obituary header
Welcome to the memorial page for

Clayton W. Henderson

June 10, 1936 ~ January 7, 2018 (age 81)


“…the last indrawn breath remembers

music as an echo may.”

Hymn to St. Cecilia

[Ursula Vaughan Williams]


Dr. Clayton Wilson Henderson was born in Middletown, Connecticut on 10 June 1936, the son of Alice Nettie Pitcher and Clayton Wilson Henderson.  He married Elizabeth Ann Hathaway on 8 August 1959 in Kennebunkport, Maine.  In addition to his wife, he leaves five children: Gregory (Janet Fell) of Vancouver, Washington; Jennifer Brandyberry (Mark) of Mahomet, Illinois; Christopher (Holly Sparks) of Granger, Indiana; Ethan (Gretchen Ernster) of Washington, DC; and Joshua (Kathryn Kerby) of Larkspur, California; fifteen grandchildren (Heather, Sara, Kelsey, Vaughn, Philip, Paul, David, Aaron, Mary, Matthew, Madison, Benjamin, Aidan, Liam, and Charlotte); four great-grandchildren (Devon, Dillon, Mariah, and Olivia) and his sister, Margaret Minnie Henderson Mouco. He also leaves his faithful friend and companion, Cato, who walked with him twice a day. His parents, son Aaron, and Clayton’s brother, Clyde, preceded him in death.

Clayton earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in music from Ohio University and the Ph.D. in musicology from Washington University in St. Louis, from which he graduated Phi Beta Kappa. He taught at San Diego State University; the University of Denver; the University of Illinois; Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville; Beloit College; Millikin University, where he was the Dean of the School of Music from 1974 to 1979, and, from 1980 until his retirement in 2005, at Saint Mary’s College (Notre Dame, Indiana) where he was Chairman of the Department of Music (l980-89) and the Department of Communication, Dance, and Theatre (l983-89).

Henderson was a member of numerous societies, including Phi Beta Kappa; Pi Kappa Lambda; the Society for American Music; the American Musicological Society, for which he served as archivist for nineteen years and whose members honored him and a group of his colleagues for their membership of 50 years in the society; the College Music Society; and the Ralph Vaughan Williams Society.  Additionally, he served the National Association of Schools of Music Commission on Accreditation from 1984 through 2000.

The author of books and articles on American composers Charles Ives, Paul Dresser, and opera singer, Emma Nevada, Henderson presented scholarly research papers on a variety of topics, including authors Robertson Davies and Theodore Dreiser at conferences in this country, in Canada, and in Copenhagen.  The Indiana Historical Society awarded his article on Hoosier composer, Paul Dresser as the best article to appear in its magazine, Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History in 1997.  Henderson was also a classical and jazz pianist who accompanied opera singers James McCracken and Sandra Warfield and entertainers Juanita Hall, Red Skelton and Bob Hope. One of his greatest joys as a performer was as an accompanist for his wife in their performances together.

He loved the language, music and ritual of the traditional Anglican church since his days as a boy soprano in the choir of men and boys at Trinity Episcopal Church on the Green in New Haven, Connecticut. Henderson was organist-choirmaster at various Episcopal churches for more than four decades. During his thirteen years at St. James Episcopal Cathedral in South Bend, he organized and conducted the massed choir that sang at the Ordination service for the Right Reverend Francis Campbell Gray, when he became the sixth Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Northern Indiana. Three other services for which he was especially proud of having served as organist and choirmaster were for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Ordination to the Priesthood of the late Very Reverend Robert Bizzaro, former Dean of the St. James Cathedral, and for two services at which The Most Reverend Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, officiated at St. James. He most recently served Gloria Dei Lutheran church in South Bend as Director of Music from which he retired in 2009.

Friends may visit with the family Saturday, January 20, from 2:00pm-4:00pm at St. James Episcopal Cathedral, 117 N. Lafayette Boulevard, South Bend, Indiana. Services will be held at 4:00pm in the church. Palmer Funeral Home—Hickey Chapel and Southlawn Cremation Services are assisting the family with arrangements.

The Henderson family thanks Aikaterini Kompoliti, MD of the Rush University Medical Center (Chicago) for her unfailing support and encouragement.  Henderson has willed his brain to the Parkinson’s disease program at the Rush University Medical Center. 

In lieu of flowers, the Henderson family has requested that any contributions be made to the Parkinson’s Foundation, 1359 Broadway, Suite 1509, New York, NY 10018, tel. (646)388-7656,; or Humane Society of St. Joseph County, 2506 Grape Road, Mishawaka, IN 46545.

Charitable donations may be made to:

Parkinson's Foundation
1359 Broadway, Suite 1509, New York NY 10018
Tel: 1-646-388-7656

Humane Society of St. Joseph County
2506 Grape Road, Mishawaka, IN 46545,
Tel: (574) 255-4726

 Service Information

January 20, 2018

2:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Cathedral of St. James
117 N. Lafayette Blvd.
South Bend, IN 46601

Memorial Service
January 20, 2018

4:00 PM
Cathedral of St. James
117 N. Lafayette Blvd
South Bend, IN 46601

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