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Local legend passes away Sunday

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By John Balch
News-Leader staff

Sunday, Feb. 12 was met with the news Freeman Henderson had passed away.

Forever the Voice of the Rattlers now, Henderson, 90, died peacefully at his Murfreesboro home in the predawn hours surrounded by loved ones.

The news spread with the rising sun and touched just as many people. As one person posted, “I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love Freeman.”

Henderson, a 1944 Murfreesboro High School graduate, once said he attended thousands of sporting events and school functions during his near century. He was the Voice of the Rattlers for 50 years and a supporter of the community and the Murfreesboro and Delight schools for way longer. The retired preacher also estimated he had given 4,000 sermons, performed around 900 weddings and officiated at countless funerals during his 26-year run at the Methodist churches in Smyrna, Antoine and Delight, where he preached (at all three) every Sunday until 2004.

If one wasn’t hearing Henderson’s words, there was his written word in the local newspapers (Pike County Courier, Nashville News and Murfreesboro Diamond) where the Rattler historian “ballyhooed” players and students through his sports coverage or waxed nostalgic in his column, “Rounding the Square.”

Henderson served on the Pike County Memorial Hospital Board of Directors for 15 years, the Murfreesboro School Board for 15 years and did a stint on the Pike County Equalization Board. He also was a tutor at the school, worked at the local grocery store for 10 years, 26 at the local hardware, and volunteered at the Crater of Diamonds State Park.

The press box sitting above Holloway Field at Rattler Stadium is named in Henderson’s honor and many recalled on the day of his death the sound of his voice booming all over town on Friday nights, “Now hear this! Now hear this!”

Though the Voice of the Rattlers is now silent and the old preacher has been delivered to his heavenly host, Henderson’ legacy is deserved to be forever linked to local history right alongside John Huddleston and “Diamond Jim” Archer.

Henderson was laid to a much-needed rest at Murfreesboro Cemetery on Wednesday, Feb. 15.