Hamilton County

William Vernon 'Bill' Henderson



William Vernon ‘Bill’ Henderson was born Feb. 17, 1920 to William David and Verna Verona Mize Henderson. He died July 3, 2010 and is buried in Lawn Hill Cemetery, Stanhope, IA.

Petty Officer First Class Henderson served with the U.S. Navy in World War II aboard the USS Idaho (BB-42).

William & his future wife met and were married while serving in the U.S. Navy in World War II.

Nilva Jean Riley (WAVE) and William Henderson met in late October, 1944. Both were in the Navy and on a troop train going home on leave. She was talking to an Army man when Bill intruded because it looked to him like that “little Army guy” was taking up too much of her time. They spent three days on that train together before she returned to her home in Iowa and he went on to his family in Alabama. Before separating, though, they had decided to get married. While they were apart, Bill didn’t let her forget him. He sent flowers and wrote letters to her. Nilva Jean, 21, was determined to marry Bill, who was 24, even though her parents tried their best to discourage it— including their offer to give her a wedding if she’d just wait until after the war.

But love won out, and the young couple was married after their leave in the Baptist parsonage in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, where Nilva Jean was stationed at the naval base. Bill’s ship, the U.S.S. Idaho, was in port at Seattle. They were together as much as possible until the Idaho shipped out in early January, 1945. He was gone until the war ended that fall.

After they were both discharged, the young couple returned to Iowa to join the farming operation of Nilva Jean’s family. It was a lifestyle and a vocation they embraced with their family. Although they knew each other just three days before their simple wedding during the war, the Hendersons were married 64 years before Bill passed away in 2010. Nilva Jean died in 2015.

Source: ancestry.com; Hamilton County IAGenWeb Obituaries; Picture compliments of Bille (Henderson) Shelton