Thursday, 13 June 2024

Carolyn Henderson

Carolyn Henderson. Courtesy photo.

Carolyn Marion Henderson
April 25, 1927 — April 25, 2024

KELSEYVILLE, Calif. — Carolyn M. Henderson left us on her 97th birthday. She was a fourth generation member of the pioneer Merritt family who settled in Big Valley in 1871.

Her ancestors owned and farmed the land along the south side of Merritt Road from Adobe Creek to the top of the hill. Her grandfather, Fred Merritt, went into politics, serving first as county assessor, then county clerk for over 20 years. Her mother, Marion Merritt Fraser, lived most of her life on the ranch property, but her career was teaching art and mechanical drawing predominantly at Clear Lake High School.

Carolyn and her older brother, Merritt, grew up on the Merritt Road ranch, which was planted by then in pears and walnuts instead of grain. Carolyn said that it was so quiet in the valley back then that she could sometimes hear the train whistle from Hopland.

She attended local schools, skipping third grade, and graduated with a scholarship to U.C. Berkeley. However, after one year of college she met Robert L. Henderson and married him in the fall of 1945. He was the only child of Lewis Homer Henderson and grandson of Lewis Henderson, one of Lake County's first commercial pear growers.

Bob and Carolyn raised three daughters — Diane, Christine and Melissa — on the original Henderson home ranch in Kelseyville where Bob continued to farm pears. They bought more pear orchards and mountain properties, and Carolyn learned to hunt, fish, ride horses and shoot trap. She learned to haul horses for her girls' Junior Horsemen activities and 4-H animals for the fair. In addition, she became a founding member of the Lake County Chapter of California Women for Agriculture, or CWA.

Following Bob's premature death in 1980, Carolyn not only continued the family farming operation, but also served on the board and one year as president of the former Kelseyville Packing Co. In addition she served as industry representative for the California Tree Fruit Agreement doing radio and television work promoting pears.

In 1982 daughter Diane left a teaching position at Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo to come home and help with the farming. She bought her own orchard to add to the home ranch and within a few years became Carolyn's ranch manager. They made a good team and the ranch survived some rough times and became increasingly productive.

In 1984 Carolyn married Edward A. "Skip" Rohner, a long-time family friend who had also lost his spouse. Together they enjoyed 39 years of hunting, fishing, trapshooting, traveling and entertaining. They greatly enjoyed music and danced beautifully together.

Carolyn Henderson. Courtesy photo.

Carolyn also loved reading, crosswords, tennis, swimming, gardening and feeding the assorted wild birds around her home.

She was stoic in the face of hardships and did her best to look for the positives in life. She had grit — or what she would call "gumption." She never gave up, that is until she lost Skip.

Carolyn is survived by her daughter, Diane Lee Henderson; grandson, Lee Alan Yecny; son-in-law, Alan Keith Yecny; and a niece, two nephews, and several great- and great-great-nephews and nieces.

She was predeceased by her daughters, Christine Henderson Yecny and Melissa Henderson; her granddaughter, Lynn Annette Patten; and her grandson, Keith Henderson Yecny.

A graveside service will be held at 2 p.m. Friday, May 31, in the pavilion at Kelseyville Cemetery. It will be a combined service for both Carolyn and husband Skip Rohner.

Following the service there will be a gathering for refreshments and stories at The Ripe Choice Farm located at 2550 Soda Bay Road.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Martha Stokes Panella Scholarship Fund, which benefits students of Kelseyville High School, or donate to a charity of your choice. To donate to the fund, send a check made out to U.S. Charitable Gift Trust and designate the Martha Stokes Panella Memorial Scholarship Fund. Mail to Strong Financial, P.O. Box 670, Lakeport, CA 95453.

Upcoming Calendar

13Jun
06.13.2024 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Middletown Area Town Hall
14Jun
06.14.2024
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14Jun
06.14.2024 3:00 pm - 9:00 pm
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14Jun
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14Jun
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Kelseyville High School commencement ceremony
15Jun
06.15.2024
Senior Days
15Jun
06.15.2024 8:00 am - 06.16.2024 1:00 am
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15Jun
06.15.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
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06.16.2024
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16Jun
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