Marion Henderson passed peacefully in the early morning of March 7 in Coral Springs, Florida. Marion and her twin sister (Heather-deceased) were born in Ft. Worth, Texas to Amelia and Edward Henderson of Royalty, Texas in 1940. Marion and Heather were athletic, well-liked, and graduated from Grandfalls-Royalty High School in 1958. The twins were inseparable until later in life and even lived together in Georgetown in Washington, D.C. during their first jobs after college. Marion’s independent spirit emerged, and she served on the staff of Representative Ed Steiger of New Mexico in the Congress before moving on to the Federal Aviation Administration. She left the FAA to work first with Eastern Airlines and then with her future husband, Alaska Airlines founder, Charles F. Willis. Marion and Charlie pursued their passion for aviation and business in the 1970s and 1980s in Washington, D.C., in Ghana-West Africa, in Hawaii, and then settled into retirement in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida in the mid-1980s.
“Retirement” included Marion going to law school for a JD and Charlie heading to the Department of Commerce in the George H.W. Bush Administration. Marion and Charlie amicably divorced, and Marion spent the remainder of her years amid good neighbors, the beauty of Ft. Lauderdale, her back yard boat dock facing the canal, and her well-loved cats. Her neighbors fondly recall Marion’s daily habit of walking 10,000 steps and her open arms-and house-for any stray cat or dog needing care or just affection.
Marion earned her Associate of Arts degree from Christian College in Columbia, Missouri in 1960. She completed her undergraduate and graduate work in Economics at the University of Texas at Austin in1962. Marion earned her JD from the University of Miami Law School and was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1990 where she practiced law and retired in good standing. Marion is survived by her brother Robert Henderson, four nieces and nephews, 13 grand-nieces and nephews, and dozens of cousins.
A memorial service will be held at 10:00 a.m. in the Union Church in Grandfalls, Texas on Saturday April 30, 2022, followed by a family gathering at the Monahans Memorial Cemetery where she will be interred with her sister Heather.
The family asks that in lieu of flowers please make a contribution to your local animal shelter in honor of Marion’s abiding love for cats and dogs in need.