Don Henderson, Wittenberg class of 1954 and one of the most successful high school basketball and baseball coaches in Springfield history, died at the age of 87 on Saturday, July 8, following a long illness.
Henderson spent 36 years as a mathematics teacher and coach in the Springfield City School District. Upon his retirement in 1989, he went on to be elected to the Springfield City Schools' Board of Education, serving as president.
Henderson was an all-state high school basketball player at Cadiz High School before spending four years in the Air Force and then enrolling at Wittenberg in 1950. He earned eight letters in baseball, basketball and football at Wittenberg and was later elected into the university’s Athletics Hall of Honor in 1996. Henderson also served his alma mater for nearly 20 years as a member of the Athletics Hall of Honor Committee.
As coach of the Springfield North’s boys’ basketball team from 1960-1989, he led the Panthers to two undefeated regular seasons, six Western Ohio League championships and four district titles. Henderson also coached five all-state basketball players, including a pair of Ohio players of the year, and he led the Panthers to a 65-5 record in one phenomenal three-year stretch. He tallied 368 overall wins.
Also North’s head baseball coach for 22 years, Henderson was a member of the Miami Valley Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. In addition, he, along with Doc Daugherty, had the vision to gather the people and resources to start the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame (OBHOF), which was created in 2005 to recognize the achievements of both male and female basketball players in high school, college and professional basketball, successful coaches on all levels, and those who have impacted the game. Since then, the OBHOF has enshrined 215 individuals and 30 teams. Henderson brought his leadership as president and chairman of OBHOF's Board of Trustees from 2005-2015 and was an integral force behind the organization's development and success. He was inducted into the OBHOF in 2010.
Earlier this year, Henderson received the Ohio Heritage Award, which is bestowed on individuals who exemplify the true character of the game and who have had a significant impact on Ohio after his or her basketball career has ended. Previous recipients include Oscar Robertson, Bob Knight, Katie Smith, Wayne Embry and Jerry Lucas.
In 2016, Henderson was named the recipient of the Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Association’s (OHSBCA) Hall of Honor, an award given to individuals who provide exemplary service to high school basketball. He was elected to the OHSBCA Hall of Fame in 1991 after working as director of the OHSBCA’s District 9 from 1976-87 and organizing the District 9 All-Star game for nearly 30 years.
A celebration of Henderson’s life will take place at 4 p.m. on Thursday, July 13, at the Fellowship Church, 2301 Valley Loop Rd., Springfield. The family will receive friends beginning at 1 p.m. until the time of the service.
Memorial contributions can be made to the Don Henderson Memorial Fund, c/o the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame, 1880 Pinehurst Drive, Springfield, Ohio 45502. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations be made to the OBHOF for a memorial fund in Henderson's memory.