Bryant city alderman finds security in his death

Sarah Perry
Staff Writer

Everyone wants to look back on life and be happy with what they have accomplished. Bryant Alderman Jerry Henson, knowing his days are limited, is happy with his life.
Henson said all of his life he has been very insecure and did not feel like he was worthy of anything. Every time he was ever recognized or commended, he would become embarrassed because he believes he did not deserve such an honor.

When he received the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bryant Hometown Hero award, he knew the system had to be rigged.
"Y'all got me mixed up with someone else," Henson said.

Now, after being told a month and a half ago that he only had a few months left to live, he has a different outlook on life.
Henson's health problems stem from a surgery he had in 2001. Because of complications, he has had 18 additional surgeries on his abdomen.
He has spent much of the last 18 years in a hospital, but eventually, through that experience, he learned that he was being used by God to inspire people.

Last November, he began having a different pain in his stomach so he met with his doctor. He received a CT scan and doctors found six lesions and a tumor about the size of a golfball on his kidney.
Even before the doctor told him the results, Henson knew something was wrong. He was diagnosed with stage 4 liver cancer.
He went through three rounds of chemotherapy, but the disease only worsened.

Now that his liver is starting to shut down, he has been able to look back on his life and accept his unavoidable death.
"I do have a legacy," he said. "I do have things that I have accomplished in my life and that I'm proud of."
Henson said that "a huge boulder has been lifted off of my shoulders." He has realized that he is worthy and "that's pretty cool," he said.

Even though Henson is happy about the life he has lived, he does have one more goal to achieve. He would like to find someone with the passion and means to assist the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bryant.
"I would love to go out knowing that the (Clubs) are going to be taken care of," he said.
Henson said he became involved with the youth organization shortly after he was elected to the council. He was trying to get more involved in the community when he began mentoring students there. He said he was drawn to the Clubs.
"It's a special place. They do so much good stuff on a shoestring budget," he said.

Recently, Henson was awarded the Charles Broadway Community Excellence Award for his service to the clubs.
This award is not given out on a schedule, but instead only given "when it is earned," said Bryant Mayor Jill Dabbs.
Despite years of health issues, Henson is known in Bryant for his desire to help and serve others, including the children at the Clubs.
"He is just one of those people who quietly gets up each day and tries to make a difference," Dabbs said. "Jerry never has an excuse to not serve"

Many of Henson's fellow council members said kind words about him as well.
"Jerry is a very honest person and would do whatever possible to help anyone. I attend church with Jerry and am sure that he is a true Christian with a strong heart. I’m proud to be able to call Jerry a friend," said Wade Permenter.
Alderman Carlton Billingsley said he met Henson after they had both been elected to the council in 2014, but he has really enjoyed their time together.
"In that time, (Henson) has had an impact on my life," Billingsley said. "I'm a better person being around Jerry."
Alderman Butch Higginbotham agreed.
"He simply inspires you to be a better person," Higginbotham said.
Alderman Rob Roedel said he and Henson have become friends during their time on the council, and through experiences with health issues.
"His level of passion fuels his desire to truly represent the (residents) of Bryant. His selfless service illustrates what it means to be a public servant," Roedel said. "A few years back, he and I shared life-threatening illness experiences and actually prayed for each other. He is continuing the charge from our Heavenly Father to serve others despite the relapse in his health. He is an inspiration to his fellow man and future generations."

Of all the things Henson has accomplished in his life, he said he is proudest of his family.
He and his wife, Star, have two children, LJ Henson (Jessica) and Stephanie Powell (Les). They also have three grandchildren, Grayson Henson, 11, Bryson Powell, 8, and Brooklyn Powell, 15.

Recently, Bryson learned that his teacher's father had died. He wrote a card for her that described Heaven.
"Your dad is in a better place … A place with endless life. A place with love and joy. A place where someday you will be united with all God's people, including your dad," Grayson wrote.
Henson said he was proud of his grandson's writing and is OK with going to that place too.

He added that he would like people to pray for his family.
Henson said that his wife is strong, but the situation is difficult for her.
"This isn't about me right now, it's about her … We know this fight is not winnable unless God decides to change his mind," Henson said. "This isn't the end of her life. I don't want it to be."