Dr. Giles Lee Henderson (74) of Charleston


Published on December 5 2017 3:18 pm

Dr. Giles Lee Henderson, age 74 of Charleston and formerly of Montana, passed away in a skydiving accident in Taylorville, Illinois on Saturday, December 2, 2017.

A reception for family and friends will be held from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. on Friday at Adams Funeral Chapel in Charleston. Memorial Services honoring and celebrating his life will begin at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 9 at the funeral chapel with Pastor Gary Henderson officiating. Donations in his honor may be made to the EAA Young Eagles Program or the International Aerobatic Club.  Gifts may be left at the reception or service or mailed in care of Adams Funeral Chapel, 2330 Shawnee Dr., Charleston, IL 61920.

Giles was born July 19, 1943 in Aberdeen, South Dakota, a son of the late Elmer and Viola (Walworth) Henderson. He married his childhood sweetheart, Linda M. “Lyn” Altenburg on September 22, 1962 in Great Falls, Montana.

In addition to Lyn, his loving wife of 55 years, Giles is survived by two sons, Kevin Henderson and wife Donna of Meridian, Mississippi and Garth Henderson and wife Laura of Rapid City, South Dakota; two grandchildren, Jessie Henderson (Toni) of Meridian and Cherilyn Henderson of Rapid City; three great-grandchildren, Kahlan, Olivia and Dezmond Henderson; his stepfather, Jim Meade of Great Falls, Montana; and a brother, Gary Henderson (Lynette) of Bonanza, British Columbia, Canada.

In addition to his parents he was preceded in death by a brother, Greg Henderson.

Giles’ love for flying began at a very early age and when most young men his age were getting their driver’s license, Giles was getting his pilot’s license. He owned a plane long before he owned a car!  Following high school he attended Montana State University in Bozeman where he obtained his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees and later pursued his doctorate at Indiana University in Bloomington. In 1966 he accepted a position as a Chemistry Professor at Eastern Illinois University where he taught until his retirement in 2000. His employment as a college professor for nine months out of the year was ideal as it allowed him to take to the air the remaining three months to pursue his love of flying and his acrobatic competition career. Giles' reputation of being nationally known in aerobatic competition and precision flying has earned him honors such as being inducted into the International Aerobatic Club Hall of Fame in 2012 and the EAA Sport Aviation Hall of Fame in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. He also held recognition as a member of the Aerobatic Club of America and the Mid America Sport Parachute Club. He made the cover of the January 2013 issue of Sport Aerobatics magazine and was the subject of a featured article. Giles was a ham radio operator for many years and his love for the outdoors also allowed him to pursue other interests such as scuba-diving, backpacking, fishing, hunting, caving, mountain climbing or canoeing. He dearly loved his family and looked forward to time spent with his sons, his grandchildren and his great-grandchildren. Giles touched the lives of so many as he was a teacher at heart and will be fondly remembered by his many students both in and out of the classroom. Many Coles County residents will remember him practicing sequences for aerobatic contests in his yellow and black Cassutt Racer as he streaked across the skies. His family will forever treasure their many memories of a loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather.