Red was born in Bryson City, North Carolina, and came to Alaska in 1957 with the United States Navy. Red’s last port of call with the U.S. Navy was Kodiak Island. During his time on Kodiak Island, he fished on the F/V Peggy Jo and F/V Robbie for Oscar Dyson, eventually starting a lifelong career in law enforcement with the Kodiak Police Department in 1967. A lifetime dedicated to public service, Red went on to serve as a trooper with the Alaska State Troopers in Girdwood. Red studied at the FBI National Academy as well as the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (now the DEA) Training Academy. He returned to the Kodiak Police Department, earning the rank of Lieutenant. With the KPD, Red worked closely with Alaska State Trooper Bob Lochman, resulting in a life-long friendship.
In 1975, he accepted the position of Chief of Police for the City of Palmer. During that time, he was responsible for bringing 911 to the Mat-Su Valley, the Mat-Su Pre-Trial Facility as we know it today, and co-locating the Palmer Police Department with the Alaska State Troopers at their current South Valley Way location. In 1981, Governor Sheffield appointed Red the director of Alaska State Troopers, Division of Fish and Wildlife Protection, where he held the rank of Colonel. He retired in 1986 with his partner AST Col. Mike Kolivosky. After his retirement, he and his partner Mike started Henderson & Kolivosky Investigative Services and continued to work cases for the next fifteen years.
Red served on the Palmer City Council for nine years, where he helped strengthen his community. His favorite project was the Palmer Golf Course. He worked closely with a cast of others to make Palmer what it is today. He always would smile and say with a mischievous twinkle in his eye, “You can do anything, as long as you have four votes.”
His last love was the M/V Gov. John R. Rogers, better known as “The Gov.” currently moored in Bellingham, Washington. When not tinkering on the boat, Red spent countless hours sharing company with Jay & Pam Eide.
Red is survived by his wife of nearly 40 years, Everly Henderson, his three children, their spouses, his seven grandchildren, and his two great grandchildren: Gina Bringmann, Nik Bringmann, Sage Bringmann, Lilly Boylan, Shelby Bringmann, and Beckett Holland. Kirk, Cindi, Gracie, Kellan and Elsie Payne. Rob, Jennifer, and Robert “Jack” Henderson.
Red was a strong advocate for the underdog and firm believer in redemption. He was a model of friendship and chuckled on why people liked him. He loved a cold beer and a good cigarette, and that was a hobby in itself. “Just one more…” he would remind us all. He was a lover of The Caboose Lounge, a cribbage board, and loved to talk on the phone. Ernie Beauchamp taught him to play the leg guitar with the best of them. He would give you the shirt off his back, and often did. And in the end, he was an angel in training. Per his request, there will not be a memorial service. “Just have a drink for me.”
Red, just wait over the hill, we’ll all be along soon.