Eva Louise Hickerson Aldredge Henley was a remarkable woman whose exuberance overflowed to her family, her Sunday school class members, her high school and college students, her friends in First Baptist Church of Minden and in First Baptist Church of San Angelo, Texas, and in churches around the world. She lived a life filled with adventure and dedication to her God-given mission. Born July 16, 1918, she left this life on Sept.24, 2016, for another new adventure.
Born in Tullahoma, Tennessee, Eva grew up in Commerce, Texas. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree from East Texas State University in 1937, and taught home economics in Van High School in Van, Texas.
In 1938, she married Truman Aldredge, who at that time served as Minister of Music in First Baptist Church of Commerce, where her father served as pastor. They both graduated from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, she earning a Master of Religious Education degree.
From 1950 to 1966, she and the Rev. Dr. Truman Aldredge served First Baptist Church of Minden. Eva loved her ministry in Minden and flourished as the director of the senior high Sunday school department, in her outreach for the church, as a training union teacher, and as a substitute teacher at Minden High School. Also known for her gracious hospitality and elegant entertaining, she hosted visiting preachers and legendary deacons’ parties.
In 1966, Eva’s husband of 28 years died. Her indomitable spirit, faith, and love of learning helped her through her deep grief as she earned a Master of Arts degree in English at Louisiana Tech University while also teaching English composition at the university.
In 1968, Eva married the Rev. Dr. Taylor Henley, Executive Director of Baptist Memorials Retirement Center, and moved to San Angelo, Texas. She used her hospitality gifts to regale Baptist Memorial Board members after every meeting, and for many years created and organized splendid Silver Teas to raise funds for the Center.
For 25 years, Eva taught English at Central High School, often dressing up as characters in literature to make the lessons come alive. She coached UIL students, many of whom won awards in English language and literature. She bragged about her students: one placing first in UIL competition in the state of Texas, another earning a Ph.D. at Princeton University, another teaching at Texas A&M University. Eva served as president of Texas Joint Counsel of Teachers of English and as a board member of the United Way of San Angelo. She was a frequent contributor of witty and inspirational op-eds to San Angelo Standard-Times.
Eva and Taylor founded Missions Our Mission (MOM), leading ministry trips to eight countries. In addition to preaching, Eva taught ESL classes in Ukraine. Together they led 35 mission trips to Ukraine. After Taylor’s death in 2000, Eva became President/Executive Director of MOM and led 11 more Ukraine mission trips, as well as raising money for missions in other countries.
She was a faithful member of First Baptist Church, serving on many church committees, acting in 17 Christmas dramas, and visiting people to invite them to church even after she could no longer drive and had trouble getting to their front doors on her walker. For the 48 years she lived in San Angelo, Eva taught an adult Sunday school class at First Baptist. Since the age of 16, she has taught Sunday school in various churches. If you’re counting, that’s 82 years. On Sept. 18, the Sunday before she left this life, she taught her Sunday school class.
Eva was preceded in death by her father, the Rev. Julius Hickerson; her mother, Anna Mae Coon Hickerson; her brother, Dr. Julius Hickerson Jr.; her husbands, the Rev. Dr. Truman Aldredge and the Rev. Dr. Taylor Henley; and her stepson, Dr. John Henley.
Eva is survived by two daughters, Dr. Anne Morton and her husband Bill Funderburk, and the Rev. Dr. Jann Aldredge-Clanton and her husband David Clanton; her niece, Dr. Julianne Hickerson Newton; seven grandchildren, David Herring, DeAnne Herring Kaloski, Chad Clanton, Brett Clanton, Valerie Henley Webre, July Henley Henry, and Jennifer Henley Phillips; 17 great-grandchildren, Macey Herring Rose, Chandler Campbell, Anna Campbell, Paige Parker, Colin Parker, Danny Herring, Maren Herring, Dawson Herring, Lyle Clanton, Emmett Clanton, Paul Clanton, Robbie Webre, Morgan Webre, Mary LeBoeuf, Kelly LeBoeuf, Ryan Phillips and Nathan Phillips.
The family wishes to thank her many dedicated, loving caregivers.
On Thursday, Sept. 29, in Minden, there will be a family visitation from noon until 2 p.m at Rose-Neath Funeral Home followed by a graveside service at Garden of Memory Cemetery. Pallbearers are Bill Funderburk, David Clanton, Graydon Kitchens, Mike Jackson, Steve Lee, John Collins, Tommy Walker and Don Bloxom. A service of celebration will be held at 11 a.m. Oct. 8 at First Baptist Church in San Angelo, Texas. Johnson’s Funeral Home is handling the arrangements in San Angelo.
Memorial donations may be made to Missions Our Mission, Buckner Baptist Benevolences, and Habitat for Humanity.