Girard B. Henderson

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Jerry Henderson
Jerry henderson portrait.gif
Girard Brown Henderson

February 25, 1905
DiedNovember 16, 1983
Cause of deathMyocardial infarction
ResidenceSuffern, New York
OccupationBusinessman, Philanthropist
TitleFounder and CEO,
Alexander Dawson Foundation
CEO, Alexander Dawson Inc.
Board member ofAvon Products
Spouse(s)Theodora G. Huntington
Mary Franklin
ChildrenTheodora G. Henderson
Dariel Ann Henderson

Girard Brown Henderson (February 25, 1905 – November 16, 1983) was an American business executive and philanthropist. He is best known as a director of Avon Products and the founder of the Alexander Dawson Schools.

Early life[edit]

Girard Henderson (Jerry) was born on February 25, 1905, in Brooklyn, New York. He was the son of Alexander D. Henderson and Ella M. Brown. In 1910, the family moved from Brooklyn to Suffern, New York. Jerry Henderson went to the Suffern Grammar School and later went to a Catholic convent school called the Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus. He continued his education at the preparatory Storm King School in Cornwall On Hudson, New York. He was captain of the football team and graduated in the class of 1923. In 1925, Henderson was accepted to Dartmouth College, but only attended his freshman year.

In 1925, Henderson got his first commercial job as a shipping clerk at the Cheney Silk Company in New York City. In 1927, Jerry sold pots and pans of cast aluminum door-to-door for the Club Aluminum Company. In 1927, Henderson married Theodora Gregson Huntington from Spring Valley, New York, which was located five miles north of Suffern. They had two children, Theodora and Dariel. They divorced in 1960. In 1928, Henderson took a job with a stock brokerage firm in Paterson, New Jersey at $110 a week. When the stock market crashed in 1929, he worked selling life insurance for the Phoenix Mutual Insurance Company. [1]

Professional background[edit]

Avon Products[edit]

In the 1930s, Henderson flew a Beechcraft Model 17 Staggerwing airplane for David H. McConnell, president of the California Perfume Company. The company chartered Jerry's plane to transport executives going from Philadelphia and Albany on business.[2] In 1933, Henderson opened the Henderson Motor Co., a Chrysler Dodge dealership in Suffern, New York with Kenneth Burnham, Henderson's lifelong friend. Henderson later landed a contract to truck materials for Avon from New York City to Suffern.[3]

On December 17, 1935, Henderson's mother created a holding company called the Alexander Dawson Inc. (ADI). It was incorporated in Trenton, New Jersey.[4] ADI is still in existenace today and is located in Las Vegas, Nevada.

In 1940, Henderson was elected to serve on the board of directors for Avon Products and served for 35 years.[5] On June 17, 1966, Time Magazine published an article about Henderson titled, "Avon Paying", which was about Henderson as a director of Avon, his investments, and his recent sale of Avon stock.[6] On July 1, 1973, Henderson appears in an article about Avon in Forbes Magazine. The article talks about Avon Products and Henderson as the biggest individual shareholder next to the founding family.[7]

Monterey Peninsula Television[edit]

In 1950, Henderson created the Alarm Corporation in Carmel, California, located on 7th and Lincoln Street, which later was changed to the Monterey Peninsula Television (MP-TV) Company. The company provided underground cable service to Carmel residents. MP-TV had its receiving antenna site on the high ground of Pebble Beach. In 1954, MP-TV moved to Monterey next to the Monterey airport. A street in Monterrey is named for Henderson called "Henderson Way". It is near the airport and went to the MP-TV headquarters.[8]

In 1991, Ernest Gordon Pratt wrote about Henderson in his book, "Life of an Unknown Man". In the book Pratt talks about Henderson and his many adventures, including the start of the cable company in California. Pratt, Henderson, and a man by the name of Owen Patrick heped turn the Alarm Corporation into the successful Monterey Peninsula Television Company. In 1972, the company was sold to the San Francisco Chronicle Publishing Company.[9]

On June 5, 1964, Henderson married his second wife, Mary Hollingsworth in Clark County, Nevada. [10]

Underground living[edit]

In 1964, Henderson pioneered underground living and sponsored the Underground Home exhibit at the New York World's Fair.[11] At the height of the Cold War and fearing nuclear war or other catastrophe, Henderson built and lived in underground homes in Colorado and Las Vegas, Nevada. The home in Las Vegas is a 16,500 square foot home with magnetic doors that he built to be bomb-proof and earthquake-proof while also having creature comforts such as a swimming pool, putting green and guest house. When his friend, recording artist Johnny Mann, released At the bottom of the fair, he wrote on the back side of the album, "The first time I was in an underground home was in the Colorado Rockies under a mountaintop 9500 feet above sea level! And it was here that I met the owner, Mr. Jerry Henderson. As his guest, I soon became aware of the fantastic possibilities of underground living, and at the same time struck up a lasting personal friendship with Jerry."[12]

