6 decades, 1 job
Henderson spent life at stockyard
It was a day 60 years in the making as the Opp Stockyard said “good-bye” to Junior “J.V” Henderson this week.
A 17-year-old Henderson began his career at the stockyard on Oct. 15, 1953, opening and closing the gates as farmers brought in everything from heifers and bulls to colts, pigs and goats.
On Thursday, those at the stockyard gathered to honor him with a retirement ceremony, giving him a plaque for his years of service.
Stockyard manager Bobby Jackson said Henderson will be missed on the yard.
“He’s a very, very very loyal employee to this company,” Jackson said. “All the years he’s worked here, I have never known him to be out for anything but an emergency or a funeral – and those were few and far between. You could count on him. Period.”
During his 60-year career, Henderson has seen the cattle business at its highest and lowest. In a previous interview about his day, Henderson said, “I just worked my way up around here. I still load out most of the cattle, meaning I get them in the trailer after folks has bought ‘em. I work 9 p.m. to 8 a.m. Odd hours, I know, for an old man like me, but I got a recliner here so I can sleep.”
Now, that recliner will be empty as Henderson enjoys his days on his own farm in the Cedar Grove Community or “over near Sasser’s Crossroads,” as he described it.
But things will continue at the stockyard, Jackson said, as stockyard stockholders met not only to honor Henderson, but also to hold their annual meeting.
Jackson said members learned about construction – both completed and proposed.
“On top of handling cattle and selling goats, horses and chickens, we also have an annual equipment sale on the second Saturday in March,” he said. “One of our projects this year was to improve the parking area for the equipment area. It was a major overhaul of the property, and it really enhanced the look of the stockyard.”
Jackson said the new drainage system and lime rock base will serve as a perfect site for large equipment items.
“We also have some plans to renovate the major barn, putting in some steel trusses that will the water away from barn, allow for more air flow the cattle,” he said.
Stockholders also re-elected directors Tom Cauley of Friendship Community, Wayne Reynolds of Kinston and Steve Godwin of Pleasant Home for new three-year terms. Jackson said Henderson is also a current director in the second year of this term; however, due to medical problems, the remainder of his term will be served by Kenneth Baker of Elba.
The Opp Stockyard has been in business since 1945, “and God-willing, many years more,” Jackson said.