Joe R. Henderson, Jr., 73, who served the State of Florida in a number of positions, died Thursday, Feb. 4, 2010, after an apparent heart attack.
Born July 29, 1936, in Hawkinsville, Ga., he moved to Defuniak Springs, Fla., in 1953. He began his career as a Driver License Examiner in 1956. In 1957, he graduated from the Florida Highway Patrol Academy and patrolled the roads of Wakulla, Gadsden, and Leon Counties for the next 6 years.
Upon the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963, he was assigned to the protection of three Florida Governors; Farris Bryant, Haydon Burns, and Claude Kirk. From 1968 to 1979, he was assigned to the Motor Vehicle Inspection Program and served as District Lieutenant in Miami, Tallahassee, and Ft. Lauderdale, and Chief of the Motor Vehicle Inspection Program. In 1980 he was promoted to Captain and served as commander of Troop A, Panama City until 1983. In 1984, he was promoted to Major and placed in command of Northern Troop operations for the state. On June 30, 1987, he retired from the Florida Highway Patrol at the rank of Lt. Colonel.
He re-entered law enforcement in 1989, as Chief Law Enforcement Officer of the Florida Park Service where he served as the Florida Park Patrol's first chief until his retirement from active duty on February 17, 2000. After his retirement from active duty, he became a reserve officer of the Florida Highway Patrol and served as its official historian.
He is survived by his wife of almost 50 years, Donie Ann, Tallahassee; son, Bill Henderson, Tallahassee; daughter and son-in-law, Beth and David Whittemore III, Daytona Beach; and grandchildren Ella and David Whittemore, Daytona Beach.