By Paul Durham, Wilson Times.
“Rederick Caswell Henderson, the Wilson native who built a basketball powerhouse at Rocky Mount Senior High, died Friday at the age of 87.
“Reggie Henderson, as he was known, was a 1952 graduate of Darden High in Wilson and a U.S. Air Force veteran. He played basketball at St. Augustine’s College in Raleigh, where he met the love of his life, Beverly Ann Allen. [Actually, they met in Wildwood, New Jersey.]
“Aside from his time in the Air Force and in college, Henderson lived in Wilson his entire life while coaching at the main out-of-town rival school. Like his neighbor and friend Harvey Reid Jr., the coach at Douglass, Elm City and Fike high schools in compiling the most wins in NCHSAA history, Henderson built his own legend at Rocky Mount Senior High. He led the Gryphons to NCHSAA 4-A championships in 1978 and 1982 and his 1981 team lost by three points in the state 4-A final. The star of the 1978 Gryphons was Buck Williams, who was one of the top recruits in the nation as a senior. Williams played at Maryland before starting his long NBA career as the league’s Rookie of the Year in 1982.
“Henderson’s first coaching and teaching job was at Spaulding High in Spring Hope before spending time at both Wilson and Parker junior highs in Rocky Mount, where he coached future North Carolina legend and 1979 NBA Rookie of the Year Phil Ford.
“Henderson stepped away from coaching in 1983 to spend more time with his family. The Hendersons’ oldest daughter, Lisa, was in college at the University of North Carolina and Henderson said he realized that he had missed out on some of her high school years and didn’t want to do the same for youngest daughter, Karla.
“He returned to coaching in 1988 but retired for good after the 1992-93 school year.
“As much as Henderson was known for his successful basketball teams and star players, the quiet, yet intense, coach was better known for setting high standards off the court for his players and creating a family environment.
“‘Coach was a father to a lot of us,’ former point guard Reggie Barrett said in a 2018 interview with the Times. ‘For those who might not have had a father in the home, he was a father. You could go to him to talk about personal stuff. … If you didn’t have lunch money, he would help you out.’
“Henderson was the recipient of many coaching honors during his illustrious career but one of the biggest came last November when he was inducted into the Twin County Hall of Fame. He was the first inductee in 17 years of the hall’s existence who was not a native of Nash or Edgecombe counties.”