Councilwoman found dead: Henderson sought to ‘give a voice to the voiceless’
Published 8:28 pm Wednesday, September 7, 2016
Troy city councilwoman Dejerilyn King Henderson was found dead in her home on Wednesday.
Henderson, who was just elected to her second term in office, was found around 4:15 p.m. at her home on Montgomery Street.
“We don’t suspect foul play at this time,” said Troy Police Chief Randall Barr. “But we’re going to thoroughly investigate and make sure we do everything right.”
Officials said Henderson’s daughter had gone to the home to check on her mother Wednesday afternoon.
“The residence was secured when she got there and we don’t suspect any foul play at this time,” Barr said. “However, we want to be absolutely certain that this was natural causes so an autopsy will be conducted.
“Our condolences go out to her family. We know this is difficult,” he added.
Henderson, 59, was elected to the Troy City Council in 2010 and was re-elected in August.
In a questionnaire she completed during the recent election, Henderson outlined her reasons for seeking to serve in public office. “I have so much more service to give,” she said.
“The people, especially the voters, realize that I’m simply trying to give a voice to those who for so long have felt voiceless,.”
During her time on the council, she facilitated town hall meetings with the voters in District 5, offering a forum to discuss their concerns and city government issues. She also began a monthly recognition program, honoring either a yard of the month recipient in her district or recognizing outstanding African American students and youngsters from throughout the city.
Henderson’s time on the council was not without conflict. She sued the mayor and her fellow council members earlier this year over alleged violations of the state’s Open Meetings Act.
She was integral in a series of lawsuits filed earlier this year over the methods used to hire a new fire chief and the council’s meeting practices.
She also was active in bringing litigation against the Troy City Schools in 2013 that changed the way students were assigned to classrooms and eliminated the practice of allowing parents to request child classroom placement.
Henderson was a 1975 graduate of Charles Henderson High School and earned a bachelor’s degree from Faulkner University and a master’s degree from Troy State University.
She taught for more than 33 years in the public school system, retiring in 2012 after teaching first grade at Troy Elementary School for more than 14 years. She served more than 20 years in the United States Army Reserve and retired in 2001 as a staff sergeant.
Henderson was active politically and socially, serving as a member of the Pike County Democratic Executive Committee since 1990.
In 2012, she served on the Alabama Democratic Executive Committee. She was active in the Alabama League of Municipalities and served on committees with the National League of Municipalities.
“We are saddened to learn of the death of Councilwoman Dejerilyn Henderson. She was very passionate and hard working.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with her family at this difficult time. I have ordered that all City of Troy flags be lowered to half staff in her honor,” said Mayor Jason A. Reeves.