Mary Etta Henderson

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Mary Etta Henderson, youngest child of Persis Jones and Aaron Robinson Henderson, was born January 9, 1922, in Groesbeck, Texas, and died August 3, 1971, in Huntsville, Alabama. She was married December 24, 1941, in Groesbeck, Texas, to Francis Howard Wilson, Jr. (born June 5, 1920, in Camp Furlong, New Mexico, and died October 17, 1988, in Huntsville, Alabama. Their only child, Francis Howard Wilson, III, was born February 12, 1946, in San Antonio, Texas.

Note: Story from 1996 Arthur Jones Family Scrapbook.

Mary Etta Henderson attended Southwest Texas State Teachers College for two years while Howard graduated June 5, 1941, from Texas A&M University as a Second Lieutenant with a major in English. Throughout his life and that of his father, both men were superb students of language. Within two weeks of their marriage, Howard was sent to Hawaii. He returned to the mainland in April 1945 and was assigned to Fort Sam Houston. Their only child, F. H. Wilson, III, “Howie,” was born at Brooke General Hospital February 12, 1946. That spring they were assigned to the Test Board (Ordinance) at Fort Benning, Georgia, with a year’s TDY?at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin. There’s a snapshot of Howie in a stroller in three feet of snow in Spring 1947! Back at Fort Benning, Howie recalls being locked in a closet by his Henderson cousins, Mary Ann and Robin.

The family spent two years at Fort MacPherson, Georgia. Then Howard was shipped to Korea for 18 months. Mary and Howie stayed in Austin, Texas, where “Pops” Henderson was a member of the state Legislature. In 1954 Mary and Howie joined Howard in Tokyo. Then followed assignments in Amarillo, Texas, at the Pantex Plant, and three years in Germany at the Inspector General’s staff headquarters in Heidelberg.

From 1957-1960 Howard was assigned to White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, and then to Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, where Howard retired in 1966. He went to work for various aerospace firms. He worked with the VonBraun Rocket Team on Apollo V, which went to the moon. Huntsville is a city of 170,000 and the space capital of the world. It is home to the Space and Rocket Museum and the famous Space Camp for students.

Mary died of heart fibrilation August 3, 1971; she is buried in Maple Hill Cemetery in Huntsville.

Howard married Ann Salisbury Cutting Peterson October 9, 1971, in San Diego, California. She brought three children into the marriage and reports Howard was a great and loving stepfather. They lived in Huntsville where Howard continued working until his retirement February 9, 1988. Eight months later, October 17, 1988, he suffered a heart attack and died during surgery. He was cremated, and his remains are in the columbarium of St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Huntsville.

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