Thursday evening, the city threw a big celebration for Councilwoman Barbara Henson.
“Working with Barbara Henson has been such a joy. It’s been a thrill. It’s been enlightening. It’s been a lot of different things. She’s such a sweet heart and she’s so knowledgeable,” said Councilwoman Kim Houston.
Henson was first elected to the Ward 3 city council seat in 1989, and after 28 years of service, she said she’s ready to retire.
“What I’ll miss are the meetings and the work sessions that we have, and of course the comradery that we have with all our friends.”
“Barbara and I have been friends for many years. We first met when we were in the 7th grade,” said Gloria Stewart, who was at the event.
“I’ve had the pleasure of working with Mrs. Henson for many years. She’s a super godly person.
She knows so much about this community,” said Wallace Heggie, who was also there.
Henson, who’s 83, said members of her church encouraged her to run for public office all those years ago.
“I ran against six or seven men. I beat them all. But it was the lord that did that.”
She said bringing the Bonita Lakes Mall to Meridian was perhaps her biggest accomplishment. Fanny Johnson will step into Henson’s seat next month.
“She’s wonderful. She’s going to do a good job. I love her with all my heart. I’ve already told her to just pray and go girl,” said Henson.
In her days of retirement, Henson plans to head back to her own business: Barbara Henson’s Nursery School, Kindergarten, and Swim Gym.
“I’ll be working at the daycare where I’ve worked all these years. I get there as early as 6 in the morning. I’m there until 5:30. I do go home and rest every day because I’m very old. I have to take a nap.”
As a way to honor Councilwoman Henson, Mayor Percy Bland declared June 20-25 as Barbara Henson Days, and city council members renamed the Highland Park swimming pool the Barbara Henson Aquatic Center.