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Former councilman Wilson Henley, Jr., dies

By Valerie Baldowski

vbaldowksi@henryherald.com

Former Locust Grove City Councilman, Emmitt Wilson Henley, Jr., died of cancer on Monday. He would have turned 66 on July 29.

Henley served on the city council for a total of 23 years, until December 2009, recalled Locust Grove Mayor Lorene Lindsey. His term in office included an unsuccessful bid for mayor in 1999, Lindsey said.

Visitation will be Wednesday, from 4 p.m., to 8 p.m., at Haistens Funerals and Cremations in McDonough. Henley's funeral will be Thursday, at 2 p.m., in the chapel of Haistens Funerals and Cremations. Interment will follow at the Locust Grove Cemetery.

Henley is the son of the late Ruth Crumbley and Emmitt Wilson Henley, Sr. He was preceded in death by a son, Thomas "Tommy" Wyatt Henley.

The former councilmember was retired from the Georgia Power Co., with more than 31 years of service, and from Bunn Grading in Locust Grove, after 14 years of service.

He was a member of Locust Grove United Methodist Church.

Henley is survived by his wife, Linda Bonner Henley; his son and daughter-in-law, Mark and Felicia Henley; granddaughter, Sara Ann Henley; sister and brother-in-law, Elizabeth and Donald Austin; brother and sister-in-law, Ronnie and Phyllis Henley; an aunt, Annie Lou Henley; "special family," Carey and Paulette Bunn, Andy and Jennie Bunn, and Andrew Buck Bunn, and Jessica Bunn; and several nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Henley had cancer for some time before his death, said Mayor Lindsey. "He'd been suffering about five years with it," she said. "When it first started, it was in his neck, then it went into remission. Then, it came back, [and] it was in his stomach. "He was hospitalized two or three weeks prior to his death."

He was taken to Crawford Long Hospital first, then, later at St. Joseph's Hospital, according Locust Grove Councilman Robert Price.

Henley was an avid supporter of the annual Locust Grove Day celebration, said the mayor.

"He was the cook when we did the barbecue for Locust Grove Day for many, many years -- at least 20 years," continued Lindsey. "The whole time he was on the council, he did that."

Lindsey said her memories of Henley dated back to his childhood. "I knew him since he was a little boy," she said. "He used to help my father-in-law on the farm. He helped my late husband in his grocery store."

Councilman Price has fond memories of Henley, too. "We came up together, we were children together," said Price. "He was just four months older than me.

"Time flies," he said. "I can shut my eyes and remember things we did as boys and young men. We bird-hunted together years ago. Before there was an I-75, he worked for Standard Oil in Locust Grove ... We knew each other well, and our families knew each other well."

Price said he also knew Henley's mother. "His momma was the best cook in Locust Grove," he added. "She had arthritis, but she cooked the best fried chicken."