Senator Douglas Henry: A Tribute

Originally published at OneSouthernMan.com

Two years ago I conceived the idea for OneSouthernMan as a way to highlight and showcase the lifestyle and interest of gentlemen who adore the South and all it has to offer. I wasn’t thinking of any one person when I imagined how to personify an image on the website, but rather a compilation of traits I believed characterized the ideal “Southern Gentleman.” It turns out that “ideal” Southern gentleman could have been Tennessee State Senator Douglas Henry.

Senator Douglas Henry (Nashville City Paper)

Senator Henry passed away late Sunday evening at the age of 90 in his Nashville home surrounded by family and close friends. He achieved many honors, one of the most notable being the longest-serving member of the Tennessee General Assembly, winning a seat in the TN House of Representatives in 1954. He was elected to the State Senate in 1970, and served until 2014 when the demographics of his district began to exceed the boundaries of his bipartisanship and tremendous knowledge of state government. His ability to forge relationships with people of all walks was legendary.

In 1995 when I was the State Chairman of the Tennessee Young Republicans, we set out to challenge any Democrat we believed might be vulnerable. Here was this older Democrat Senator who lived and represented the Belle Meade area of Nashville, one of the wealthiest zip codes in the state. Surely we could mount a winning campaign against a man who was perceived to be out of touch and pick up the seat. I found out all too quickly how much support this gentleman had in the “I respect Doug Henry” account; from both Democrats and Republicans. Senator Henry transcended party and partisan lines more than any single person I have ever known.  He was loved and admired by everyone, even those who opposed his views and opinions, and in reality, those were few in number.

A few years later I was blessed and fortunate to work and serve alongside him as a fellow State Senator.

There are so many traits I recall when I think of him. His slow, short shuffle as he walked down the hall with his trusted aide, Nancy Russell, by his side, hands in his pockets and a cigar protruding from his mouth, carrying folders or his briefcase. Weather permitting and in season, the baggy seersucker suit he wore framed a picture of gracious generosity and Southern hospitality. Always waiting until every lady had entered or exited, only then would he step into the elevator or through a door. These weren’t mere mannerisms; it was his way of life.

Indeed, he was a Southern man to the core. Click here to read the rest of this article.