In Memory of
Henry "Hank" Fairfax Henderson Jr.
March 8, 2018
F. Henderson Jr. Engineer and founder of industrial
company, Port Authority commissioner and director on
corporate boards Henry F. Henderson, Jr., 90, of
Woodland Park, N.J., passed suddenly on March 8, 2018.
survived by his wife of 69 years, Ethel; his daughter,
Kathy Carter; his son, Kenneth (Eileen); daughter Beth
LaFountain (Fred), and six grandchildren, Evan, Brian,
Erika, Danielle, Marshall and Melissa. He was
predeceased by his son, David. Henry graduated from
State University of NY- Alfred, with additional studies
at William Paterson, Seton Hall and NYU. He held
honorary degrees from Kean University, Stevens Institute
and State University of NY.
as a commissioner on The Port Authority of New York &
New Jersey and also served on the Paterson Economic
Development Corp., as chairman of the Essex County
Economic Development Corp., and Regional Plan
Association. He was a director on the General Public
Utility Board, Delta Dental of NJ, NJ State Chamber of
Commerce, Partnership for NJ, and Stevens Institute of
as an engineer at Howe Richardson Scale and in 1954
founded Henderson Industries. He was an accomplished
pilot and had authored many articles on trade, education
and affirmative action. He also was an avid fisherman.
He served for many years as a volunteer for the West
Paterson Fire Co. His funeral will be held at the
Martin's Home For Service Inc., 48 Elm St., Montclair,
N.J., on Sunday, March 25, from 3 to 6 p.m.
Published in Star-Ledger from Mar.
23 to Mar. 24, 2018
Sunday March 25, 2018
3:00pm - 6:00pm
Martin's Home for Service
48 Elm St.
Montclair, NJ 07042
the man sworn in as the newest commissioner of the Port
Authority of New York and New Jersey attributes his
success in both business and public life to drive and a
dedication to succeed.
''Drive is that which makes you work 12 to 14 hours a
day,'' Henry Fairfax Henderson Jr. said in a NYT
interview in his office here. ''It is taking calculated
risks, analyzing them and saying, 'Yes there is a risk
but if I am to achieve it, I must take that risk.'
''It is being prepared for failure and, if you do have a
failure, of being able to minimize its extent and
immediately strike out again.''
Mr. Henderson recalled some of his early failures and
said that perhaps they were the best things that had
happened to him.
In his first job after graduating from the State
University of New York Agricultural and Technical
Institute at Alfred, N.Y., in 1950, he said, he was
turned down for a promised promotion because he was
black. He left the company and, later, was rejected for
a job that seemed tailor- made for him.
Those experiences, he said, made him determined to go
into business for himself.
''Like all bad things,'' he said, ''it had a good side.
If I had stayed (at the first company), I'm not sure
whether I would have gone into business.''
He now heads Henderson Industries, which designs and
manufactures control panels for atomic power plants and
water treatment facilities and computerized weighing
equipment. It also designs, makes, sells and services
control systems, computers and robots for industry and
navigational systems for the Army.
From its start as a one-man operation in a basement and
garage on Rifle Camp Road here, the company has become,
with 75 employees and annual sales of more than $8
million, one of the nation's leading minority- owned
Mr. Henderson's new role will put him on the board of
the agency that owns the World Trade Center, operates
airports, bridges and tunnels in the New York
metropolitan area and runs the PATH lines. The bi-state
authority also is becoming involved in international
exports, an area to which Mr. Henderson will bring
experience; he has traveled extensively to the Soviet
Union and the Far East as a member of trade missions and
as vice-chairman of the New Jersey District Export
Council and as a small businessman.
The Board of Commissioners, which meets once a month and
at other times when necessary, comprises 12 members -
six from each state. They are appointed by the Governors
of the respective states with the consent of the Senate
of each, and serve overlapping six-year terms. The
commissioners, who receive no salary, elect the board
Mr. Henderson, who carries his 6-foot, 200-pound frame
with athletic ease, said that his drive to succeed had
''sort of put blinders on me.''
''When I set out a particular goal,'' he said, ''I make
sure I attain it, if at all possible, and not get
distracted or sidetracked by things that may have little
effect on the end result.''
He said that at age 40 he decided he wanted to learn to
fly. ''It was something new, a new adventure for me,''
he said. He got a pilot's license, then went on to earn
a multi-engine license. In 1981, at the age of 53, he
began flying the company's twin-engine Aztec.
Mr. Henderson, who is married and has four children -
two are in the family business, one is married and
raising a family and one is still in college - said that
his business successes had given him the time ''to do
some of the other things I've wanted to do.''
He is on an advisory committee of St. Vincent's School,
a girls school in Newark, has worked with the Newark
Board of Education on its aviation curriculum, has
served on the advisory board of the World Trade
Institute, an arm of the Port Authority, and is chairman
of the executive committee of the Coalition of Northeast
After his father died recently, he started a scholarship
fund for St. Vincent's students by having mourners
contribute to the fund rather than send flowers.
Although he is an enrolled Republican and is active in
politics - ''because I want to make New Jersey a better
place in which to live'' - he played no role in Mr.
Kean's gubernatorial campaign, he said, because he was
overseas on a trade mission.
He said he saw state politics as ''somewhat separate''
from national politics, and he took issue with some
Reagan Administration's actions, saying: ''I don't think
we should use trade as a club over someone's head to get
them to act in any way that our Government wants them to
The relationship that the Port Authority developed
resulted from Henderson being appointed as a
commissioner of the Port Authority of New York and New
Jersey in 1983 by Governor Kean of New Jersey. Henderson
was the first African-American to occupy this unsalaried
position, and he used this opportunity to introduce new
concerns, such as the development of venture capital
investments for local business and efforts to further a
policy of affirmative action for minority participation
in business. Peter Goldmark of the Authority, who was
impressed with Henderson's ability, praised him in the
following manner: "He is a very pragmatic, very
tough-minded man. He participates in all the difficult
issues." Henderson was also appointed to head the Essex
County Economic Development Commission, responsible for
making capital more accessible to local businesses and
attracting businesses into the area and establishing a
successful resource network. It was an astute
appointment because Henderson is deeply committed to the
state of New Jersey.
On a personal level, Henry Henderson has received
numerous distinguished awards: In 1985 he was named
Small Business Person of the Year, and in the same year
he was cited by the New Jersey Business and Industry
Association as the Distinguished Business Citizen of the
Year in 1986 he received the National Black MBA
Association's award for outstanding contributions to the
business community. He has achieved his overall goal of
maintaining a solid reputation as a person who has been
effective in helping minority entrepreneurs and all
working people in the metropolitan New Jersey area to
better themselves through his involvement in the Port
Authority and other organizations that are helping
His zest for life continues as he approaches his later
years, flying his private plane, and enthusiastically
taking pride in his accomplishments. This is shown when
he responded to a question about how he feels when he
sees the huge Henderson industries sign above the
headquarters' entrance each morning: "!t feels fantastic
and I have to pinch myself.