Jim Henry's wife & mother enter heaven in 5-day span

Jeanette Henry shares in a celebration of her husband Jim’s 28 years as pastor of First Baptist Church in Orlando, Fla., prior to his retirement there in 2006.
BP file photo.
ORLANDO, Fla. (BP) -- In five days, Jim Henry has witnessed the homegoing of his wife Jeanette and mother Kathryn.

Jeanette, 79, died today (Feb. 4) in the early morning hours in Orlando, Fla.; Kathryn, 100, died Thursday, Jan. 31, in Nashville.

Jim Henry was president of the Southern Baptist Convention from 1994-1996; pastor of First Baptist Church in Orlando from 1977 until his retirement in 2006, or what he called his "redeployment"; and pastor of Downtown Baptist Church in Orlando from 2015 until recently.

Jeanette Henry was honored by the Southern Baptist Ministers' Wives Conference during the 2002 SBC annual meeting in St. Louis, receiving the Willie Turner Dawson Award for "distinct denominational contribution beyond the local church."

In a March 2006 celebration honoring the 28 years she and Jim served at First Baptist Orlando, an endowment in her name was announced to assist pastors' wives in attending the Florida Baptist State Convention's annual meeting.

Henry, in his 2006 retirement from First Baptist Orlando, cited two reasons. One, he wanted to spend more time with Jeanette who had faced health problems in recent years.

"She's been a great trooper. I want to give her what she so richly deserves," Henry said.

Two, Henry said he didn't want to stay at the church "until I was so tired and spent that I had nothing left to give back to the next generation of leadership."

Steve Smith, who served as First Baptist's communications pastor from 1994-2007, said Jeanette Henry was "one of the most gracious ladies I've known, and she had a great sense of humor. Though a consummate southern lady from Kentucky, she was also a 'tell-it-like-it-is' person. She didn't mince words. She loved and supported Jim's ministry as a devoted wife and mother to their children and grandchildren."

Smith, now communications minister at the Nashville-area Brentwood Baptist Church, recounted "the privilege of producing a video of Jim's and Jeanette's life story as part of Jim's 'redeployment' from First Baptist Orlando. That experience provided me an intimate look at their lives and their families. Their devotion to one another through the tougher times and in the best of times was so evident.

"That video project also included traveling to Nashville to interview Jim's precious mother, Kathryn," Smith said. "At that time, she would have been about 87 years old and was still living alone in her own home, not far from the Opryland Hotel where she had worked in a retail shop well into her 80s. It was evident where Jim Henry had gotten his good genes, as he, now in his 80s, is a picture of health and vitality."

In addition to her husband, Jeanette Henry is survived by three children, Kate Campbell, Betsy de Armas and Jim; five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Kathryn Henry
Photo submitted
Kathryn Henry, in addition to her son Jim, is survived by another son, Joe; five grandchildren; 11 great-grandchildren; and five great-great-grandchildren.

Kathryn Henry, according to a family obituary, was a native of Robertson County, Tenn., who accepted Jesus as her personal Savior at age 9 "and had the unique joy of being baptized with her father" at Hopewell Baptist Church.

In church, she worked in Sunday School with students and was a church secretary at First Baptist in Nashville and Eastland and Dalewood Baptist churches.

The funeral service for Jeanette Henry will be at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16, in the worship center of First Baptist Orlando, followed by a reception. Visitation will be from 6-9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15, at First Baptist's Henry Chapel.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested gifts to the First Academy student scholarship fund at First Baptist; the Jeanette Henry Ministers Wives Endowment Fund care of the First Orlando Foundation; and the Henry-Sturgeon Presidential Scholarship at Gateway Seminary in Ontario, Calif.

The funeral service for Kathryn Henry will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 9, at First Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn. Visitation will be from 6-9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8, at Spring Hill Cemetery in Nashville.

In lieu of flowers memorial gifts for Kathryn Henry can be made to the Henry-Sturgeon Presidential Scholarship at Gateway Seminary and the missions ministry at First Baptist Church in Hendersonville.

Art Toalston is senior editor of Baptist Press.
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