Pearlie Henderson has a message for young people: “All things are possible. Believe and trust in God, and things are possible.”
It’s a message that he knows to be true from his own life experience.
Henderson, 76, graduated from Texas College in 1961 with a bachelor’s of science degree. He said he later lived in Germany, serving in the U.S. Army.
After he was discharged, he returned to Tyler and later moved to Houston, where he was a computer coordinator for what was then the Manned Spacecraft Center.
In 1968, he started working for General Mills. During his time there, he said he worked as a sales representative and a marketing executive.
He said his job as a salesman involved promoting products, such as Betty Crocker and cereals.
“It was challenging because during that time it was just difficult to maintain a job of that status,” he explained.
While with General Mills, Henderson earned recognition as one of America’s Outstanding Young Men for 1970.
According to the May-June, 1970 edition of The Modern Millwheel, Henderson was nominated by Texas College “for having distinguished himself in one or more fields of endeavor to the point of being outstanding,” and was selected by the Outstanding Americans Foundation.
He said being chosen as one of America’s Outstanding Young Men for 1970 was unexpected, and he was able to accomplish what he did through prayer and his family.
Henderson said he eventually moved back to Tyler, where he and his wife, Joyce, had a child care center built.
Henderson’s wife later went to work at Tyler ISD, and he went to work for Golden State Mutual Life Insurance.
Henderson also served as president of the local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and said he is currently board chairman at St. James CME Church.
New Days Community Church Pastor Reginald Garrett said Henderson “has always had a tremendous interest for the well being of the community as a whole.” He said Henderson has been willing to sacrifice and has been a big supporter of St. James CME Church and the community.
Henderson and his wife have three children and four grandchildren. They are both retired.
Now, “our concern is to continue to try and help young people to achieve… to make them understand that there are a lot of things that are challenging, but you can succeed if you try,” Henderson said.