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Kathryn Henderson

July 12, 1923 -
August 18, 2022

Kathryn (Kathie) Luther Henderson, 99, died Thursday, August 18, 2022 at home.  She was born July 12, 1923 in rural Champaign County, the first daughter born to Carl Frederick and Ida Lietz Luther.  She was born on the family farm purchased by her paternal grandparents on February 22, 1893 and was very proud to be th…read more

Kathryn (Kathie) Luther Henderson, 99, died Thursday, August 18, 2022 at home.  She was born July 12, 1923 in rural Champaign County, the first daughter born to Carl Frederick and Ida Lietz Luther.  She was born on the family farm purchased by her paternal grandparents on February 22, 1893 and was very proud to be the current owner of the Luther farm, officially designated a State of Illinois, Department of Agriculture Centennial Farm in 1993.  She was determinedly independent until the start of her final illness on her 99th birthday.

Kathie attended the rural one-room school, Equity, down the road from the farm for elementary schooling and then completed junior and senior high school in Champaign.  She earned all her college degrees at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign: an AB in history and English in 1944, a BS in library science in 1948, and an MS in library science in 1951.  A founding member and first national secretary of Beta Phi Mu, the international honor society for library and information studies, she held positions in the University of Illinois Library, first as a clerical assistant from 1944-1946 and then as a serial cataloger from 1950-1953.  Following her marriage to William (Bill) T Henderson on August 22, 1953, she moved to Chicago where she held positions as circulation librarian (1953-1956) and head cataloger (1956-1965) at McCormick Theological Seminary.

In 1965, Kathie was asked to join the faculty of the Graduate School of Library Science (now the School of Information Sciences) and returned to Urbana.  Bill took a position in the University Library as preservation librarian and Kathie followed her mentor Ethel Bond (whom she had assisted while a graduate student) in teaching Cataloging and Classification I and II.  She subsequently developed and jointly taught Technical Services Functions and Preserving Information Resources with her husband Bill.  She “redeveloped” her courses each time they were offered to reflect current trends and to incorporate the newest readings from the literature.  She developed computer-assisted instruction lessons for cataloging using PLATO as early as 1971.  Regularly receiving outstanding ratings from students on course evaluations, in 1991 she was recognized at the campus level for her significant contributions as a teacher with the Award for Excellence in Graduate and Professional Teaching.  In 1993 she received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Library School Alumni Association, in recognition of her many contributions as an educator.  In addition she was recognized at the 1993 American Library Association conference as the winner of the 1993 Beta Phi Mu Award citing her “distinguished record of teaching and service that has defined an uncommon level of excellence and has challenged and inspired a generation of librarians and library educators.”  In 1995 the Association for Library and Information Science Education recognized her with the ALISE Excellence in Teaching Award.  In 2014 the Alpha Chapter of Beta Phi Mu established the Kathryn Luther and William T Henderson Award in recognition of the high esteem in which they were held by fellow chapter members and in order to inspire future generations with their example.  In addition to teaching Kathie frequently supervised research carried out by master’s, certificate of advanced study, and doctoral students.

Kathie was a longstanding member of multiple professional associations, including the American Library Association and the American Theological Library Association.  She served on and chaired numerous committees related to technical services, cataloging, and classification.  She served on the Editorial Board for Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, with former students Ruth C. Carter and Sandra K. Roe serving as Editor-in-Chief for extended periods of time.  As a faculty member Kathie planned a number of conferences and edited the proceedings on topics such as MARC records and their uses, major classification systems, conservation and preservation of library materials, and the special problems of nonbook formats.

While Kathryn Luther Henderson has made numerous research and service contributions, her most valuable legacy is the hundreds of students whom she taught.  Students were inspired by her example to be enthusiastic about librarianship and to strive for excellence in their work just as she sought excellence in teaching.  She maintained contact with many of her former students, delighting in following their careers and contributions to the field.

Kathie was a member of St. Peter’s United Church of Christ in Champaign; a United Way of Champaign County Pillar; and served the Champaign County Farm Bureau Foundation in selecting recipients of agricultural scholarships.

Kathie was preceded in death by her parents, Carl Frederick and Ida Lietz Luther; her beloved younger sister Mildred (Millie); and her cherished husband Bill.
For those wishing to contribute gifts in Kathie’s memory, the following are suggested:

–United Way of Champaign County, Community Impact Fund, 5 Dunlap Court, Savoy IL 61874.

–Champaign County Humane Society, 1911 E. Main St., Urbana, IL 61802.  Kathie’s beloved pet cat Leo came from CCHS.

–Champaign County Farm Bureau Foundation for the scholarship fund for Champaign County agricultural students, 801 N. Country Fair Drive, Suite A, Champaign IL 61821.

— William T and Kathryn Luther Henderson Fund or Mildred Luther and Kathryn Luther Henderson Professorship, University of Illinois Foundation, PO Box 734500, Chicago, IL 60673-4500.

–Or charity of the donor’s choice.

Morgan Memorial Home, 1304 Regency Drive West, Savoy is handling arrangements.  A private graveside memorial service will be held.  A celebration of Kathie’s life will take place at a later date.



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