New Madrid woman honored in exhibit

Monday, April 1, 2002

NEW MADRID, Mo. -- Her story is being told in the rotunda of Missouri's State Capitol, but that doesn't concern Mildred Henry at the moment. What does concern her is if there is enough food for those who will soon gather around her table at noon.

There is fried chicken, mashed potatoes, cornbread, green beans, okra, homegrown tomatoes and pickle relish. She baked a pie and wonders should she open up a another jar of preserves should anyone want some for their biscuits. The 87-year-old New Madrid resident takes pride that no one leaves her table anything but full.

It is that attitude of caring and concern that prompted her daughters to nominate their mother when the Missouri Women's Council announced an exhibition for Missouri Women's History. The exhibit seeks to honor women who have played a role in Missouri as homemakers, public servants, businesswomen, etc.

Henry was selected to represent the field of homemakers. Her story is one of 60 the Missouri Women's Council and Foundation Board chose to tell. She is featured along with famous past Missourians such as Mayme Ousley, the state's first female mayor, and opera singer Marian Wright Powers.

The display, "The Exceptions that Created the Rule," was unveiled this month in a special ceremony in Jefferson City.

"For Mildred Henry her impact is substantial," wrote daughter Faye Halferty of Cabot, Ark., for the part of the exhibit now on display in the Rozier Gallery. "Even though she never worked outside of her home or attained much formal education, her examples of generosity, kindness, responsibility, friendliness and honesty are behaviors worthy of modeling."

Raised by grandparents

Henry was orphaned at age 3 and was raised by her grandparents on a rural New Madrid County farm along the Mississippi River. When she married, she and her husband, Whitson, farmed and raised their family at the Higgerson Landing.

Together, they survived the Depression, floods and drought. Henry supplemented the family income by providing room and board to the many loggers who cleared the land. Also she became adept at making do as her own family grew by gardening, canning, sewing and quilting.

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