In Memory of




Obituary for Carol Henderson (Fox)

Carol (Fox) Henderson, 80, suddenly and unexpectedly, at home in West Vancouver on 22 August 2021. Predeceased by her beloved husband Terry, her sister Mavis (Fox) Lytle and brother Roger Fox, followed shortly by her brother Terence Fox (d. 1 Oct 2021). Survived by her children Shawna (Matt), Craig (Debbie), and Michelle, grandkids Eric, Clare, Jesse, Breanna (Greg), great grandkid, Gemma, and her squad of nieces and nephews.

Carol grew up in wartime Yorkshire. Her earliest recollections included being bundled into a maroon and gold satin comforter and hustled down the garden to the bomb shelter. She was the youngest of four, always keeping up with her brothers (from whom she gained a lifelong aversion to frogs after finding several hundred of them in the bathtub).
Carol emigrated to Canada with her parents when she was 10. As a wartime kid, fed on rations and plain food, the rich food prepared for fine dining on the ocean liner did not agree with her tummy.

The Maitre d’ asked her what she would like instead, and thus, she was served baked beans in a bowl on a silver platter with a doily. The terrible seas meant that the Maitre d’ and she were often the only ones in the dining room, and she ate specially prepared food at every meal.

Thanks to that one man’s dedication of service, a lifetime of appreciation and desire for quality and elegance was established. Too bad the love of her life and kids turned out to be unmitigated philistines, revelling in fart jokes and Things of Bad Taste.

Emigrating to Canada brought her, her parents and brother Roger to West Vancouver where her sister Mavis had settled as a war bride. Carol attended Hollyburn Elementary and West Van Secondary, where she met her future husband, Terry Henderson. She worked at Libby’s Pharmacy before starting her family, and then later, when her kids were all in school, she worked at Cockcroft’s Flower Shop in Park Royal for several years.

After her stint as a florist, Carol began a long career (maybe even a calling?) as a Special Education Assistant (SEA), starting in West Vancouver at Hollyburn Elementary. In 1984, she was hired by the District of North Vancouver. She worked at Burrard View, Maplewood, and Queen Mary Elementary Schools and finished her career in 2007, at Seycove Secondary, watching ‘her boys’ walk across the stage as graduates. She was loved and respected at all of her workplaces for her ability to manage challenging situations, support students and staff, and crack really bad jokes.
Colleagues reflected upon her impact when she retired: “thanks for all the amazing work for so many kids. Gave so much to so many. When you reflect on your career in education, I hope you remember it with a great sense of pride and of a job so very well done. So many students, especially ‘your boys’ owe such a debt of gratitude to you. How many graduated from high school only because of you?”

Mom did amazing work, but in all the carefully curated collections we went through as we cleared out her home, there was no record of the groundbreaking work she was part of the explored working with neurodivergent kids in mainstream classrooms. That part of her life got buried by her joy in the success stories of her students as they moved through the education system and into life outside of school.

What made Carol?

Family. Family. Family.

Terry. So many pictures of Carol and Terry show them grinning like absolute fools at each other throughout the years with the same mutual look of adoration, whether the photo was taken in the 1950s or the 2000s. There were always hugs, smooches, and hand holding. When Terry died in 2008, Mom curled up on the bed with him, broken hearted. She never quite recovered from the loss.

Carol adored her siblings, her kids and grandkids, her nieces, nephews, and their kids, too. No one was prouder of their accomplishments and no one happier than when they called or visited. She was able to criss-cross the country and be present for many of the important events in her West and East Coast grandkids’ lives, from births to graduations.
What else made Carol?

Practicality.There was always a cup of bad coffee in the microwave. Often from the day before, but no matter, a quick nuke and it’s hot and that’ll do.

Generosity. Did you need a place to stay? Were you hungry? Did you need a thing? She likely had at least one thing she could lend, or give, because doubles.

Firefighter mode. Having Carol at your side in an emergency was an absolute blessing. She would pitch in on any work that needed to be done, and do it with unreasonable grace under pressure.

Food. Carol’s extended family grew up on massive potlucks featuring such specialties as spic n span lasagne and many, many bowls of trifle. Not to mention the Christmas baking that poured forth from her kitchen every year. Carol was also Hollyburn’s hot dog lady in the early 70s and cooked with Penny Charlesworth at Camp Fircom many times. As she grew older, there were fewer large gatherings, but food was always key to a lovely time. In her last years, Carol spent many a lovely time with her dear friend Doreen Player, cooking up a storm and cackling at the world.

What else?

Hummingbirds and gardening.

Friends, walks, the wind, the salt spray, the mountain air…

Our dogs, everyone’s dogs. Anyone’s dogs. She loved them all.

Quilting, sewing, knitting for everyone.

Carol’s fabric and yarn stashes were so vast, there was hardly room for her in her apartment. It was full of stuff to make for other people. That’s how her life was – generous, creative, industrious. Like her mother and her siblings. And like them, she collected a lot of stuff, couldn’t part with the things that rang of love in her sweet, soft heart. Call it a family failing.

Some of the things Mom kept. The receipt for her good china service (1959!). A ‘funny’ file with printouts of the worst jokes possible to find (if she weren’t a mom, they’d be dad jokes). Crossword puzzles that she was determined to solve, one day. Her dad’s driver’s license. Terry’s apprenticeship paperwork. Clippings of every time someone she knew was in the paper.

In all things, Carol was competitively non-competitive. She was also a serious party girl. We have stories (and pictures) to prove it.

In late 2019, Carol started experiencing the confusion and anxiety that comes with the onset of short-term memory loss. Huge thanks to Michelle for being Mom’s constant companion and caregiver, making sure she was comfortable, well stocked with food, and ensuring she felt safe and loved when Craig and Shawna couldn’t physically be there.
Cremation took place in August. In lieu of flowers, please direct your generosity in Carol’s name to a charity you hold close to your heart. The family is arranging for a tribute tree and bench for Carol and Terry in one of West Van’s parks. We’re not planning a service, but we are creating an online Carol Project, so if you have stories and recollections that you’d like to share, please leave them here, or let us know how to get in touch with you so we can record them or write them down.

From all of us, through a note from one of her students: “You are amazing, you are great, you are the best teacher I have ever had and a wonderful friend. You are Carol Henderson and I will never forget you!”