Former Craig resident, city council member Ralph Henderson dies |

Former Craig resident, city council member Ralph Henderson dies

Ben McCanna

Marlene Henderson said she has been overwhelmed with messages of support and sympathy in the days since her husband died.

"He was very well liked. Very, very well liked," Marlene said. "I think that says a lot about him. He was respected and loved."

Ralph Henderson, a former Craig resident and Craig City Council member, died Monday of an apparent heart attack at his home in Fort Collins. He was 68.

Ralph was born in Craig in 1942. As a young adult, he married Marlene in 1961 — a union that would eventually bear four children, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

The couple moved to the Front Range to earn degrees in industrial construction management and architecture from Colorado State University and the University of Colorado in Boulder, respectively.

Afterward, the Hendersons returned to Craig. Ralph opened an architecture firm and made a lasting impact on the landscape, Marlene said.

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"He designed and built our (former) house at 1040 Pershing Street," she said. "He also designed and helped with some churches and other businesses in Craig, and a couple residences."

Ralph designed The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints buildings in Craig, Meeker and Steamboat Springs, she said.

Ralph served on Craig City Council from 1983 to 1987. City clerk Shirley Seely said she remembers Ralph's tenure well.

"He was a very nice, intelligent man," Seely said. "He had a lot to give to the community. And, I think that was his main objective — to give back to the community."

Craig resident Cathy Gush served on the council for 12 years beginning in 1983. She echoed Seely's sentiments about Ralph.

"He was very diligent, and very caring about the community in which he lived. He wanted to make it a better place," Gush said. "At that point, they didn't know they were going to move to Fort Collins, so he wanted to make (Craig) a better place for his kids and his grandkids."

Gush said she was young and inexperienced in government in 1983, and Ralph helped her figure things out.

"He was a mentor," Gush said. "He was willing to sit down and train me in what departments would need and how we would go about it. He took the time to explain.

"And, yes, sometimes he was bullheaded, but it was for the benefit of the community."

Gush said Ralph's tenure on the council coincided with tough times for the City of Craig.

"That was the bust," she said of the early '80s. "We hit this cycle when all the transient workers moved out, and we were left with a lot of city debt.

"He was very diligent in making sure that was corrected."

Marlene also said Ralph was determined. In the late '80s, the family bought property on the shores of Grand Lake with the intention of building a summer retreat. The plan hit a snag.

"The county said the site was unbuildable," Marlene said.

Ralph disagreed, and eventually designed and built a home to fit with the plot's unusual constraints. The house is Ralph's masterpiece, Marlene said.

"The house at Grand Lake was his trademark in terms of showing his skill," she said. "It's called the Tree House by residents of Grand Lake because it sits so high and it's pretty unique."

Gush said Ralph brought a unique approach to city council as well.

"He brought a non-political sense to city council," she said. "It wasn't about something he needed personally. There was no agenda. It was just to make this the best place it could be for everybody who lived here.

"You can't really train people to be that way."

Services for Henderson will be begin with Recitation of the Rosary and a vigil at 7 p.m. Friday at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 101 North Howes St., Fort Collins. Recitation of the Rosary and a Vigil Mass of the Resurrection will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Joseph Church.

Interment will follow mass at Grandview Cemetery, 1900 W. Mountain Ave., Fort Collins.

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