Lima Senior names auditorium after jazz great Henderson

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Apr. 27—LIMA — It began with a music teacher at South High School introducing a young Joe Henderson to the tenor saxophone, and on Thursday, that same Joe Henderson had his name immortalized in the halls of Lima Senior High School with the school auditorium officially renamed the Joe Henderson Auditorium.

Joe Henderson was born in 1937 in Lima, and after studying music and subsequently playing for the troops while in the U.S. Army, he went on to a distinguished career as a jazz musician, winning four Grammy awards for his work as a jazz saxophonist. His career as a musician led him to perform with such jazz greats as Freddie Hubbard and Herbie Hancock. His career was cut short after suffering a stroke in 1998, but he was still named a jazz master by the National Endowment for the Arts. Henderson died in 2001.

The auditorium was renamed at a dedication ceremony Thursday evening with several members of Henderson's family in attendance. For Kristin Lee, director of arts and magnet programs for Lima schools, showcasing a district alumnus who made such a tremendous impact on music will hopefully inspire students as they perform in the auditorium that now bears Henderson's name, just as it did for another alumnus who is now making his name in music.

"One of our former students, Brandon Monford, who goes by Sax B, is on tour right now and is doing a video dedication [at the ceremony] as a favor to us because he was very much inspired by Joe Henderson growing up," she said. "That's one of our success stories based on his inspiration, and I'm hoping that today, by hearing all the things they will about his legacy, they will be even more inspired to pursue a professional career in music."

Along with remarks from Lima superintendent Jill Ackerman, board member Sally Windle and a mayoral proclamation delivered by Mayor Sharetta Smith's chief of staff Shane Coleman, the ceremony featured a performance by the Lima Senior jazz band and remarks by representatives from Henderson's family before ending with an unveiling of a portrait of Henderson by the late artist Frederick Brown at the entrance to the auditorium, along with a commemorative plaque.

Malcolm Daniel, Henderson's youngest son, made the trip from Patterson, New Jersey to Lima for the ceremony, and he was gratified to see his father's legacy honored at Lima Senior and expressed hope that newer generations would also contribute to the arts.

"Hopefully, we'll be able to see someone else walk down that same path that my father did and make that contribution to the arts and to jazz and give back to the community, as well," he said.

Reach Craig Kelly at 567-242-0391 or on Twitter @cmkelly419.