April 25, 2013 8:54:42 AM
PEARL -- Retha Hand Henderson, a standout women's basketball player for East Mississippi Community College in the early 1950s, was one of 15 individuals inducted Tuesday night into the Mississippi Community College Sports Hall of Fame at a banquet at the Clyde Muse Center on Hinds C.C.'s Rankin campus.
A native of Collinsville, Hand Henderson was introduced to the sport of basketball in the eighth grade by the late EMCC Hall of Fame basketball coach Keyes T. Currie, who was coaching at Collinsville. She went on to become an all-state guard on Collinsville High School's 1951-52 state championship team and earned salutatorian honors of her graduating class.
Upon graduation, Hand Henderson arrived at East Mississippi Junior College in 1952 after earning a basketball scholarship. Under the guidance of coach Clayton Blount, she became a two-time all-state selection in helping lead the Lady Lions to back-to-back region and state basketball championships. During her freshman season on the Scooba campus, the 1952-53 EMJC squad was recognized as the lone undefeated (40-0) women's basketball team among the junior college ranks.
Along with her collegiate basketball accomplishments, Hand Henderson was also a well respected and active leader among the student body on the Scooba campus. After serving as a cheerleader during her freshman year, she was selected as the secretary/treasurer of EMJC's sophomore class and was chosen Miss EMJC for the 1953-54 academic year. In addition to being very active in the school's Home Economics Club, Hand Henderson was a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society as well as serving as president of her dormitory's student government.
Hand Henderson continued her education and developed her interest in home economics at Mississippi Southern College (now the University of Southern Mississippi) in Hattiesburg. As a member of the Home Economics Club and vice president of Kappa Omicron Phi, she earned her bachelor's degree in home economics in 1956. Having received her master's degree from the Mississippi University for Women in 1976, Hand Henderson taught home economics and physical education for 12 years in the states of Mississippi, Texas, and Louisiana.
In 1982 while residing in Columbus, Hand Henderson began a 17-year career as an insurance agent. She drew upon her athletic background and competitive nature to finish among the company's top three agents several times.
The former Retha Hand was married for 42 years to Robert Henderson, also an EMJC graduate, before he lost his battle with cancer in 1998. An active member of First Baptist Church, Hand Henderson remains involved in the Columbus community as a docent at the Blewett-Harrison-Lee Home and Museum and as a member of the Four Seasons Garden Club.
Previously inducted into the East Mississippi Community College Sports Hall of Fame in 2006, Hand Henderson has two daughters, Robin and Renee, and six grandchildren.
This year marks the seventh class of the Mississippi Community College Sports Hall of Fame. Hand Henderson joins previously elected EMCC/EMJC inductees Johnny Fisher (2012), Joe Rowell (2011), Tom Scarborough (2010), Elbert "Lum" Wright (2009), Ken Waddell Sr. (2008), Don Edwards (2008), Clyde "Baby Doll" Pierce (2007), Bill Buckner (2007), and Bob "Bull" Sullivan (2007).
Other newly elected members were: Oree Banks (Coahoma C.C.); James Melvin "Bucky" Waters (Copiah-Lincoln C.C.); Sammy Pace (East Central C.C.); Cleon McKnight (Hinds C.C.); Bennie Kimble (Holmes C.C.); Jim Walden (Itawamba C.C.); Mike McClellan (Jones County JC); Robert Dreyfus (Meridian C.C.); Charles S. "Chuck" Thomas (Mississippi Delta C.C.); John M. "Josh" Wells Jr. (Mississippi Gulf Coast C.C.); David Carnell (Northeast Mississippi C.C.); Lawrence "Bud" Young (Northwest Mississippi C.C.); Steve Regan (Pearl River C.C.); and Dr. Gene Barrett (Southwest Mississippi C.C.).