Warren Henderson

Profile Updated: March 18, 2019
Residing In: Rye Beach, NH USA
Spouse/Partner: Linda
Homepage: www.whisc.com/webcam
Occupation: retired
Children: Katie and Christopher
Comments:

Until four days ago I was planning to attend our 40th high school reunion. A change of events now makes that unlikely. I've enjoyed reading up on the evolutions of my classmates. Since I probably won't be able to be with you next month, here's a summary of my life so far – the whole 40 years in one long column.

I had what I guess was a typical high school experience. I knew a lot of kids a little, I knew a few kids well. I liked English classes best. My favorite teacher was Mr. Summers. The class I remember most, though, was Mrs. Sleasman's art class. Jean Arquette, Jackie Hilyard and Wayne Bourgeois were in that class (along with others) and they were the most talented artists I had ever seen. I got to know Tom Pitcock (still my closest friend on Earth), had a secret crush on Leslie Grove, worked for a time in the mail room at the Gondolier, hated the braces I wore throughout high school (why I'm never smiling in photos of the day), had a few girlfriends, some adventures and a couple of memorable parties and left town soon after graduation.

I went straight from VHS to Florida State, beginning freshmen year Summer Term while I was still 17. I was more or less a hippie, like everyone else I knew. My college years were the most pure fun I've ever had. I was a terrible student – I only kept a high enough GPA to graduate because I was good in English (my major). I learned where the library was my Junior year when somebody pointed out that when you're throwing frisbee on Landis Green and you're facing the girl's dorms, if the frisbee goes over your head and hits a building – that's the library. I'm sure it was very nice inside. My college friends were mixed nuts from all walks of life. I'm still in touch with a few. I dated one girl through most of college. We were the perfect college couple for the times. With our friends we went to concerts and festivals (grew a mustache at Mardi Gras in 1971 that I've never shaved), took road trips all over the country and embraced the lifestyle with relish. Lived for a year on a ranch with a lake that was the perfect setting for great parties. I enthusiastically consumed everything that didn't involve a needle. My draft lottery number was 341 – surely divine intervention since I had no interest in Vietnam but deliberately did not get a student deferment.

After college I moved to Colorado to live with a buddy and others in Salida, high in the Rockies. I ran his bike shop, having taught myself bicycle repair at Florida State (so see, I did learn something). We had no money, we had no cares. This sleepy little town on the banks of the Arkansas River, surrounded by 14,000 foot mountains, was the most idyllic place I'd ever been.

In a year or so my friends were getting cleaned up and getting real jobs so I figured it was time to do the same. I moved to Denver and got a job in direct sales. Sales jobs were the only ones I could get, having no relevant experience on my resume. I sold fire detection systems door-to-door wearing my only suit day after day. A company hired me to sell “pre-need funerals” where you pay in advance for your cemetery plot, select your casket and pick funeral hymns and stuff. It was as bizarre as it sounds. I learned more at that job, though, than any job I've ever had. I was pretty good at it, too. Still – too weird to last.

After a few years out west I moved back to Florida, to Tallahassee where my Dad was still in the State Senate. I figured he could help me get a job. I crashed with Tom Pitcock and his then-girlfriend Ann until I found a place to live. I got a job at the Capitol and became involved in politics and government. I worked a series of executive jobs over the next several years, each one more involved in the ambition of some politician than the last, mostly doing media and communications (a life-long specialty as it turned out). Three times I worked for someone expected to run for Governor of Florida, a holy grail for people like me. One guy lost and two guys didn't run. Meanwhile, I was single and working in a 22 story building filled with secretaries. Politics and dating were really my only interests for years until I met a woman lawyer from the Attorney General's office. She wouldn't go out with me for months because of my allegedly sketchy reputation. On our first date I fell totally in love with her. We didn't get married for three years but I knew in one night this was it. It was, too. Still is.