Alexander Dawson Foundation[edit]

In 1957, Henderson created the Alexander Dawson Foundation.[13][14][15] The Foundation is a nonprofit organization and is dedicated to education. In 1980, Henderson also created the Colorado Junior Republic School, which became the Alexander Dawson School.[16]


Henderson had a passion for flying ever since he saw Charles Lindbergh honored for his solo flight across the Atlantic with a ticker tape parade down Broadway in NYC in 1927. This experience moved Jerry to buy an open cockpit plane and learn how to fly. He was one of the nation’s earliest pilots. His pilot's license number was in the upper four digits and was signed by the surviving Wright Brothers.

On September 1, 1978, Henderson invested in and was on the board of directors for Gulfstream American Corporation, a company formed by Allen Paulson, which acquired the Grumman American Aviation Corporation for $32 million and $20.5 million in preferred stock. The company, was a subsidiary of the Grumman Aerospace Corporation, that manufactured and sold the Gulfstream II executive aircraft. Gulfstream American also manufactured the Gulfstream American Hustler.[17][18][19] In 1980, Henderson sold his interest in Gulfstream American for approximately three times the original investment.


In 1981, Henderson self-published the book Turn the Clock Back Sam, which presented his libertarian ideas about having less federal government and raising fewer taxes. Henderson's friend, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, wrote the foreword to the book.[20] In his book, Henderson wrote, "People prosper when they are free and deteriorate when they surrender to a powerful government. I have watched our country change over the last 70 years. The unmistakable drift in this country is toward a stronger central government, more and more taxes and above all, less freedom. The sole role of a legitimate democratic government founded upon 'natural law' is to provide for common activities, such as defense, police, and court, that individuals cannot easily provide for themselves."[20]


On November 16, 1983, Henderson died at his underground home in Las Vegas, Nevada.[21] Henderson's body was flown to Beaufort, South Carolina and buried inside a chapel he built on the Laurel Hill Plantation in Saint Helena Island (South Carolina). On the bottom of Henderson's headstone it reads: "If your hands are clean your cause is just, and if your request is reasonable you cannot be denied."


On March 31, 1999, the Alexander Dawson Foundation established The Alexander Dawson School at Rainbow Mountain in Las Vegas, Nevada.[14] The school opened in 2000 offering a rigorous, traditional liberal arts curriculum. On May 28, 2014, the Alexander Dawson Foundation gave $1,000,000 to the Alexander Dawson School’s Legacy Endowment Campaign. Because of this gift, the Alexander Dawson School in Rainbow Mountain unveiled the G.B. Henderson Administration Building, which was named for Jerry as the founder of the school.


  1. ^ Henderson's autobiography So Long, It's been good to Know You, pg 12.
  2. ^ Jerry's autobiography, So Long, It's been good to Know You, pg 22.
  3. ^ Colorado's mystery millionaire by Louis Kilzer of the Denver Post, 1983.
  4. ^ "Minutes Of Meeting Of Incorporators Alexander Dawson, Inc.", December 18, 1935, ADI Certificate of Incorporation.
  5. ^ "Avon Annual Report 1975". Hagley Museum and Library. 1975. Retrieved 2013-01-21.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ "Avon Paying". Time Magazine. June 17, 1966. Retrieved 2013-01-21.
  7. ^ Forbes Magazine, Wall St. Loves Avon
  8. ^ MPTV Cable System History (Monterey Show) at
  9. ^ Life of an Unknown Man, Ernest Gordon Pratt, Bernice Pratt, Carmel, 1991, California
  10. ^ "Nevada, Marriage Index". 1956–2005. Retrieved 22 Dec 2013.
  11. ^ "The Underground World Home". May 30, 1965. Retrieved 2013-01-23.
  12. ^ Album, "At the bottom of the fair" by Johnny Mann, 1965
  13. ^ "Alexander Dawson Foundation". Active Cause. Retrieved 2009-09-05.
  14. ^ a b "Dawson History". The Alexander Dawson School. 2012. Retrieved 2013-01-23.
  15. ^ "Founder Jerry Henderson". Alexander Dawson School. Retrieved 2013-12-22.
  16. ^ "History". Alexander Dawson School. 2012. Retrieved 2013-01-23.
  17. ^ Gulfstream Aerospace Plans Big-Stock Offering, by Agis Salpukas, Published: April 4, 1983
  18. ^ Founder Jerry Henderson
  19. ^ Gulfstream American Corporation 1978 Annual Report, Year ending December 31, 1978
  20. ^ a b Henderson, Jerry (1981). Turn the Clock Back Sam, G.B.H. Inc., page 5, OCLC 7972322
  21. ^ Social Security Death Index;