Cover photo for Charles Keeler Henderson's Obituary
Charles Keeler Henderson Profile Photo
Charlie "Mr. Ford"

Charles Keeler Henderson

d. November 22, 2023

Long Beach

Charles Keeler “Charlie” “Mr. Ford” Henderson, Age 81, of Long Beach, Mississippi, passed away on Wednesday, November 22, 2023, from natural causes at Gulfport Memorial Hospital.

 

Charlie, a successful Ford dealer and businessman, loved his family, friends and spending time outdoors. He enjoyed people and his warm demeanor and inclusiveness were welcoming to all who met him; he never met a stranger. The open and sincere nature of his personality resulted in many close and lifelong friendships.

 

Charlie was preceded in death by his wife of 55 years, Diane Burns Henderson, and by his parents, Mr. James William Henderson, Jr., and Elizabeth Keeler Henderson. He is survived by two brothers, James William Henderson, III (Mary) of Cleveland, MS, and Reverend Robert Bobo Henderson (Charlotte) of Apex, NC; three sons: Dr. Charles A. Henderson (Juliana) of Hattiesburg, John E. Henderson (Janet) of League City, TX, and Joseph B. Henderson (Jennifer) of Pass Christian; nine grandchildren: Rachel Henderson, Tyler Henderson, John Henderson, Jr., James Henderson, Julie D Henderson, Jonah Seymour, Jacob Henderson, Jaden Henderson and Julia Henderson; and two great-grandchildren: Adley Henderson and Bowen Seymour.

 

Charlie was born July 23, 1942, in Clarksdale, MS. He often worked on the family farm and developed an interest in the automobile industry while spending time at his grandfather’s Buick dealership. After graduating from Clarksdale High School, Charlie attended Mississippi State University on a football scholarship and was a member of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity. He was introduced to his future wife, Diane Dee Burns of Gulfport, while visiting his cousin. The two fell in love and were married July 15, 1962.

 

Deciding to pursue his passion for the automotive industry, Charlie transferred to General Motors Institute (GMI – now known as Kettering University) and the couple moved to Flint, Michigan. Charlie graduated from GMI with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and received the outstanding student award. All three sons were born in Flint. Upon graduation, Charlie worked in large car dealerships in Flint, Michigan, and in Boston, Massachusetts, before returning to Mississippi to open Charlie Henderson Ford in Bay St. Louis in 1972.

 

At the age of 29, he was the youngest independent Ford dealer in the United States. On February 16, 2022, Henderson Ford celebrated its 50th anniversary, a feat accomplished by only a small percentage of family-owned car dealerships. Charlie also founded Atlantic Marine Brokers and was an early dealer of Sea Cat Boats. The Sea Cat brand was transformed into World Cat Boats, and Charlie was recognized as the top World Cat dealer in the nation. Years after selling the boat business and retiring, Charlie decided to reinvigorate the Sea Cat brand. In 2015, he organized a group of marine industry experts and investors to begin designing, building and selling Sea Cat Boats. Charlie was Manager, Chairman of the Board, and remained active in Sea Cat management until only recently. Charlie loved life and was fond of any activity that allowed him to spend time with family and friends. He especially enjoyed collecting and shooting guns, hunting, boating, saltwater fishing, racing cars, and watching sports. He was a member of the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), Mississippi Auto Dealers Association (MADA), Southern Quality Ford’s Dealer Advertising Association, Rotary Club of

Bay St Louis, CCA (Coastal Conservation Association) of MS, The South MS Gun Owners Association, Great Southern Club, and yacht clubs of Pass Christian and Gulfport.

A visitation will be held at Riemann Family Funeral Home at 19130 Commission Road in Long Beach, Mississippi, on Saturday, December 16 from 2-4 PM.

 

In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to the Coastal Conservation Association of MS.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Charles Keeler Henderson, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Visitation

Saturday, December 16, 2023

2:00 - 4:00 pm (Central time)

Riemann Family Funeral Home - Long Beach

19130 Commission Rd, Long Beach, MS 39560

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