Frank E. Henderson 1928-2012

Posted January 8, 2013 at 4:47 pm

Frank E. Henderson 1928-2012

OBIT Henderson.jpg

HILL CITY – Frank E. “Rudy” Henderson, 84, died peacefully on December 28, 2012.  A passionate and larger-than-life figure, he influenced his family, the military, the law, and the State of South Dakota for over eight decades.  

Christian Burial Mass was offered Wednesday, Jan. 2, at Saint Rose of Lima Catholic Church with Rev. Timothy Castor presiding.

Interment was at the Hill City Cemetery with military honors provided by the TREA Honor Guard and the South Dakota Army National Guard.

Memorial donations may be made to the Henderson Hill City Scholarship Fund and the DAV Transportation Fund.

Justice Henderson was born in Miller, S.D. on April 7, 1928, to Frank Henderson II, a railroad worker, and Hilda Bogstad Henderson, a recent immigrant from Norway. He grew to be a three-sport letterman for the Miller Rustlers and All-State athlete in basketball, football and track. He attended the University of South Dakota on a basketball scholarship where he also competed in track and field and football. He was a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity. He completed law school at USD, then immediately left to serve in the United States Army.

The Korean Conflict had a profound impact on Justice Henderson.  He served as an officer, and never forgot the pain of a war that left many of his troops behind.  He remained a strong patriot throughout life, with ties to the American Legion, the Disabled American Veterans, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. 

Upon his return from Korea, Henderson began law practice in Rapid City where he was a trial attorney for several years.  Later, he moved his office to Hill City where the Henderson family came to reside. He twice served as State Senator for Pennington County, and served as a U.S. Commissioner.  In the ‘70s, Henderson became a Circuit Court Judge.  As Judge, he sat on the benches of Pennington, Custer and Fall River Counties. In 1979, Judge Henderson became Justice Henderson, ascending to the South Dakota Supreme Court where he dedicated himself to highest standards of legal research in rendering decisions, several of which were cited by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Justice Henderson experienced many professional and personal associations with the native peoples of South Dakota for whom he championed just and equitable treatment. One of his proudest life honors bestowed upon him was honorary membership in the Lakota Tribe.

“The Judge” loved working horses and cattle, and particularly loved Appaloosa horses. People traveling through the Black Hills in spring and summer often stopped to watch flashily colored Appaloosa colts cavorting in his pastures, and he enthusiastically told them about this passion. He was also expressive about the beauty of the Black Hills and felt forever blessed by his ranch, the Hills, and the great state of South Dakota.

Most of all, Henderson appreciated his kind and capable wife, Norma Jean Henderson, with whom he was married for 56 years, and the family they raised. Frank and Normas’ eight children are Frank, Kimberly, Patrick, Andrea, Eric, John, Anastasia and Matthew.  The Hendersons have 22 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Frank Henderson was a faithful and reverent man, expressly grateful to God for family and the diverse opportunities given him to serve God’s creation. 

His online guestbook is available to sign at

(Paid obituary)