor of Freeport (Long Island, NY) United Methodist Church from 1994 -1997. Her tenure as Superintendent of Metropolitan South District (the first African-American woman to be appointed as a District Superintendent in the New York Annual Conference), began on July 1, 1997 and continued for 7 years before she attempted to retire. However, she was called out of retirement to return to Freeport before she was assigned to pastor the St. James United Methodist Church (St. James, NY), where she served for 4 years until her death.

Dolores married Maurice A. Henderson on July 4, 1964; from that union was born one child -- Mary Theresa Henderson. After her beloved Mary's passing, Dolores was very proud to be able to raise her granddaughter Mara, who attends Widener University (Chester, PA).

Following in another family tradition, Dolores was an avid (some might say rabid!) New York Giants fan and was a long-time fan of the New York Yankees as well. She had a beautiful Alto voice, and sang in the Gospel Choir at Second Baptist Church (Roselle, NJ) with her mother. She was often heard singing solos and duets in churches and in the homes of friends and family. Dolores especially adored the sacred poetry of Isaac Watts and the music of the Psalms.

Dolores Helena Johnson Henderson moved from the parsonage of St. James United Methodist Church to her mansion in the sky when she passed away on Friday, May 17, 2013 at the age of 77. She was predeceased by her parents and her seven siblings: Frances Naomi Johnson, Beulah M. Johnson, Iva M. Johnson, Mabel L. Johnson, Henry Raymond Johnson, Thelma Viola Smith and Randolph Leroy Johnson.

Dolores is survived by her granddaughter, Mara Helena Rani Watkins; a devoted niece, Viola Johnson; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives and friends. The void felt by family, friends, congregants, colleagues, and everyone she touched will only be filled by her memory.

This Online Memorial has been created to commemorate the life of Reverend Dolores Helena Johnson Henderson. You are invited to add a Tribute in her memory. Please click "Sign Guestbook" below to add your own memories, reflections, thoughts or condolences.

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