2015 SFSA Distinguished Service Award
Cathy Carden Henry
For the past five years Cathy Carden Henry has been living proof that “you can go home again”—and you can make a lot of people happy in the process.
Raised from infancy to college student on the Schreiner Institute campus in the 1940s through mid60s by her parents, Robert and Mary Carden, she can tell you who did what, where, how and why for most of the time from 1940 up until she married in 1965 and left Kerrville to finish her higher education in Austin and Lubbock.
A 31-year stint working for the King Ranch in South Texas taught her a lot about managing records and wrangling visitors to that cotton and cattle empire covering an area larger than the state of Rhode Island. When retirement finally rolled around, the now-divorced Henry was drawn back to her Hill Country roots by her daughter and family, and old acquaintances.
In May 2010 she landed on the doorstep of the Advancement Office in Hoon Hall, and she’s been pretty much a fixture as a volunteer since, helping keep up with records and visiting with alumni and other special guests.
Her native knowledge of decades of campus names and faces is especially useful. “One day three ladies walked into Hoon Hall looking for anyone who knew their late father, Coach Stephen M. Meeks,” says Henry. “So, I started by saying, ‘Now which one of you is Stacey and which is Susie and which is Stephanie?’ They were very surprised.”
Visiting with Henry is a window to a time when there was a whole community on the campus, with faculty and staff living on the grounds adjacent to the students in everything from rustic cabins to dormitory apartments, converted buildings and bungalows. She recalls how Dr. J. J. Delaney, the school’s first president, moved her family almost annually. One of the moves was finally into a house in which Mrs. Carden wished to remain, so she told her husband, “You tell Big Jim Delaney that if he moves us one more time, we’re out of here!” They lived in that house until their retirement in 1972.
“Ever since Cathy came into our world five years ago,” says Paul H. Camfield, associate director of alumni relations, “we have been blessed on so many levels, from learning about campus life during her childhood, to finding and re-connecting to many lost former students to her inspiring, quiet, cheerful leadership—she is a true angel and we are lucky to have her in our midst.”
Henry says she intends to continue her volunteer work at Schreiner “as long as I’m able and as long as I’m helpful.” Her only regret is that fewer and fewer folks from the time she lived on campus are returning each year. “I’m going to run out of people I know,” she says.
What she will not run out of, however, are people waiting to hear her stories as an eyewitness to what it was like to be a part of that living, caring educational community in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s.