After I got married my perspectives began to change (that's the way it's supposed to work, right?). I got more serious about my career and about life in general (I was 30+ by now). Our daughter was born after two years, our son four years later. We moved to New Hampshire, where my Dad's family was from, to a place I'd visited all my life. We settled in the small town of Exeter an hour north of Boston. NH winters were bitter cold so I packed on an extra 40 pounds to insulate against the cold. By the time people introduced me to LL Bean it was too late. Maybe someday I'll join a gym ...

I was hired by a guy running for Governor. He won and put me on staff (kind of ironic). In a small state like NH you meet everybody in a job like that. I worked for the Governor, on his campaigns and on Congressional campaigns. I ran successfully for county commissioner (1 term) and state house of representatives (4 terms) and actually had some impact on issues I cared about. After that I did some media and political consulting but never wanted it to become a full-time thing. I love the competition and the strategy of politics but, as we all know, politics is a scummy business that's only getting worse. About four years ago I retired for good.

Meanwhile, my kids grew up in a nice town with a loving family. My daughter (27) got an Ivy League education and is an editor at a publishing house in NYC. My son (23) did ROTC in college and is now a 2nd LT in the US Army. He's in Ranger Training right now. In fact, the reason I likely won't make the reunion is that Ranger School graduation is the same weekend. He hasn't been deployed overseas yet. We dread that day.

Since leaving politics my life is blissfully unstructured. For several years I collected computers from area businesses, rehabbed them and donated them for free to local families in need (pcoutreach.com, now inactive). I taught myself to fix, build and maintain computers years ago and still like trouble-shooting them for family and friends. I enjoy nature photography and videography. I continue to work with a regional non-profit business development group. I'm still driving a Porsche 911 that I bought new way back in 1987. We're starting to travel more before we get too creaky.

Two years ago Linda and I acquired a seasonal cottage my family has owned on NH's seashore since the 1940's, took down the old place and built a more year-round home where we now live. It's common to love the ocean but this spot has been extra special to me my whole life. I hope to live here, essentially ... until death.

Five years ago we bought a small place in Bradenton so we could be closer to family. My Dad has had Alzheimer's for years now, my Mom and my wife's parents all live in the area and our brothers and sisters are all in Florida so it made sense to be closer. We spend winters there now. It feels awkward to visit Venice, unfamiliar in some ways and in other ways shockingly unchanged. I miss the cheeseburgers at Myakka Lanes. Did the Catholic Church swallow Gina Brown's house? Does anybody still remember Dog N Suds? I always wanted to live in those little condos across from Crow's Nest. The Beachcomber, a hotel my folks built in 1955, is still there.

That's it. I hope everybody who attends the 40th reunion has a wonderful time. Perhaps I'll see you there. If not, my best to all.

School Story:

Tom Pitcock and I borrowed his Dad's Ford Galaxie 500 to take to Sebring for the race weekend. While finding a place to park at the racetrack he ran over a concrete curb and bent the rear bumper. He was bummed about going home to tell his Dad about it. On the way home he got a speeding ticket, though, which seemed to take the sting out of the bumper damage. It didn't seem funny at the time ...

If you could build a second house anywhere, where would it be?

We live where we always wanted to be, on the ocean in Rye Beach, NH. The web address above, www.whisc.com/webcam, shows the view from a bedroom window.

How often do you get back to Venice?

Rarely.

Favorite vacation spot?

I know it's a boring choice but I've always loved Disney World. Went there for years with my son during winter school vacation as he grew up. Haven't been in a while but I bet I'd still like it.

Are you interested in attending mini-reunions? If so, how often?

Mixed feelings

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Mar 18, 2019 at 4:00 PM
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Posted: Dec 17, 2013 at 12:21 AM
Chris and Katie at Chris' Army Lt. Commissioning -- 2009. Our young family -- 1990. Linda and Warren, 25th Wedding Anniversary -- 2006.
Posted: Dec 17, 2013 at 12:21 AM
I spent a lot of years in politics, first in Florida, then in New Hampshire. I've been out of politics for several years and it still sucks so evidently it wasn't all my fault.